The 2022-23 domestic season is upon us. After a hiatus of two years, the tournament is all set to return to its grand avatar with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announcing that over 1500 matches will be held during the season. It will commence in the first week of September 2022 with Duleep Trophy in Tamil Nadu before other events take over and the event will run until mid-March 2023, with the Indian Premier League slated to take place from the last week of March.
After a gap of two years, the prestigious Duleep Trophy will mark the start of a full-fledged season, with the event returning to the usual Zonal format. The Duleep Trophy, which is named after Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji of Nawanagar, has been organized from the 1961–62 season, and the tournament has seen multiple changes in formats over the years.
For the current season, it will begin on September 8 and will run until September 25 to be contested between six zones (North, South, Central, West, East and Northeast) on a knockout basis. Central Zone and South Zone have been given direct entry to the semi-final while the other four teams will play quarter-finals to decide their fate. The SNR College Cricket Ground, Coimbatore, which successfully hosted the TNPL this season, will host the final.
The Z. R. Irani Cup tournament was first conceived to mark the silver jubilee celebration of Ranji Trophy in 1959-60 and named after late Z. R. Irani, who was associated with BCCI from its inception in 1928 to his death in 1970. Irani Cup, which was last played in 2019, will return to the fold this year with defending Ranji champions Madhya Pradesh taking on Rest of India in a one-off encounter.
Earlier, it used to be the curtain raiser for the domestic tournament in India but later it was moved down to post-Ranji Trophy in order to accommodate a smoother transition. This year, the match will be played from October 1 to October 5 but the venue is not announced yet.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced the BCCI to cancel the Ranji Trophy in 2020 but it returned in 2021 in a smaller window. The Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic tournament, which has undergone multiple format changes over the years, will have two categories; 1) Elite and 2) Plate.
The Elite Group will comprise 32 teams and will have 4 groups of 8 teams in a home and away format with each team playing 7 matches in the league stage. The top two teams from each of the four groups will directly qualify for the quarterfinals.
The Plate Group will comprise 6 teams with 15 league matches and the top 4 will directly qualify for the semi-final while the bottom two will play against each other for the 5th/6th place. Both the Elite Group and Plate Group league matches will start on 13th December with the Plate League concluding on 29th January and the Elite group finishing on 20th February.
Senior Limited-Overs Tournaments
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy will be following the Irani Cup, with the T20 event starting on October 11, 2022 and will continue till November 5, 2022 whereas the Vijay Hazare Trophy will run from November 12, 2022 to December 2, 2022. These two events are sandwiched between Irani Cup and Ranji Trophy.
While Ranji Trophy will be played in Elite and plate basis, teams will not be divided in such fashion in the limited-over tournaments. Group A, B, and C will have eight teams each whereas Group D and E will have seven teams each. Group toppers from all five groups will qualify for the quarter finals directly. But then comes the trickiest part.
The second-placed teams from all five groups will be ranked 6-10 and top-ranked teams from all the remaining teams will be ranked as 11th team based on their points/Wins/NRR will play pre-quarterfinal. Team 6 vs 11, Team 7 vs 10, Team 8 vs 9, will play pre-quarter-final. The winners of these three games will make up for the remaining three teams in the quarter finals.
Like the years before the pandemic, BCCI will host various age-group tournaments that contribute to the growth of Indian cricket. Col CK Nayudu Trophy (red-ball) and Senior Men’s State A one-day Trophy will be played for the U-25 boys whereas U19 boys will be playing the Vinoo Mankad Trophy and Cooch Behar Trophy.
Vinoo Mankad Trophy is the 50-Over version for the colts with the Cooch Behar Trophy being played in four-day format, as usual. For both the tournaments, there are six groups of six teams each. But unlike Ranji Trophy, group toppers won’t qualify for the quarter finals directly. All group toppers will be ranked from 1-6 and teams ranked 1-4 will directly qualify for the QFs. 2nd placed teams will be ranked from 7-12 and teams ranked 5-12 will play pre-quarterfinals. Team 5 vs 12, Team 6 vs 11, Team 7 vs 10, Team 8 vs 9 will play against each other to finalize the quarter finals spot.
Women’s Domestic Cricket
With the ICC Women's T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in South Africa early next year, the women's calendar will commence with the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy on October 11.
The teams will be divided into five groups, and the table toppers from each group qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. The second-placed teams in the groups will be ranked from 6-10 based on their points/wins / Quotient / NRR.
BCCI has introduced inter-zonal tournaments this season which will follow the domestic T20 trophy, with the top 15 players from each zone, based on their performances in the competition, will lock horns in a round-robin format.
Based on the performance of the players in the interzonal tournament, the selectors will then pick the top 60 players and divide them into three teams for the T20 Challenger trophy.
Barring the Challenger trophy, the same structure will be followed for the fifty-over tournament. With South Africa also set the host the inaugural edition of the ICC Women's U19 World Cup (T20s) in January, the Board will also conduct the Under-19 T20 Trophy from October 1, followed by the T20 Challenger Trophy in November.
The teams will be divided into six groups of six teams each, and the group toppers will qualify for the knockout stage of the competition. The second-placed teams will be ranked 7-12 and will compete in the pre-quarterfinals. The Board will also conduct Under-16 matches that will enable the young girls to start competitive cricket early and help them in a smooth transition to the Under-19 level.