Manoj Tiwary: ‘Young players have adopted an IPL-centric mindset’

Manoj Tiwary feels the BCCI’s warning to its centrally contracted players and those part of the wider target pool against prioritising IPL over domestic cricket merely reiterates the concerns he has raised about India’s first-class competition over the years.

“Ranji Trophy should be scrapped off from the calendar from the next season onwards,” Tiwary posted on X (formerly Twitter) earlier this month. In the post, he underlined a number of issues – poor umpiring, scheduling of games in the north and east during peak winters, and unplanned scheduling of ‘A’ tours that eroded a number of first-class teams of their top players. Bengal themselves were without Abhimanyu Easwaran, Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep at different stages of the ongoing Ranji Trophy.

The timing of the post – in the middle of Bengal’s penultimate group fixture – led to him being docked 20% of his match fees. On Monday, Tiwary added to it during a felicitation function to celebrate his nearly two-decade long career that he drew curtains on following Bengal’s Ranji Trophy exit.

“In hindsight, I feel that the directive issued by the BCCI might not have been given had I not posted it on X,” Tiwary said. “Perhaps my post prompted the BCCI secretary to put the players under pressure now. The seriousness they have shown by taking this step in the crucial stage of the Ranji Trophy indicates their concern that many players, especially high-profile ones who have succeeded in the IPL with limited first-class cricket, are not giving enough importance to the Ranji Trophy.”

In an email earlier this month, BCCI secretary Jay Shah had written about “severe implications” for those prioritising the IPL over domestic cricket. He said the “trend” was a “cause for concern”.

“Some players have begun prioritising the IPL over domestic cricket, a shift that was not anticipated,” Shah wrote. “Domestic cricket has always been the foundation upon which Indian cricket stands, and it has never been undervalued in our vision for the sport.”

The email had put in the spotlight players like Ishan Kishan and Deepak Chahar, among others, who have made themselves unavailable for the Ranji Trophy despite being fit. Kishan hasn’t played any form of cricket since withdrawing from the Test tour in South Africa citing mental fatigue. Chahar, who featured in the home series against Australia before withdrawing due to personal reasons, hasn’t played any competitive fixture since December.

“I can observe that young players have adopted an IPL-centric mindset,” Tiwary said. “Those who don’t play IPL often go to Dubai or other places whenever they find some free time. However, this trend is diminishing the significance of the prestigious Ranji Trophy. IPL is a massive platform for all of us, but I also request the BCCI president and secretary to increase the significance of the Ranji Trophy.”

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