Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Despite repeated reminders from head coach Rahul Dravid and warning issued by BCCI secretary Jay Shah, some Indian cricketers are constantly ignoring domestic cricket.

Shreyas Iyer is the latest noted Indian cricketer after aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan to add to BCCI’s worries. Kishan ignored Dravid’s advice and did not play a single Ranji Trophy game for Jharkhand in the ongoing domestic season. Now, it has come to light that Iyer did not make himself available for Mumbai’s knockout fixtures. Mumbai are set to face Baroda in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final which starts on Friday.

Iyer informed the Mumbai Cricket Association that he was unavailable for the quarter-final match due to a back injury. However, National Cricket Academy (NCA) head of sports science and medicine, Nitin Patel, in an email to the MCA selectors, informed that Iyer had no fresh injuries and was cleared to play.

The development raises serious doubts over the young Indian cricketer’s indifferent attitude towards domestic red-ball cricket. With the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) being a month away, they don’t want to risk fatigue or injury which may hamper their chances of participating in the world’s richest T20 league. Notably, Iyer, who missed the last season due to injury, is set to be back as the captain of Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2024.

Earlier, BCCI secretary Jay Shah had expressed concern that players are prioritising domestic cricket over IPL which was not anticipated.

“However, there is a 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,” Shah wrote in the letter addressed to players.

“It is essential to recognise that domestic cricket forms the backbone of Indian cricket and serves as the feeder line to Team India. 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 tournaments remains a critical yardstick for selection, and non-participation in domestic cricket will carry severe implications,” he added.

Meanwhile, many experts have blamed the overloaded cricketing schedule as a reason why many cricketers are not interested to play in domestic cricket anymore.

“Very interesting scenario there in India and I have been through this quite a bit throughout my career as well. It is a very tricky situation. Players trying to manage their careers, and rightfully so, but the difficulty around this is that there are a lot of T20 leagues around the world, IPL, and it’s taking up a lot of attention...of the player’s focus is on that,” said former South Africa Mr 360 degree batter AB de Villiers on his official YouTube channel.