The 38-year-old double World Cup-winning former India captain’s omission from the list was not unexpected as he has not played any international cricket for over six months now.
“Let me clarify that one of the top-most BCCI office-bearers spoke to MS and told him about how they are going about in the central contracts. He was clearly told that since he hasn’t played any game in the said period (September 2019 till date), he cannot be included for the time being,” the official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Asked who among BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah and CEO Rahul Johri spoke to Dhoni, the official refused to divulge.
“Let’s not get into who spoke. The fact is that a player of his stature needs to be told that he is not being awarded a central contract for the time being and it was done in an appropriate manner,” he said.
However, the official said that if Dhoni makes it to the World T20 team in Australia (October 2020, after current contracts’ duration ends) or even before that, he can be included on a pro-rata basis.
“There will be an Asia Cup T20 (likely to be shifted from Pakistan) and if Dhoni plays a certain number of matches, he will be automatically included. It’s not like he has been dumped for good. It’s just that he doesn’t qualify because he has not played,” the official said.
The existing rule for awarding central contracts is that a player needs to compete in a minimum of three Tests or eight ODIs to qualify. He can also get in by playing a stipulated number of T20 games (depending on the season when there are more T20s).
“Like Washington Sundar has played 21 T20 Internationals and at least more than 10 in the current season and with more T20s this year, he got a contract. Similarly, Wriddhiman (Saha) had a group C contract last year when he was injured.
“To get into group B, currently, you need to play three Tests and he fulfilled the criteria during the home season. Same for Mayank Agarwal. That’s how it works,” the official explained.
“If Prithvi Shaw is selected in the Indian team and plays just one more Test, he will get a Grade B contract on pro-rata basis,” he added.
Asked if Dhoni might announce ODI retirement after this development, the official was evasive.
“That is something only Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows and no one else,” he said.