Uncertainty grips Rajasthan players
The stand-off between the BCCI and the Rajasthan Cricket Association has left players from the state unsure about their future. When publishing their domestic programme, the board had omitted Rajasthan from Ranji Trophy, women's tournaments and all age categories - Under-16, Under-19, Under-23.
Robin Bist, the 26-year old who was top-scorer for Rajasthan last season, had been contemplating a promotion to the national squad and was surprised with the developments.
"Losing a year means a loss of five years," Bist told Mumbai Mirror. "I think that I have a chance of playing for India in near future and this is going to hit me hard. It's not about a year but a career. Administrators will never realise the hours and sweat we put in."
His team-mate Ramesh Powar had opted to cut ties with Rajasthan and had done as the BCCI had suggested - took an NOC to search for an opportunity with a different team. However, Bist believes the process is not quite so straight forward.
"It's not about the NOC. They think that it's easy or what? In any case it's too late," Bist said. "Teams are decided 4-5 months before the start of the season and they are made to play in tournaments like Buchi Babu and KSCA. They also hold camps at home grounds to let the players adjust to the wickets. Ranji Trophy is not village cricket."
Vineet Saxena, 33, highlighted the difficulty of a slotting into a Ranji team's plans when they might already be in full swing. "Good teams have already hired professionals, so to find a team at this juncture would be tough," he said. "And even if the players opt for that, maximum four or five might get teams but what about the rest? And what about junior cricketers?"
Ashok Menaria was one of those younger players who had worked through the system and enjoyed a productive time with India A against New Zealand A last year. The BCCI had said the players would not be affected, but Menaria expressed his concern.
"What can the players really do? Do they have an option? For players who are on the wrong side of 30s, their careers might just end abruptly," Menaria said. "A 20-something still has age on his side and can still afford the loss.
"There are some 500-odd cricketers who represent Rajasthan at various levels and they all are clueless. For the last two months everyone is waiting for some sort of communication."