Covid fallout: 9 players can constitute a team in Ranji Trophy, substitutes an option

Nine players can constitute a team in the eventuality of a medical emergency in Ranji Trophy this season, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced in a list of guidelines formulated in view of the COVID-19 situation in the country. The norm, though, is applicable only after a match has begun and the team is exhausted of like-for-like replacements.

The board is taking all precautions to conduct the premier first-class tournament that begins on February 17 after a two-year pandemic-induced layoff. “Due to COVID outbreak within a team after the start of the match, if the team has a minimum of nine players available to take the field (after utilising all the replacements), then the match will continue,” the board stated in a circular issued on Tuesday.

The board has not stopped their planning at that. In case a team is unable to field even nine players after the match has started, it has laid down a set of parameters to decide the game’s outcome. “In the league stage, points will be awarded to the teams based on points table. During knockout games, qualification for the next round will be determined by a higher run quotient or spin of the coin.” the circular explained.

The match referee would decide on a team’s request for a like-for-like replacement. He would evaluate whether the replacement furnishes an undue advantage to his team. “In assessing whether the nominated COVID-19 replacement should be considered a like-for-like player, the BCCI match referee should consider the likely role that the relevant player would have played during the remainder of the match, and the normal role that would be performed by the nominated COVID-19 replacement,” the circular elaborates.

If he believes that the replacement would excessively benefit the team, “he may impose such conditions upon the identity and involvement of the COVID-19 replacement as he/she sees fit, in line with the overriding objective of facilitating a like-for-like replacement for the relevant player.” That is, a referee could decide the role of the player.

No tape for bowlers

Another fresh guideline was that bowlers can’t tape their bowling hand. “The bowler has to remove all kinds of taping from his bowling hand if he wants to bowl. This is non-negotiable. If any plaster is worn on the back of their bowling hand it must be flesh coloured or thereabouts, which will not distract the batsman,” add the circular.

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