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Explained | Why Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan were omitted from BCCI contracts list, and what's next for them

Indian cricket team stars Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer were surprisingly missing from BCCI's annual contracts list released on February 28. Why were they excluded and what does their immediate future hold?
Last Updated 29 February 2024, 09:03 IST

BCCI announced their annual contract list on Wednesday, and in a decision that shocked many, they omitted Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer entirely.

The decision follows the refusal of both players to appear for their respective domestic teams, despite BCCI Secretary Jay Shah's directive to all contracted players to participate in domestic cricket, as communicated in a strongly worded letter, according to a report by Indian Express.

Why exactly were Iyer and Kishan omitted?

Ishan Kishan, who was supposed to play for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy, cited mental fatigue as the reason for opting out of the match. While known as a talented and integral member of the Indian squad, Kishan was reportedly unhappy over being constantly benched in the Indian team.

Head coach Dravid, and later BCCI, had directed Ishan to participate in the domestic circuit in order to be considered for the national team. His refusal to do so has led to him being omitted from the annual contracts lists.

As for Shreyas Iyer, according to Indian Express, while he cited back and groin pain as the reason for missing Ranji matches for Mumbai, the BCCI's medical team, led by Nitin Patel (the head of sports science at the National Cricket Academy), found no fitness issues.

As such, he was also excluded from the central contacts. This was a big surprise given his performance in the recently concluded ODI World Cup. His omission is a clear message from BCCI that skipping domestic cricket would not be tolerated.

The middle-order batter has now been included in Mumbai's squad for the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Tamil Nadu, which begins on Saturday.

What consequences does the omission mean for them?

The omission of the duo from the contracts arrives at a critical moment for both players, who were integral to India's plans, particularly in white-ball cricket. This announcement likely means it would be very difficult for them to be selected for any upcoming international series, and likely the T20I World Cup too.

The Indian Express also stated that even if Shreyas and Ishan make a comeback to the team later this year and meet the pro-rata requirements (a minimum of 3 Tests or 8 ODIs or 10 T20Is within the contract cycle), they will not be eligible for a contract. Instead, they will receive only the match fee based on the format. If they are unable to play for the country, it denies them the chance to be in the spotlight.

Moreover, without the national contracts, they are unable to access facilities that were previously available to them, such as the National Cricket Academy, at their own discretion. This becomes significant when a cricketer is injured, out of the national team, or simply wishes to enhance their skills or fitness regimen.

Those outside the elite group will now need to coordinate with their respective state units to utilise the NCA facilities.

Another aspect is that with their position being as precarious as it is, it gives other talented players the opportunity to take their place and replace their need in the squad. Already we are witnessing players like Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel performing well in the Indian Test set-ups.

What next for the two Indian cricket stars?

Despite being excluded from the BCCI central contract list, both Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan remain key members of their Indian Premier League franchises, Indian Express reported.

Their retention by their respective teams prior to the auction underscores their importance to the team's strategies. While both players are anticipated to participate in the IPL, it's understood that they will only be considered for national selection if they also compete in domestic cricket.

Although IPL contracts for top players are highly profitable, being omitted from the BCCI contract list represents both a financial and cricketing setback. It remains to be seen whether the two will stage a comeback into the national fold, or be replaced by others.

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(Published 29 February 2024, 09:03 IST)

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