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BCCI was forced to reschedule matches due to unavailability of match officials

On the eve of the start of the domestic first-class event, state associations were requested to make changes to their logistics and travel arrangements.

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A view of logo of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). (Photo by Aniruddha Chowhdury/Mint via Getty Images)

The Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season gets underway on November 1, but state units received a letter from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) just a day ahead of the tournament, asking them to make adjustments. On the eve of the start of the domestic first-class event, state associations were requested to make changes to their logistics and travel arrangements of their teams in three different events.

The reason cited by the BCCI was the unavailability of umpires and match officials for those particular days. Earlier this year, there was a press conference called to inform the media on how the BCCI had prepared itself to stage India’s biggest-ever domestic season.

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During the meeting, the board’s General Manager of cricket operations Saba Karim had said that the BCCI was still in the process of recruiting more umpires. This was the case because there are a higher number of matches this season following the addition of new teams. Karim had also mentioned that despite the increased demand for umpires, he would see to it that the quality of the personnel is not compromised.

In a letter to all the state units, the office bearers, the Committee of Administrators (CoA), the CEO and the CFO of the BCCI, Saba Karim had written, “In view of the unavailability of umpires during the month of December 2018, matches have been rescheduled as per the schedule below. You are requested to make logistic arrangements accordingly.”

Major changes in number of Ranji Trophy teams this year

Following recommendations from the Lodha Committee, the Ranji Trophy this year will feature 37 teams, up from 28 last season. As far as matches that needed to be organized by the BCCI, the number has shot up from 900 to over 2000 in a year. As on August 31, the board still needed about 15 more umpires and 12 match referees, along with more scorers and video analysts that would be required for each game.

Karim had earlier mentioned that the BCCI had filled up those vacancies, but still fell short to a certain extent in the heaviest parts of the season. “Once we drew out the fixtures, we asked the umpires and match officials for their availability. It just so happened that the officials we have available don’t fulfill the neutrality qualification or they are not the right grade. We have sufficient umpires and match officials to conduct the whole season now after these adjustments,” he had said while speaking to ESPNcricinfo.

The tournaments that have been affected in terms of scheduling following the shortage of match officials are the knockouts of the Cooch Behar Trophy and the Under-19 four-day competition. These have been pushed back by almost a month each, while the knockouts of the senior women’s one-day tournament have been postponed by two days.

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