In a welcoming move, the Supreme Court of India on Thursday ordered the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to allow Bihar play Ranji Trophy and other domestic cricket tournaments in 2018.
For the past 17 years, the state had been barred from participating in any BCCI tournaments. In 2000, Bihar had played its last tournament before the late former BCCI President, Jagmohan Dalmiya, de-affiliated Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) as its full member and the status was conferred to Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) after the new state was carved out from Bihar.
BCA has since then been fighting a legal battle to get back its status and enable its team to take part in BCCI tournaments. The Bihar team had its inception in 1935. It was in the same year Bihar started to play Ranji Trophy matches. Till 2000, the best performance of the team came in 1975-76 when it stood as the runner-up.
The Supreme Court direction comes in following an appeal made by Aditya Verma, the secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar. A bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Mishra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud observed that Bihar should be allowed to play tournaments to preserve the interest of the game. It ordered the BCCI to take relevant steps to allow Bihar cricket team to play cricket at the national level in various tournaments including the Ranji Trophy from 2018 onwards.
“Bihar must play in Ranji trophy and other competitions. Bihar Cricket Association (BCI), which has been elected, shall be in charge of cricket administration,” the bench said.
The BCCI, however, opposed the apex court’s plea for allowing Bihar to participate in tournaments and said that only full members were allowed to take part in games at the national level. Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the Board, told the bench that Bihar was just associate member of BCCI and it could be eligible to participate only after getting the status as a full member.
Naphade said that Jharkhand was granted the status of a full member after bifurcation of the state as the headquarters of the association in undivided Bihar was in Ranchi and Jharkhand team had been taking part in the tournaments since then. The bench, however, was unconvinced and set aside all objections raised by BCCI and directed it to allow Bihar also to participate in national-level cricket competitions.
Bihar is among 30 states to be granted full membership of BCCI. The Supreme Court order is in line with that proposal.
It is a triumph for Cricket that Bihar will again jin the bandwagon of teams to play the Ranji Trophy. However, it would be something interesting to see who will play for the state now as most of their players have been playing for Jharkhand for a long time, which includes players like M.S. Dhoni. Also, the Ranji Trophy, which already features 28 teams, will have another team added in the next session that starts in October. Owing to repeated changes in the format of the tournament, complications might crop up to adjust another team.