MS Dhoni has been excluded by the BCCI from a 27-member list of central contract awardees for the 2019-20 season. The ex-captain’s omission is a possible indicator that the legendary World Cup-winning captain’s days as India cricketer are numbered. The 38-year-old former Indian captain who hasn’t played competitive cricket since India’s World Cup semifinal exit to New Zealand at Old Trafford had held an ‘A’ category contract in the previous cycle viz. 2018-19. The keeper-batsman took a sabbatical in the immediate aftermath of India’s World Cup exit but hasn’t been considered for selection thereafter with Chief Selector MSK Prasad stating that the team was “moving on” from Dhoni. Thus Dhoni dhamaka is as good as over.
Knives were already being sharpened when Dhoni stayed away from playing for India after the World Cup 2019 match against New Zealand in July. Some former cricketers held that he would have lost his sharpness by not playing since then while some others stated that he should not be given the privilege to pick and choose matches. Could the BCCI have shown some leniency to Dhoni? After all, how many cricketers, past and present can claim to have led India to two World Cup title wins? Only Dhoni enjoys that matchless record. Add to it is his roster of 350 ODIs, 90 Tests and 98 T20Is you have someone who did India proud and served it with distinction for long.
Even otherwise, his replacement in the shortest form of the game, Rishabh Pant has not exactly covered himself with glory. Dhoni is still the better wicket-keeper and more valuable to the side in other aspects too. May be the BCCI could have been a lot more sensitive to his case. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a most prominent omission from BCCI’s central contracts list for 2019-2020 released recently. His exclusion from the list of cricketers with an annual retainer is yet another indication that perhaps the three-time ICC trophy-winning captain may not don the India Blues again. The contracts for the October-September cycle are awarded by a three-member committee consisting of the BCCI president, secretary and chief selector based on the performance during the last cycle. Dhoni hasn’t played competitive cricket since India’s World Cup semifinal exit. The graded players are:-
- Grade A+ (₹7 crore): Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.
- Grade A (₹5 crore): Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, K L Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant.
- Grade B (₹3 crore): Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal.
- Grade C (₹1 crore): Kedar Jadhav, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Manish Pandey, Hanuma Vihari, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer, Washington Sundar.
It is better to quit the game when people ask why? Instead of dragging so long he ought to have announced his retirement after the World Cup. BCCI is not a place for parking players and hoping for the best in the future.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)