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The Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan saga: Why the two India stars are reportedly set to lose their central contracts

Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan have not played in the Ranji Trophy
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan are reportedly set to lose their BCCI central contracts after failing to play in the latest 2023/24 Ranji Trophy round. Here’s all the latest reports and rumours about the two India players.

After Kishan and Iyer’s recent absences from the Ranji Trophy, the BCCI is reportedly contemplating making it mandatory for centrally contracted players to participate in the domestic tournament. Seeing the latest trend where India players skip domestic cricket if they are not selected for a tour and instead focus on gearing up for the IPL, the board is reportedly planning to come up with a strict policy so that players don’t make “playing IPL to IPL” a habit.

BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote in a letter to top cricketers: “There is a recent trend that has started to emerge and is a cause for concern. Some players have begun prioritising the IPL over domestic cricket, a shift that was not anticipated. Domestic cricket has always been the foundation upon which Indian cricket stands, and it has never been undervalued in our vision for the sport.

“Our vision for Indian cricket has been clear from the outset – every cricketer aspiring to play for India must prove themselves in domestic cricket. Performance in domestic cricket remains a critical yardstick for selection and non-participation in domestic cricket will carry severe implications.”

The words were allegedly directed at Kishan and Iyer, who have reportedly earned the BCCI’s ire for their no-show in the red-ball tournament. While Iyer played the first two Tests against England, he was dropped from the third match, and, thus, available for his state team Mumbai’s clash against Assam. Kishan, who has not been picked for India since he flew home midway from the South Africa tour, did not play a single game.

What is the Shreyas Iyer situation?

Iyer, who underwent back surgery last year, staged a successful comeback and was one of the stars in the ODI World Cup, but has not been able to sustain his Test form. Since his comeback, he has scored 145 runs in eight innings at an average of 20.71. Knocks of 35, 13, 27 and 29 in the first two England Tests posed questions around his spot in the side.

Just before the India squad for the last three Tests were to be announced, reports emerged that Iyer had complained of a back and groin injury. According to The Indian Express, “Iyer informed the Indian team management and the medical staff that his back gets stiff after playing more than 30 balls and he feels pain in his groin while playing forward defence”. He had been advised to rest for a few weeks.

When the squad was announced, Iyer, as expected wasn’t picked. However, a lack of clarification from the BCCI led to controversy. Iyer’s absence due to injury wasn’t clarified in the statement but it had a word each on Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul, both of whom were injured. It suggested that Iyer was dropped instead.

Following Shah’s letter, Iyer was expected to play in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy quarter-final game against Baroda, but he sat out, citing back pain. Nitin Patel, the head of sports science and medicine at the National Cricket Academy, however, refuted Iyer’s claims, stating he was “fit and available for selection” and that there were “currently no fresh injuries reported after his departure from Team India”.

What is the Ishan Kishan situation?

Kishan has been in the news for much longer. After his request for a break after the World Cup due to “mental fatigue” for the Australia and South Africa T20Is was not met, Kishan, withdrew from the two Tests against South Africa due to “personal reasons.”

Read: The Ishan Kishan saga: Why is the exciting wicketkeeper-batter not in the India Test squad?

He has not turned out for India since then, despite reportedly being available for selection. Head coach Rahul Dravid, however, remains adamant that Kishan has not made himself available yet. “Ishan requested a break, and we were happy to give him a break. Whenever he is ready, he needs to play some cricket and come back.”

Kishan did not play a single game in the Ranji Trophy even as he continued training with his IPL skipper Hardik Pandya despite being told by a BCCI official to play in at least Jharkhand’s last game of the edition. Kishan defied the requests and is reportedly set to lose his central contract.

Kishan got a Grade C contract from the BCCI last year, while Iyer got a Grade B retainership.

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