Earlier this month, India skipper Virat Kohli had expressed his desire to play county cricket before the all-important England tour later this year.
It has been widely reported that Kohli would play county cricket for Surrey in June. As per the reports in PTI, Virat was to miss Afghanistan’s first ever Test match against India in Bengaluru from June 14 and instead he was to head to the south of London after the conclusion of IPL 2018. Reports also suggested that the Indian captain will make himself available for Surrey’s three four-day matches against Hampshire, Somerset and Yorkshire between June 9 and June 28.
However, Kohli’s decision seems to have created a tussle within the BCCI. According to the reports in The Indian Express, the cricket board officials seek the national skipper’s presence in the historic Test match against Afghanistan while the Committee of Administrators (CoA) want Virat to spend some time in England before India’s tour opener at Manchester on July 3.
“If a decision has been taken to allow the India captain to miss an international game and play County cricket at that point of time, it would set a very bad precedent. It would give a very bad message to the visiting Afghanistan team; that maybe the opponents aren’t worthy for us. It would be disrespectful to the Afghanistan team and also, it would be unfair on the broadcaster,” a BCCI official quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
“(Even if) he is playing in England at that time, he can come back for one Test and then fly back. And if he is so keen to play County cricket, has he sought permission to miss his IPL games?” he added.
The CoA hasn’t received any message from the board officials yet concerning Kohli’s availability for the Afghanistan Test.
“Nothing has come to them” and at this stage, everything is hypothetical. Also, it is very unlikely that the CoA would make such a request to Kohli. These players will be sent (to England) in advance to acclimatise. Six to seven players are going in advance,” a source close to the Supreme Court-appointed CoA told The Indian Express.
The five-match Test series against England is deemed as the biggest challenge for Virat Kohli and company this year. India’s leading Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and speedster Ishant Sharma will be playing for Yorkshire and Sussex respectively from the start of the county season. Moreover, Test specialists such as Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay would be part of Rahul Dravid’s India A squad, which will be playing some first-class fixtures in England, against counties and England Lions, in June.
India’s tour of England will kick off from July 3 where they will play three T20Is and as many ODIs before featuring in a five-match Test series from August 1.