‘If you don’t respect…’: Ex-Pakistan cricketer lauds BCCI’s termination of Ishan Shreyas Iyer’s contracts

The Indian cricketing authority’s governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has maintained its reputation for upholding the traditions and importance of domestic cricket. In a striking move that has resonated throughout the cricketing world, the BCCI has terminated the annual central contracts of Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan for the 2023-24 season. This decision came in response to both players ignoring their commitments to red-ball domestic cricket despite receiving explicit warnings from the Board and its secretary, Jay Shah. This bold step by the BCCI serves as a stark warning to cricketers, emphasizing the value they are expected to place on domestic formats of the game.

The termination has elicited a range of reactions within the cricketing community, with some commentators describing the move as excessively harsh. Among those is former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan, who seemed to empathize with the affected players. In contrast, the sentiment was not unanimously shared, as exemplified by former Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, who publicly supported the BCCI’s decision. Akmal concurred with the notion that the sanctity of the game trumps individual interests, and players should unequivocally acknowledge that priority.

Through his YouTube channel, Akmal voiced his backing for the BCCI’s authoritative stance: “BCCI has made the right call, taking such strict action early on to control the damage. If they had given them a levy and handed them central contracts, a lot more players would have started playing on their own terms in the future. India have given a message to their players to ensure that nobody even thinks of doing something like this the next time. This is proof of good management. Nobody is bigger than the game.”

Moreover, Akmal raised a question that resonates with the core values of cricket, “Shreyas Iyer played the first two Tests of the series. If you don’t value the cricket because of which you made it to the national team, what message is it going to give to all the youngsters?”

The crux of the matter lies in the specific instances which led to the board’s decision. Ishan Kishan faced criticism for training with his Indian Premier League (IPL) captain, Hardik Pandya, instead of representing his state team, Jharkhand, in the Ranji Trophy, or fulfilling the BCCI’s directive to play certain games before being considered for the national team. Similarly, Shreyas Iyer’s presence at the Kolkata Knight Riders camp, his IPL franchise, was deemed problematic especially when he was reportedly nursing an injury.

These events underscore a growing trend of cricketers prioritizing the more lucrative and high-profile IPL over their domestic cricket obligations. While the financial and celebrity allure of the IPL is undeniable, the BCCI’s recent actions remind players of the foundational role domestic cricket plays in their personal development and the broader health of the national cricketing ecosystem.

In the wake of this decision, the future for both players now hinges on their performance in the IPL as well as their engagement in domestic cricket. A resurgence in form coupled with a renewed commitment to domestic fixtures is likely the pathway back into the national squad. The BCCI’s unwavering stance sends a clear message: respect for the game and its structures is paramount, and any deviation from this ethos will not be tolerated, irrespective of the player’s stature.

In conclusion, the BCCI’s decision to terminate the contracts of Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer serves as a tangible manifestation of the value placed on domestic cricket in India. The repercussions of this move will likely reverberate through the cricketing ranks, prompting players to consider their priorities and respect the very platform that provides the stepping stone to national and international recognition. As the narrative unfolds, the cricket world watches to see how this bold move by the BCCI will shape the future conduct of players and the overall integrity of the sport.

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