The BCCI is set to bring back the Duleep Trophy – in a zonal format – and the Irani Cup to a full-fledged 2022-23 senior men’s domestic calendar that is set to begin in early September. The board has also added a number of women’s competitions this upcoming season, most significantly an Under-16 tournament.
The Ranji Trophy, which is tentatively slated between December 2022 and February 2023, is likely to follow both the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s (October-November) and the Vijay Hazare Trophy (November-December). India’s premier first-class competition will revert to its old format of having four elite pools and a plate division, with an elite team likely to get at least seven group games.
Meanwhile, the Under-16 tournament for women that was last staged by the Women’s Cricket Association of India (WCAI) in 2006 has been brought back now in preparation for the inaugural edition of the Women’s Under-19 World Cup to be played in the T20 format in January 2023 in South Africa.
“The under-16 is a very important tournament,” India vice-captain Smriti Mandhana said. “I remember when I was 10-11 [years old] and trying to make it to the Under-19s, I was told I was too young.
“A lot of girls in the age group have started to play cricket, and there is an opportunity now for them to play in the Under-16s and then graduate to the Under-19s. That way they have two tournaments to prepare themselves for the U-19 World Cup.”
Equally significant is the reintroduction of the women’s zonal competition – in both T20 and 50-over format – for the seniors after a five-year gap. There is also a T20 and 50-over competition for the Under-23s to ensure players who miss the bus at the Under-19s have another level to aim for.
“I personally enjoyed playing in the zonal competition; this is amazing news,” Mandhana said. “I have great memories of playing for West Zone. It helped me improve as a cricketer.
“We had zonal tournaments both at the Under-19s and at seniors, where having just five teams after going through the full domestic season elevated the standard of cricket. I’m happy that it is coming back.”