In the past week, Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan were not offered a central contract by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The BCCI was not amused by the way these two cricketers had skipped the ongoing Ranji Trophy tournament, which is still the country’s premier first class tournament despite all the hype surrounding the cash-rich IPL.

Though Iyer later joined the Mumbai team that defeated Tamil Nadu in the semi-finals, and is likely to turn out in the finals against Vidharba this Sunday, Kishan’s case remains shrouded in mystery.

But the larger question here is players skipping Ranji Trophy and prioritising the IPL. The BCCI has quite rightly cracked the whip and prioritised Ranji Trophy but it may be a little late in the day for that.

There was a time in the 1970s and 80s when Ranji Trophy matches used to attract huge crowds. Reasons for that was there was hardly any cricket on TV those days but more importantly India’s top cricketers of that era played in it regularly.

Since the 1990s given the crowded cricketing calender top cricket stars hardly found the time for playing in Ranji Trophy.

That players such as Sarfaraz Khan and Devdutt Padikkal were picked on their Ranji performances is heartening. But the BCCI could do more to make the Ranji Trophy attractive for spectators.

Making the top cricketers play at least from the knock-out stages of the tournament could be an option. But for that the international schedule must be reworked, which could be a challenge.

This year’s Ranji finals is starting on Sunday (March 10) and the ongoing final India-England Test is ending on March 11. This sort of scheduling hardly helps the Ranji Trophy’s cause. But it’s time some serious thought was given to reviving interest in India’s premier domestic tournament, named after a man who did precious little for Indian cricket.