The much awaited domestic cricket season will start from January 1 with the Ranji Trophy, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said on Saturday.
The BCCI Apex Council met on Sunday evening and a good amount of time was spent on discussing the domestic calendar which had been thrown in disarray by the surging cases of COVID-19 in India.
"We have had extensive discussions on domestic cricket and we have tentatively decided to start the competitions from January 1, 2021," Ganguly told PTI from Dubai.
When asked if it would be a curtailed season or not, the former Indian captain said the board won't be able to accommodate all domestic tournaments for practical purposes.
"We will certainly have the full fledged Ranji Trophy redball tournament. It will probably not be possible to hold all tournaments," Ganguly said, hinting that BCCI is eyeing the January-March window for Ranji Trophy.
To minimise travel, matches are likely to be organised in four different centres dividing the four groups (A, B, C and Plate). For example, Puducherry can host all teams in Plate Group.
"Puducherry has six grounds and have offered to host. It can host the Plate Group games while the other Groups can play in three different centres. The main motive is to minimise travel for players.
"Bangalore also has a lot of grounds so it can be one option and another option can be Dharamsala which has Bilaspur and Nadaun in its proximity," a BCCI official told PTI.
With Ganguly's assurance, the state associations have got much needed clarity to prepare for the season. With the COVID-19 situation affecting most parts of the country, most players are training on their own. Earlier this week, Uttarakhand became the first team to start training under one roof.
Meanwhile, Ganguly also assured that the junior cricket and women's tournaments will be held between March and April.
"We also have elaborate plans for our age group and women's cricket. We will start with Ranji Trophy and then we will also have the other tournaments between March and April," he said.
He also informed that the Indian team will be allowed to train in Australia during their quarantine phase.
"Cricket Australia has sent us an itinerary and we discussed the modalities of that itinerary. We will be playing four Tests and that will end in third week of January," the BCCI president said.
The Indian team is expected to play three ODIs, three T20Is and four Tests Down Under.
On the following home series against England, Ganguly said that the BCCI is monitoring the situation and the final itinerary will be prepared in due time.
"The England series is good three and a half to four months away. We still have time. We are monitoring the situation (COVID-19) which is pretty fluid and will take a call accordingly," he said.
While hosting the series in India (Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Dharamsala being likely venues) remains priority, the UAE is a second option.
A BCCI official added that there is a strong possibility that the T20 series will be played at a single venue, likewise for ODIs and at most two venues for Test matches to minimise travel.