Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan: Series of events which led to BCCI axing the duo from central contracts

Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan were all format stars for India just a couple of months ago but now find themselves without a central contract. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced new grade contracts and released both players who reportedly did not adhere to the board's guidelines. 

Kishan last year recorded the fastest double century in the history of ODIs, while Iyer was India's third-highest scorer at the 2023 World Cup with a match-defining knock in the semifinal. Two players who were an integral part of the Indian cricket team until not too long ago, have been shown the door just like that. 

The BCCI had been pushing players to follow the norms and play domestic cricket. Recently, the BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote a letter to all centrally-contracted players to not prioritise IPL over red-ball cricket and asked the players who are not with the Indian squad to join their respective State teams for the Ranji Trophy. The board had hoped that the move would steer Iyer and Kishan in the direction the board wanted. But it didn’t have any effect on the duo and the board decided to make an example out of them. 

Shreyas Iyer contract saga: Star batter and Ishan Kishan lose BCCI central contracts

Series of events which led to BCCI axing Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan from central contracts

shreyas iyer, ishan kishan
Photo by Icon Sport

Amidst a flood of reports and media leaks, let's try to make sense of the whole Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan fiasco by looking at the series of events. 

What happened with Ishan Kishan?

It all started in November-December when Ishan requested the board for a break from the Australia and South Africa T20Is due to mental fatigue but was not granted. Later he withdrew from India’s squad in South Africa for personal reasons. 

In the following weeks, reports kept flooding in. One report stated that Ishan was not happy with not getting picked in the Playing XI and being on the sidelines frequently. Another report suggested that the 25-year-old was partying in Dubai, which did not go down well with the BCCI.

When India's head coach Rahul Dravid was asked about the matter, he said he respected Ishan’s decision. Dravid later revealed that Kishan has not made himself available and also pointed out that any player will have to go through the grind of domestic cricket to get back to playing for India.

When Ishan didn’t comply even after the board's warning for players to join the state team, it rubbed the BCCI the wrong way. Instead of making himself available for Jharkhand’s Ranji Trophy quarters, Kishan was spotted training with his newly-appointed Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya ahead of the IPL. It all but acted as the final nail in the coffin.

What happened with Shreyas Iyer?

Shreyas Iyer’s was a lot different than that of Ishan Kishan and had more mystery around it. Iyer was part of the first two Tests in the ongoing series against England but was left out of the squad for the next two Tests. 

As is the case with every other matter in Indian cricket, this too had conflicting reports. Before the squad announcement for the third and fourth Test, reports emerged that Iyer had complained of a back injury. According to The Indian Express, Iyer had informed the team management that his back gets stiff after playing more than 30 balls.

The other side of this story was that Iyer was dropped based on his poor form. The man who scored over 500 runs in the home World Cup, failed to make an impact in the first two Tests against England. Iyer, who is known to be a good player of spin, could only score 35, 13, 27 and 29 in the first two games. However, only the board knows why he was dropped as players have received longer ropes previously. 

Like Kishan, Iyer was asked to join the Mumbai squad at the Ranji Trophy but he had already complained of a back injury to the Indian management. The NCA physio then stated that there was no such thing, which put Iyer in a difficult spot. 

Iyer did make himself available for Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy semifinal, but it was perhaps too late. In between, Iyer was also spotted at a Kolkata Knight Riders training camp, which didn't sit well with the selectors and they decided to unceremoniously release him from the contract.

What next for Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan?

India captain Rohit Sharma had his say on the matter in the press conference following their series-clinching win over England in the 4th Test. Sharma did not mention anyone but used words such as “hunger” and said that it becomes evident when players don’t have hunger.

From being a regular part of the Indian cricket team to not having a central contract, the world has turned upside down for the duo. Nobody has an idea what holds in their future but one thing for sure, the road back to the Indian team is going to be pretty hard. 

Recently, Kishan played his first competitive game after three months of gap in the DY Patil tournament while Iyer is set to feature in the Ranji Trophy semi-final. However, with the IPL starting on March 22, and no domestic cricket lined up, there is not enough time for them to make good with the board. And if the tension between the two players and the board remains the same, they might not even be considered for the T20 World Cup starting June 1.

What did we learn? 

What this whole Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan saga tells us is that when an organisation and players come face to face, the organisation will come on top more often than not. The BCCI may have their reasons but removing two of your top stars just like that is pretty ruthless. Perhaps not as ruthless as what happened to Virat Kohli and his captaincy.

With the rise of T20 cricket and the affiliation of the IPL franchises with other leagues, there is a sense that the Indian board and IPL team owners could eventually fight for power. And this saga could well be the BCCI's attempt to assert its dominance. 

The Indian board has a history of not taking mental health seriously and this Ishan Kishan case highlights the issue further. 

With the way every matter regarding the players goes down, there is an urgent need for a players association in Indian cricket. 


A strong believer in the fact that Kohli and Paes are the greatest Indian superstars!