The Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) decision to include injured pacer Jasprit Bumrah in its annual list of contracted players angered Team India fans.
The BCCI's move to award Jasprit Bumrah, the national team’s top contract worth seven crores, comes at a time when he has been out of the Rohit Sharma-led side for nearly a year.
While Jasprit Bumrah got rewarded, some other big names could not make it to the list of 26 players who were handed the annual contracts for the 2023-24 season.
Among the men to miss out on a contract were veteran fast bowler Ishant Sharma, senior pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) batter Dinesh Karthik and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
However, the development wasn't appreciated by Team India's admirers, telling the board it was a “shameless” act given that Jasprit Bumrah hasn't provided his services to the national side for quite some time.
On the other hand, another section pointed out that the BCCI looked clueless about Team India’s World Cup plans as the contract list featured Shikhar Dhawan.
The veteran India opener has been dropped from the ODI squad and is no longer a part of Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma’s scheme of things in the 50-over format.
A few even mentioned that Bhuvneshwar Kumar should have been included in the contract list if not in the top tier, considering he played for India just four months ago in New Zealand. But the BCCI thought otherwise.
Why Jasprit Bumrah is their in A+ Category? Even he wasn't play a single match since more than 6 Months and even low chances to play in coming 6 Months too…. Other hand Buveneshwar Kumar is not in even C Category….. Shame on You BCCI….
— Pravin Popat Bitale (@Pravinbitale) March 27, 2023
What is your criteria to take players in contract.
Shami is more senior than Bumrah.
More wickets took than Bumrah.
Average is almost same
Why Bumrah got A+ and Shami got A
— salim ahmed (@salim_khan123) March 27, 2023
I am not sure @BCCI is really active. There are trying to settle their budget than the game of cricket. I am really shock to see a match winner among the cloud of players. painful to watch our team's play. full of uncertainty. The beauty is the Mr. Wall is thecoach
— Nagarajan Rao (@raonrak) March 28, 2023
Why @Jaspritbumrah93 in A+ without play any match last 8 month…… And most of deserving players out of list totally poltics…
— Sanjay Dhiman 🇮🇳 (@sanjaydhiman161) March 27, 2023
Jasprit Bumrah’s last appearance for the Indian Cricket Team was against Australia during a home T20I series in September last year. Subsequently, a stress fracture in the back denied him the opportunity to participate in the T20 World Cup.
In his absence, the Rohit Sharma-led Team India exited the event in the semifinals, losing to eventual champions England by ten wickets.
The 29-year-old, regarded as the best all-format speedster in the world, is a genuine wicket-taking option – both with the new ball and in the death overs.
Jasprit Bumrah’s unique action allows him to exert extra bounce from the pitch with the new ball. Also, he can outfox batters with his toe-breaking yorkers in the final overs of the opposition’s innings.
He was on course to mark his return to India duty in January during the ODI series against Sri Lanka. But the BCCI pulled him out of the three bilateral matches citing concerns over escalating his back injury.
Subsequently, Bumrah moved to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, where medical experts suggested rushing him into international cricket could put his career at risk. The NCA staff suggested that he undergo surgery on his lower back after niggles resurfaced whenever he attempted a comeback. The problem initially appeared in August 2022.
Earlier, Jasprit Bumrah underwent surgery for the issue in New Zealand. He will miss the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the World Test Championship in England in June.
As per a cricket portal, “Bumrah is expected to stay in New Zealand till the end of March. The roadmap for his return, as prepared by the BCCI’s medical staff, is for him to resume training and bowling by August, and his workload will increase gradually after that, with the plan to get him completely fit for the World Cup.”
“The Indian team management, as well as the NCA, want Bumrah to return only when he is absolutely fit to perform at his peak, with captain Rohit Sharma also warning India against rushing him back into action,” the report noted.
“About Bumrah, I’m not too sure at the moment, of course for the first two Test matches he’s not going to be available,” Rohit Sharma said after India clean swept New Zealand in the ODIs in January. “I’m expecting that; not expecting but hoping he plays the next two Test matches but again we don’t want to take any risk with him. The back injuries are always critical. We have got lot of cricket coming up after that as well, we will see, and we will monitor. We are in constant touch with doctors and physios at NCA and we are constantly hearing from them.”
Meanwhile, a BCCI official on the condition of anonymity recently told the Indian Express newspaper that the Gujarat-born cricketer’s back was in a “fragile state” right now.
“Not many in the BCCI are aware of his injury. Only VVS Laxman (NCA director) has been assigned to speak to him and the physios. Even the selection committee has been told that they will be informed about Bumrah’s actual injury and his rehab details in due course,” the BCCI source said.
“His back is in a fragile state right now. Besides, last time Bumrah’s return was hastened. Since he hadn’t fully recovered, he had discomfort while bowling on his return. This time, we are more conservative as a wrong call might even result in a career-threatening injury,” he added.
On the other hand, former Sri Lanka pacer Dilhara Fernando and ex-Australia captain Aaron Finch claimed that Jasprit Bumrah was crucial for India's World Cup plans.
“Bumrah is just amazing. If you look at India's performances in the last five years, Bumrah has played a very big role. He has been leading the pace attack really well. He is a game-changer. I am not sure about his injury updates, but he will be a key player for India in the World Cup. Rohit will need him in the World Cup. India and Rohit will really need him in the World Cup”, Dilhara Fernando told Times of India.
“Bumrah in Indian conditions is another level. He is a nightmare for the opposition. India's pace attack looks good, and India are top contenders at the World Cup. Bumrah and Rohit know each other closely and have a good camaraderie, so Rohit would want Bumrah badly in the World Cup. IPL and Mumbai Indians have played a big role in Bumrah's career. Rohit and Bumrah have a good mutual understanding, especially in tough conditions. Bumrah will be key for India as well as for Rohit,” he added.
“I think getting Jasprit Bumrah back is vital for India. He is the best in the world when he is up and running. So, if he is not available, that will probably lead to a hole in the innings in terms of wicket-taking ability because he is so dangerous,” Aaron Finch concluded.