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'Even if you're a Rohit Sharma or a Virat Kohli you should play domestic cricket'

February 29, 2024 14:09 IST

IMAGE: Former Indian cricketer Kirti Azad said even players of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s stature should play domestic cricket when they’re free. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Member of the 1983 World Cup-winning team Kirti Azad on Thursday backed the BCCI's directive for cricketers to play Ranji Trophy, saying it's a good move and the rule should be applicable to every India team player, including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

The out-of-favour duo of Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer were excluded from the list of centrally-contracted players after they ignored the directive to play Ranji Trophy.

"It (directive) is a very good move. Everybody should be playing Ranji Trophy cricket, but currently the emphasis is on the IPL.


“It is good, it is entertaining but the real cricket is the (five) days' cricket. Playing in domestic cricket is good, it keeps you in touch.

"But whenever you are free, even if you're a Rohit Sharma or a Virat Kohli, you should go back and play domestic cricket for the state. That (state) gave you the opportunity to be a player, get selected and then play for the country.”

‘Just to penalise the two isn’t correct’

He felt that penalising just Ishan and Iyer wasn't right.

"Just to penalise the two is not correct, I think everybody should be penalised. Everybody should be seen with the same mirror," Azad told PTI Video.

Azad declined to comment on whether this was the potential end of the road for Ishan and Iyer after their names were excluded from the list of centrally-contracted players.

‘Are they playing enough domestic cricket’

"My question is, are they playing enough domestic cricket? They are playing T20 cricket, nowadays and every other state has a T20 cricket league.

“Back in the days when we were starting our careers, players like Bishan Singh Bedi, Madan Lal, Surinder Amarnath, Mohinder Amarnath, Chetan Chauhan, Sunil Gavaskar, Sandeep Patil, Karsan Ghavri played alongside youngsters like me and Ravi Shastri.

"All these senior Test team players would play for their sides, would play for the pride of their state which seems missing in the youngsters nowadays," he added.

‘Why can’t our players play domestic matches’

He questioned why India players had issues playing domestic cricket while England cricketers willingly played county cricket when not in the national side.

"Look at county cricket; there are 20-plus counties and there are numerous three-day and four-day games along with T20 cricket, but every player is involved there. If a player is left out of the Test squad, then he returns to play for his county.

"So why can't we have our players playing those domestic matches, that's the big question," he added.

Azad lauds Jurel, Sarfaraz

He praised players like Dhruv Jurel and Sarfaraz Khan for finding the balance between T20 cricket for their IPL teams and playing Ranji Trophy.

"There are players like Jurel, Sarfaraz who do play T20 cricket but, at the end of the day, are also representing their states in the Ranji trophy.

“The bowlers also get into the rhythm of bowling longer spells when they regularly play domestic cricket. It (Ranji) is not a form of slam-bang and thank you," he said.

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