BCCI Cracks the Whip. Country First Policy over IPL

Shocking! BCCI Cracks the Whip. Country First Policy over IPL

In an unprecedented move, which will send a strong message to those skipping domestic cricket, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has dropped Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan from the annual contract list for missing Ranji Trophy games.

This is to give a clear message from the BCCI – Country First Policy over IPL.


Presented By: Raghunath Nair

Cricket has evolved and the era of Franchise sport has slowly taken importance over national games.

Football today is popular only because of the various Franchise leagues. Franchise Leagues are more popular and followed by fans than international friendlies and only during World Cups do we see fanbases leaning towards national squads.

As mentioned in our previous article, The Future of Cricket: Predictions and Possibilities

Cricket too, is now showing signs of it moving the soccer way.

Franchise cricket.

Franchise cricket is now the biggest threat that cricket as a sport is faced today. Cricket players will prioritize playing for their franchisees around various leagues than to miss it for national duties. There are many instances where players in their early 30s retire from national duty only to go and play in various leagues across the country.

Knowing very well, the reason of their early retirement or absence to show up for national duty, many boards are not bold enough or have enough cloud to stop or control this player’s movement.

Players do assemble back into national folds for an ICC event but would excuse themselves from national duties for bilateral series.

Weaker boards simply give in to the player’s temptation to play for franchise leagues over national duty

Some recent examples of this

 Harris Rauf

  • Harris Rauf, Pakistan’s premier Fast bowler didn’t show up for national duty and continued to play for the Big Bash League. A furious Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) terminated the central contract of Harris Rauf with a warning but within a few weeks, Harris was featured in Pakistan’s very own franchise league tournament, The Pakistan Super League (PSL). Harris Rauf, ended up missing the tournament after being injured before the tournament.


  • West Indies players had revolted against their Board and senior players like Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder and Kyle Mayers refused to accept the central board contracts so that they be free to play the various franchise leagues around the world. The weak West Indies board had no hold on their players from missing national duties for playing in other franchise leagues.


  • Being an active cricketer, Bangladesh player, Shakib al Hasan missed few national matches as he was contesting election. The board did not take any action and the star player was back on the cricket field to play the cash rich Bangladesh Premier League (BPL)

Afghanistan team.

  • Having created a name for themselves in the shortest format of the game, even Afghanistan players chooses franchise sport over national games. Mujibur Rahman, Naveen ul Haq and Fazal Farooqi asked to be released from their board central contract to play T20 cricket around the globe. The board allowed them the release with a condition, to appear for national duty when needed. With constant cricket, players are always with the risk of injuring themselves which is major concerns for all boards

This issue which earlier evident in football now is staring at cricket for all cricket boards.

Also Read: The Influence of T20 Cricket on Traditional Test Matches

Indian Premier League  

The Indian Premier League is the most lucrative franchise cricket tournament in the world. Players from all across the globe come down to India to participate in this mega tournament.

Indian Premier League

No International cricketer wants to miss the IPL season. Most nations avoid scheduling any international bilaterals during the IPL calendar. But even if due to some reasons, an international bilateral is fixed, a second-string team is sent to cover the stars who continue to play the IPL.

Players have opted to choose early retirement from their international careers to focus on the IPL season. Lasith Malinga retired from the Sri Lankan Test team when the Sri Lankan Test series coincided with the IPL season.

Australian Cricket Board were strict enough to convince some of their injury-prone players to opt out of the IPL, to be ready for future national commitments like the Ashes Series.

Many England players also have opted out if an impending important series was to follow the IPL season. But such cases are few.

Players are more and more moving away from their parent bodies and leaning towards the league way of cricket.

Why BCCI restricted Indian Players from participating in other leagues

Cricket is the most popular game in India. The domestic season, International bilateral, ICC tournaments and the IPL fills up the calendar of the Indian cricketer and hence the contracted players are not allowed to play other leagues.

Cricketers picked for IPL or for national duty come up the ranks from domestic cricket. They are selected based on their performances at the various domestic competitions.

Established players in the national squad or in the IPL tend to keep themselves available only for the marquee games and skips domestic tournaments.

This now has become a big concern for the BCCI as players not only started skipping domestic tournaments, they also skipped national duties citing niggles to be fit and ready for the IPL season.

This has now raised the question Is IPL before country?

BCCI – The Boss

While Other boards have taken very little or no action on players missing out on national duty for franchise sport, BCCI has shown the iron fist and taken a very strict stand on this.

Many statements came out from the board as well as the team management requesting cricketers to play domestic cricket when they were not selected in the national squad.


In a strongly worded letter to all, BCCI secretary Jay Shah reiterated, “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.”

Shah said the letter was “not a critique but a reminder of the values that have shaped Indian cricket over the years. It is a call to collectively ensure that we do not dilute the significance of domestic cricket or weaken its core structure. The responsibility rests with each one of us, as custodians of the game, to uphold the essence of domestic cricket and work together to elevate Indian cricket to newer heights.”

BCCI in no uncertain terms reiterated that cricket in India prioritizes national and domestic cricket over the Indian Premier League.

Captain Rohit Sharma’s stinging statement at the post-match press conference echoed the BCCI stands again


BCCI Cracks the Whip

A clear dictate has been issued to all Indian players on what is expected from them as cricketers.

Fresh annual contracts were announced and to everyone’s surprise, two prominent national players Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan did not make the cut or were removed from the contracts. Both Players gave the domestic games a skip to prepare for the upcoming IPL season.

The Indian board is now proving to be the taskmaster where other boards have been weak or have lost control over their players.


BCCI’s Announced Contract List

List of contracted players:

Grade A+ (Rs 7 Crore): Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja.

Grade A (Rs 5 crore): R Ashwin, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, KL Rahul, Shubman Gill and Hardik Pandya.


Grade B (Rs 3 crore): Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Yashasvi Jaiswal.


Grade C (Rs 1 crore): Rinku Singh, Tilak Verma, Ruturaj Gaekwad, Shardul Thakur, Shivam Dube, Ravi Bishnoi, Jitesh Sharma, Washington Sundar, Mukesh Kumar, Sanju Samson, Arshdeep Singh, KS Bharat, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan and Rajat Patidar.


Fast bowling contracts: Akash Deep, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Umran Malik, Yash Dayal and Vidwath Kaverappa

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Not being part of the central contract has hampered both the player’s chances for the upcoming T20 World Cup

Hardik Pandya, in a controversial move, was included in the annual contract list even though he too had not participated in the Ranji domestic tournament.

Due to his fragile fitness, his body was not ready to take on the rigors of red-ball cricket.

Post his injury recovery, there were no white ball domestic tournaments

While the action taken against the two seniors is in the right direction, these dictates should be for all players with no exception to any player of which the BCCI has been guilty in the past.

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