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BCCI Contract Drama: Example Made of Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer, a Good Start

Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer have lost their BCCI central contracts, let's dive into the pool of drama.

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'Mr Source' is the most hardworking professional currently working in Indian cricket.

He wakes up, speaks off the record to the media and then goes back into the system to glean some more information for the public at large.

For more than a month now 'Mr Source' has been hard at work trying to give us the inside track first on Ishan Kishan and then lately also on Shreyas Iyer, and how their refusal to play Ranji Trophy has the higher powers within the board extremely unhappy.

And all the reports emerged to be true when at 17:55 on Wednesday the BCCI shared a media release with the contracted list of players for the ongoing season- Mr Source was proved right once again!

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Within the list of 30 players announced also came wrapped one of the biggest developments in Indian cricket. It is probably the first big step taken by the authorities when it comes to letting their contracted players know that they need to prioritise domestic cricket.

It is strange that it has taken so long for the BCCI to crack the whip. This step should have come at the start of the season or at least before the start of Ranji Trophy. The fact that Kishan and Iyer thought that they could get away by missing Ranji Trophy was because the system allows the stars to get away.

Thus far the BCCI have never cracked the whip on their ‘stars’ for such matters. So Kishan first and then Iyer in their wisdom thought that they could get away with this.

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As centrally contracted players, these ‘stars’ are first employees of the BCCI and then are loaned to their state association and the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises. But thus far the BCCI has had a hands-off attitude about their centrally contracted players and their involvement in lower levels of cricket.

They have generally allowed their contracted players to take their own judgement calls when it comes to workload, injuries etc. This has meant that Indian cricket has suffered as a result.

It is only when the ongoing Test series against England threatened to go pear shaped that Indian cricket and its ecosystem realized that there is a problem staring them in the face. Thus far all of us were led to believe that these issues were only for the less fortunate countries like West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. But the country v club debate has now entered the Indian system as well.

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Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer have lost their BCCI central contracts, let's dive into the pool of drama.

Ishan Kishan had opted out of the South Africa Test series in 2023-24 due to mental fatigue, reports claimed.

(Photo: PTI)

Unwittingly Kishan and Iyer have become the trendsetters for this. Both are key players for their respective IPL franchises so they probably thought they can get away by not playing Ranji Trophy.

Kishan was even more defiant as he missed all rounds while Iyer took a chance by claiming to be injured even as National Cricket Academy (NCA) declared him fit.

The problem has been that the Board by not coming out openly with a clear statement on the situation around Kishan first and then around Iyer’s injury status has led to immense speculation on the matter.

Then you add the head coach Rahul Dravid’s statements on Kishan and you have a heady cocktail of confusion. Dravid even got a little perturbed by the Kishan question when he was asked about it after the Vizag Test win.

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If the Board and the team management or even the selectors were upfront, we could all have been saved a lot of trouble. More importantly Mr Source could have earned a well-deserved rest.  

After choosing to keep quiet for days and now suddenly springing a line in the release on the central contracts, the Board has undone all the denials that have been made officially or unofficially. It also puts the immediate future of Kishan and Iyer in international cricket in doubt.

Technically the contracts are effective from 1 October 2023, but are being announced on 28 February 2024. That is not new, the later the better in Indian cricket they say. The other important thing is that in the time frame between 1 October 2023-30 September 2024 if any player plays 3 Tests or 8 ODIs or 10 T20Is, he qualifies automatically for a place in Group C. Kishan and Iyer qualify even on that count, so it is clearly a disciplinary act by the Board.

The Board needs to ensure that they maintain consistency when it comes to revealing information. Also, it will help if the chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar is allowed to hold press conferences again to avoid any speculation and confusion at least amongst the stakeholders of the sport in the country.

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Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer have lost their BCCI central contracts, let's dive into the pool of drama.

Shreyas Iyer will be captaining KKR in the 2024 IPL.

Image: IPL

For Iyer and Kishan this indictment will act as a reminder that they cannot afford to take on the establishment even if they are IPL superstars. It is important that the message is passed on right through the cricketing ecosystem.

Kishan has just played his first game for Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the DY Patil T20 Cup 2024, ironically in a shade of blue like India’s! Kishan was playing a game after nearly three months. Iyer will be seen in action for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy semi-final.

At least in the case of Iyer the message is going through, but Kishan has continued to defy everyone.

Both their international futures are at stake, hence let us hope that there are some sensible mentors around them advising appropriately. Else it should not be a case of Indian cricket missing out on some talented players because of complete mismanagement. Communication is also key when it comes to handling such players. Indian cricketers, especially the younger lot, are seeing riches quicker than any set of players around the world. They need mentoring and support from the system. Thus far it seems like there is none!

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One sentence in the release which caught attention was: The BCCI has recommended that all athletes give precedence to participating in domestic cricket during periods when they are not representing the national team.

Wonder if this line applies to certain other individuals in the contracts list like a certain Hardik Pandya who has missed the entire domestic season. No rule seems to apply to him, at least that is what Kishan and Iyer may think like that!

We also have no information on why Yuzvendra Chahal has missed out on a contract. But there are some good additions like a fast-bowling contract system for some talented young bowlers.

Hopefully in time to come the Board will move towards separating the red ball and white ball contracts. That will help separate the wheat from the chaff!  Maybe all of us can reach out to Mr Source to relay this suggestion to the powers that be.

 Mr Source…are you there? 

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