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BCCI should ban those ignoring Ranji Trophy: Rohit Sharma’s ‘Jinko bhookh nahi hai’ remark sparks furore in state units

Rohit Sharma’s remark garnered support from several state associations but they admitted that BCCI needs to build a system to avoid the rise of such situations.

Away from the riveting Test cricket action against England, Indian cricket has been grappled with a far significant issue that has led BCCI secretary Jay Shah to intervene and send a warning to all centrally-contracted players who have been prioritising Indian Premier League (IPL) over domestic cricket. Amid the saga, India captain Rohit Sharma too stepped in after the team’s series win against Ben Stokes and his men in Ranchi, asserting that opportunities in Test cricket will only be given to those showing hunger for the format. The statement made in the post-match conference at the JSCA International Stadium on Monday has sparked a furore among the state associations.

India’s captain Rohit Sharma at the JSCA International Stadium Complex, in Ranchi(PTI)

With the advent of T20 franchise leagues across the globe, the club versus country debate has affected a few many cricketing nations. But with BCCI observing a trend among Indian cricketers over the last few years, a warning was sent by Shah earlier this month that players preferring league cricket over participation in domestic cricket will face severe consequences. Shah’s comment came amid players like Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan showing reluctance to participate in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, and rather focussing their preparations on IPL, which begins later next month.

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Speaking to the press on the IPL vs domestic cricket episode, Rohit declared: “Jin logon ko bhookh hai, hum unhi logon ko mauka denge. Agar hunger nahi hai to unko khila ke koi matlab nahi hai (We will give opportunities to only those who are hungry. There’s no point in playing those who don’t have the hunger).”

The hunger that Rohit talked about was there on display when young guns like like Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel, Akash Deep delivered stellar performances through the course of the series against a full-strength England side, and never allowed India to miss the services of the senior players who could not be a part of the contest for respective reasons.

State associations, former cricketers react to Rohit’s comments

Rohit’s remark garnered support from several state associations but they admitted that BCCI needs to build a system to avoid the rise of such situations.

“I concur with the Indian captain. There should be hunger in younger cricketers to play the longest format,” Abhilash Khandekar, president of Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, told PTI. “Ranji Trophy cannot be taken lightly by any player, it is the backbone of Indian cricket. It is the most important tournament in domestic cricket. This should be followed up in other formats in domestic cricket.”

With experienced Indian players showing struggle against spin, former India cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar reckoned that BCCI’s diktat could help these cricketers play better against the variety.

“Playing Ranji is very important. It helps you play spin better on Indian wickets, your overall skills are improved. And when you play foreign teams, it becomes easier (to face spin),” said Vengsarkar, himself a great player of spin. “I feel it is a player’s wish whether to play Ranji or not. If he doesn’t want to play, we have enough in India to choose from, they will play and establish themselves. No one is bigger than the game. No one is indispensable.”

Meanwhile, a state unit official, on condition of anonymity, proposed that India Test regulars should also feature in Ranji Trophy matches, which could work as a motivational factor for youngsters. He further added that BCCI should hand state bodies the power to ban players who ignore domestic cricket.

“This was a much needed step and should have been taken earlier. If an India player is regularly featuring in Ranji Trophy, it acts a massive motivator to the younger players in the squad. I would also want the BCCI to empower state units to ban those players who don’t play Ranji Trophy. If a senior is dropped for once, the juniors would not dare to ignore their red ball commitments for T20 cricket,” he said.


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