BCCI mulls playing 3-4 Ranji games mandatory for IPL participation

Ishan Kishan
Ishan Kishan. File photo: PTI/Kunal Patil

Mumbai: Jharkhand keeper-batter Ishan Kishan's reluctance to play first-class cricket and focus only on the Indian Premier League (IPL) could prompt the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to make a minimum number of Ranji Trophy games mandatory for players in order to be eligible for the T220 league's auction pool.

It has been learnt that the BCCI top brass has already instructed Kishan to play Jharkhand's last group league game against Rajasthan in Jamshedpur, starting on Friday.

The manner in which Kishan had skipped match after match after returning midway from South Africa tour citing "travel fatigue" hasn't exactly gone down well with men who matter in the Indian cricket establishment.

More so after it was found that he is training in Vadodara with his new MI skipper Hardik Pandya while his state team is languishing near bottom of Elite Group A table.

There is a general consensus that a strict policy need to be adhered to so that a group of young players don't make "playing IPL to IPL" a habit.

"The decision makers in BCCI are well aware that some players don't want to play any red-ball cricket. If they are out of Indian team, they would at best play a few Mushtaq Ali T20 games and then not report for state team duty during red-ball season," a senior BCCI official said on conditions of anonymity.

"To rein in such players, board in all likelihood will make it mandatory to play 3-4 Ranji Trophy games, failing which, they can't play IPL or even appear in IPL auction if released by their franchise.

"The state units feel unless the diktat comes from top of BCCI, some of the young stars will treat Ranji Trophy with disdain."

It is understood that even Indian team's think-tank are angry with a certain section of players, who are always reluctant to play Ranji Trophy even when they are fit.

"We can understand Hardik Pandya's case as his body can't take the rigours of red-ball cricket. He can't withstand the workload of Test cricket and India needs him fit for ICC events.

"But some of the other youngsters, whenever you call them, they will cite that they are currently doing physio work. There needs to be a stop somewhere," the official said.

It will be interesting to find out if Kishan finally leaves his "new training base" in Vadodara and is back in Jamshedpur for Jharkhand's final game of the season.

Asked if Kishan would find himself out of BCCI retainership (he has a Grade C annual contract of Rs 1 crore), the official said: "No discussions have taken place as of now regarding central contracts."

With the ICC T20 World Cup starting from June 1 and India playing their opening game on June 5 in New York, the workload of India's core group of players during the IPL, which is going to be tentatively scheduled between March 22 to May 26, will be very important.

However, it is understood that no Indian players are supposed to be given any instructions about workload management during IPL as it is also not being fair with the franchises, who are paying big money to star Indian players.

"They are being paid highly and they can't pick and choose games for franchises. But yes, for all those centrally contracted and targetted players (next lot), the franchise's support staff will have to regularly provide fitness update to the NCA (National Cricket Academy) Sports Science head Nitin Patel."

It is understood that BCCI might send the players, whose teams don't qualify for the IPL playoffs, earlier to New York, while those who play the knockout stages joining them after the tournament gets over. 

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