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BCCI rejigs domestic calendar due to paucity of umpires

BCCI has had to reschedule some domestic tournaments this season due to unavailability of umpires. In a letter to all state associations, BCCI GM (cricket operations) Saba Karim has informed that the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy and Senior Women’s one-day knockout matches have been rescheduled.

As a result, the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy – a four-day tournament – will take three weeks longer to be completed. The women’s tournament will finish two days later than scheduled.

In his letter, Karim mentioned the paucity of umpires in the month of December. The third round of Cooch Behar Trophy matches from December 17 will now be played from January 21. The knockouts, which were scheduled to begin from January 29, have been pushed back to February 18. The women’s knockouts will be played from December 26 to December 31 instead of December 24 to December 29.

Logistically, the board was always up against it with the sudden induction of nine new state teams this year. The cricket operations team worked overtime to devise a schedule that would enable the smooth conduct of the domestic season. However, their worst fears came true with the board carrying out matches across formats and age-groups during December. “We have to give the umpires an equal number of matches and have to spread the workload. It’s just that during this phase that we don’t have umpires available,” Karim told TOI on Wednesday.

The board has been struggling to get its umpiring resources in place. It had re-conducted Level 1 umpiring exams in June after it emerged that the exams held last year were biased towards candidates from certain zones. Subsequently, the board rushed to conduct the Level 2 examinations by September.

“We don’t necessarily need to increase the pool of umpires from next year. We need to just see to that umpires get an equal number of matches given that there are more than double the matches happening from this year than earlier seasons,” Karim explained.

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