No surprises as BCCI denies central contracts to Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan

K.L. Rahul and Shubman Gill earn promotions to Grade A, prolific Yashasvi Jaiswal rewarded with direct entry to Grade B

The contract list has left the option for newcomers to be included in Grade C (photo: @JayShah/X)
The contract list has left the option for newcomers to be included in Grade C (photo: @JayShah/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

There were no surprises really as the Indian cricket board decided to crack the whip on Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan by dropping them from the central contracts list for the 2023-24 season, ostensibly for not playing in the Ranji Trophy. In a welcome move, the contract list released on Wednesday has left the option for newcomers to be included in Grade C if they play a specified number of international matches between 1 October 2023 and 20 September this year.

A terse section in the BCCI press release says: ‘’Please note that Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan were not considered for the annual contracts in this round of recommendations. The BCCI has recommended that all athletes give precedence to participating in domestic cricket during periods when they are not representing the national team.’’

The decision to drop Shreyas and Ishan from the contracts list is more symbolic — with the former paying the price for offering the shambolic excuse of a back spasm to sit out his state team Mumbai’s Ranji quarter-final match against Baroda. He was, however, spotted at a promotional shoot for his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders during that period, but the middle-order batter has since announced his availability for the Ranji semis.

A key member of Indian middle order across formats, Shreyas was also part of the Test squad against England in the first two matches before being dropped on account of a failure to get big scores.

Ishan, on the contrary, excused himself from the South Africa tour owing to ‘mental fatigue’, but has since repeatedly ignored head coach Rahul Dravid’s missives to play some domestic cricket. The 26-year-old was brazen enough to show where his loyalties lie as he independently started to train with Hardik Pandya, his Mumbai Indians captain, and made a comeback in an ongoing institutional T20 meet in Mumbai.

K.L. Rahul and Shubman Gill, meanwhile, earned promotions to Grade A, while Hardik Pandya retained his name in the Grade A bracket despite not having been available for Test selection. Young Yashasvi Jaiswal, the standout performer in the ongoing India-England Test series, has been rewarded for his form with a direct entry to Grade B.

Additionally, cricketers who meet the criteria of playing a minimum of three Tests or 8 ODIs or 10 T20Is within the specified period will automatically be included in Grade C on a pro rata basis. This paves the way for Dhruv Jurel and Sarfaraz Khan, having played two Test matches so far, to be inducted into Grade C if they play the Dharamsala Test.

The selection committee has also recommended fast bowling contracts for Akash Deep, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Umran Malik, Yash Dayal and Vidwath Kaverappa.

Contracted players’ list

Grade A+ : Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja.

Grade A: R. Ashwin, Mohd Shami, Mohd Siraj, K.L. Rahul, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya

Grade B: Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Yashasvi Jaiswal

Grade C: Rinku Singh, Tilak Verma, Ruturaj Gaekwad, Shardul Thakur, Shivam Dube, Ravi Bishnoi, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Mukesh Kumar, Sanju Samson, Arshdeep Singh, K.S. Bharat, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Rajat Patidar

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