There is a world of difference between organising 60 Indian Premier League matches and 2000-plus domestic games, said BCCI secretary Jay Shah as he rejected "unfair and unwarranted" criticism that the Board priortised the cash-rich event over national tournaments like the Ranji Trophy. (More Cricket News)
Last year, the blue riband Ranji Trophy as well as junior cricket were not held because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the operational difficulties of creating a bio-secure environment for thousands of players and support staff.
While players lost out on significant earnings, the BCCI copped a lot of flak for too much focus on the cash-rich league.
"I feel the criticism is unwarranted and unfair. In 2020 as well, in the middle of the pandemic, we conducted Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, Vijay Hazare tournament and Senior Women's One-day tournament taking all precautions," Shah, who was in Muscat and Dubai, to oversee T20 World Cup and IPL preparations, was quoted as saying by "Gulf News".
Shah said the number of matches and required logistics between two tournaments are incomparable.
"It won't be a fair assessment if IPL is compared with other Indian domestic tournaments. The IPL has a franchise model and a platform for the world's best cricketers, coaches, support staff to come and showcase their skills.
"The Indian domestic season has over 2000 games, whereas the IPL has 60 matches. With a cricketing set-up as big and as diverse as India's, it is not easy to conduct a full season when so many states are grappling with COVID caseloads," Shah explained.
In case of IPL, it's always been a seven-week affair while an entire domestic season with men, women's and age-group cricket takes around six months to be completed with 38 teams in fray.
"You also have to factor in the time taken to have an entire domestic season and the travel that is included. They are putting their lives at risk, which should never be the case. It is not ideal to have age-group tournaments in such an environment and put careers of young cricketers at risk," Shah reasoned about not having any U-19 or U-16 tournaments last year.
"However, with the situation improving, we have announced a full season comprising 2127 domestic games across age groups for both men and women," he said.
The BCCI has recently published the dates of the full domestic season that starts in September this year and ends in April next year.