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Tons of runs but no contract

cricket Updated: Dec 17, 2008 23:48 IST
Varun Gupta
Varun Gupta
Hindustan Times
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Aakash Chopra's patience is now running thin. The Delhi opener, generally inured to the life on the fringes and remarkably patient and composed at the worst of times, is now seeking answers; answers not for his constant omission from the national squad, but for the latest barbarism, as some may call it, for not even getting a central contract by the BCCI despite scoring above 1700 runs in the last season.

The BCCI awarded central contracts to 37 first-class players on the basis of last season's performances recently, dividing the players in four grades — A, B, C and D. Chopra was part of Grade D last season but astonishingly, his name is nowhere in this year's list, a development even a tough cookie like him is finding it hard to come to terms with. The omission becomes all the more flagrant when you consider the fact that Chopra was the highest run-getter in first-class cricket last season and the fourth highest ever in it’s history!

Over the years, Chopra has not let such omissions affect him, at least from the outside, as he always cocooned himself in his own world and picked up the pieces to come back stronger. But this setback has justifiably stung him, not because he has not been selected for the national team, but because he has not been deemed worthy enough of being in the top 37 first-class cricketers in the country. It's like ignoring an elephant in the room and going against the fundamental tenet of cricket — that runs are everything.

"This is very disappointing and disheartening. I had a superb last season and was very hopeful, but not getting a central contract is really surprising and demoralising," Chopra said.

At a time when the best way to settle the protracted debate between youth and experience is by counting the performance, whether the BCCI is sending a message that runs don't count after a certain age — Chopra is 31 — is not yet clear, as Chopra has not even been told why he is being repeatedly ignored. What kind of message this sends to the other performing cricketers his age is anybody's guess.