India’s Domestic Cricket Season 2022-23: BCCI envisages several firsts this time around
India’s Domestic Cricket Season 2022-23: Two Winners in Ranji Trophy, Women's U-16 One Dayers and Women's IPL will be introduced for the first time. Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy are back.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently released the schedule of India’s complete domestic season 2022-23 for both Men’s and Women’s cricket. More than 1500 matches are set to be played in the season that starts from the first week of September 2022 and runs until mid-March 2023, ranging across different tournaments and age groups.
The 2022-23 domestic itinerary will end shortly before the commencement of inaugural Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL) sometime in March 2023 and the 16th Men’s IPL edition.
First full season since 2019-20
It should be noted here that it will be the first time since the 2019-20 season that the Indian domestic cricket will take place in full throttle. For the past two years, BCCI largely hosted truncated versions of its usual domestic competition due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even India’s premier red-ball tournament, the Ranji Trophy had to be cancelled in 2020 along with many other regional tournaments.
With the pandemic subsiding across India, BCCI has planned to bring back all of its marquee domestic tournaments and expanding the Women’s game further and making several tweaks to accommodate the inaugural Women's IPL. Till last year (barring 2020), there was Women’s T20 Challenge which started in 2018 and was played between three sides and it is now being expanded to a proper six-team league.
This is a very good news because it will not only boost the confidence of domestic cricketers (both financially and professionally) but also pave way for board, selectors, IPL scouts and the state teams to identify the best talent in the country. Afterall, India is home to arguably the biggest cricketing fraternity in the world.
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India’s Men’s Domestic Season
The busy season will start with the prestigious tournament - Duleep Trophy (September 8-25) and will again be played in a zonal format (North, South, East, West, Central and North-East) on a knockout basis. The North-East are a new addition in this list. It must be noted here that the zonal format was done away with in the past few seasons in Duleep Trophy and the tournament was played between three sides – India Blue, India Green and India Red. Reverting to the old scheme will draw huge cheers from the fans and players alike as the tournament holds legacy value and players consider it a step higher than the prestigious Ranji Trophy as it offers a more competitive environment.
The Duleep Trophy will be followed by Irani Trophy which is also making a return to the circuit.
India’s most important white-ball tournaments - Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy (SMAT) and Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT) will follow. Both will be contested between 38 teams split between five groups (three groups with eight teams and two with seven teams).
The 87th edition of the prestigious Ranji Trophy will have two categories this time - Elite and Plate. The Elite group will comprise of 32 teams with 8 teams split into 4 groups in a home/away format. Each team will play 7 games in the league stage and the top two sides from the 4 groups will directly qualify for the quarterfinals.
The Plate group consisting of 6 teams will have 15 matches and the top four sides will play the semi-finals. For the first time ever in the history of Ranji Trophy, there will be a winner from the Plate Group. Both the competition will start on December 13 with the Plate league finishing on January 29, 2023 and Elite league concluding on February 20, 2023.
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India’s Women’s Domestic Season
With the ICC Women’s World T20 scheduled to take place in South Africa in February 2023, BCCI is set to start its Women’s domestic cricket itinerary with Senior Women’s T20 tournament taking place between October 11 and November 5. This will be followed by Women’s Inter-Zonal and Challenger T20. The 50-overs format will make its presence felt with Senior Women’s One-Day trophy and Inter-Zonal One-Day being played.
One has to keep in mind that the both the Women’s Inter-Zonal formats are being re-introduced this season and for the first time ever in the history of India’s Women’s cricket, BCCI is set to conduct an Under-16 Women’s One-Day tournament. This has been done to develop competitiveness in young girls, help them handle pressure much better and enable a smoother transition to the Under-19 level.
Speaking of the U-19 level, BCCI is all set to organize Women’s U-19 T20 Trophy and Women’s U-19 T20 Challenger from October 1 to November 7 acting as a precursor to the inaugural ICC Women’s U-19 World T20 to be staged in South Africa in January 2023.
India’s domestic calendar may end here but this will mark something special in the chapter of Indian cricket. The first-ever Women’s IPL will be played in March 2023 comprising of six teams and most likely run alongside Men’s IPL or finish before the latter’s commencement.
Overall, it will be an exciting year in the annals of Indian cricket with a lot of firsts involved in domestic circuit, especially with regards to women’s cricket.
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