First-class cricket is backbone of sport and shouldn’t suffer: Irfan Pathan

KSW Web Desk

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Srinagar, July 29: Former Indian cricketer, Irfan Pathan, has said that first-class cricket is the backbone of sport and shouldn’t suffer as BCCI plans to strip the upcoming domestic season.

Due to ongoing extraordinary conditions, Pathan believes there are only two options: either cut down the Ranji Trophy and play white-ball cricket or go to back zonal format.

“There are a few options — you could leave out the Ranji Trophy and play only white-ball cricket, so that you can finish the season in time. The other option could be going back to the zonal format, but that needs proper arrangement in a bid to avoid imbalance. With news teams coming in, the east zone has more teams compared to others, so that needs to be looked into, if zonal format is to be adopted.” Irfan told Sportstar in an exclusive interview.

Pathan, who is the mentor J&K senior cricket team, illustrated how tough it would be to hold a tournament like Ranji Trophy, given the consequences unleashed post Coronavirus outbreak.

“My only concern is that if the BCCI is forced to cancel the Ranji Trophy this season, then what happens? Let’s not forget that Ranji Trophy goes on for four days and there are multiple logistical issues to look into. Whereas if you are playing white-ball cricket, you can have all the matches in one city. That reduces travelling and also makes life easy in terms of logistics.” He said.

“And in these times, flying from one venue to another is also not the best option. For example, for a team like Baroda, it becomes difficult to travel to the East since there are no direct flights. So, if the team is to play in Kolkata, it has to reach there via Mumbai or Ahmedabad. At this point, that doesn’t appear to be a viable option.”

The Baroda-born all-rounder also highlighted the issue of financial backdrop the cancellation of domestic season can bring to non-IPL players.

“In case things go out of control and the Board decides to scrap the Ranji Trophy to focus only on white-ball cricket — which is unlikely though — they will have to ensure that the players are compensated for the financial loss. This is the time of need and I am sure BCCI will take care of the players in every possible way. Players will lose money in case Ranji Trophy doesn’t happen. For the national players, who have central contracts or the ones who feature in the IPL, it’s a different story but players who only rely on domestic cricket, life is difficult.” He said.

Pathan concluded, saying the first-class cricket shouldn’t suffer.

“So, the board must look for their compensation. I personally do not back the zonal system, but in an extraordinary situation like this, that might have to be considered as an option. First-class cricket is the backbone of the sport and we need to make sure that it doesn’t suffer.” He concluded.

BCCI recently hinted at conducting only Ranji Trophy in December, however, things are still uncertain with Covid-19 cases only going up in India with the time.

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