Chennai: Hesitant about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, Murali Vijay has stayed away from cricket of his own volition. A comeback in the near future though, for all his domestic exploits and 3982 Test runs, could be difficult.
Since representing Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2020, the 37-year-old out-of-favour India opener had made himself unavailable for selection as he wasn't keen on remaining inside the bio-bubble, which is part of the BCCI's standard operating procedures for conducting its tournaments.
As a result, the Tamil Nadu selectors did not consider his name for the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Sources in the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) now claimed that even if the seasoned batter expresses a desire to return to the state team, it is going to be "very difficult".
"He would have to get back to training, prove his fitness, prove his form before getting down to playing matches," a source said.
Since pulling out of the Tamil Nadu squad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last December, Vijay has not got in touch with the TNCA.
"Vijay wrote to say that he would not be available for selection for the Mushtaq Ali Trophy in December last year. He has not got back to the TNCA after that and we don't know what is on his mind," the association source said.
"Vijay is said to be hesitant to take the vaccine, which is a personal decision. Also, he is said to be not comfortable remaining in a bio-bubble as part of the BCCI's standard operating procedure."
With the Board's SOP mandating that players enter the bubble in advance and remain there as long as one is in the team, Vijay's unwillingness to do so is an issue.
"When he has not written again about his availability, where is the question of him being selected for the state team. Also, he does not seem to be comfortable with vaccination," another source added.
Efforts to reach Vijay failed to elicit any response.
The right-hander, who has played 61 Tests and scored nearly 4000 runs including 12 hundreds and 15 half-centuries, last played for the country in Australia in December 2018.
He featured for Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2020 in the UAE and was dropped after moderate returns during a forgettable season for the franchise.
He was expected to return to action with the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) earlier this year but opted out of the event's fifth edition and has also not played in the TNCA First division league or any of the local tournaments.
Meanwhile, a senior TNCA official said Vijay has not got in touch with them any time recently.
"Vijay has not contacted us. Last was his communication about his non-availability for the Syed Mushtaq event in 2020 due to personal reasons. He has not reached out again," the official said.
The 2021-22 domestic season has started with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy earlier this month and the Tamil Nadu team has qualified for the knockout phase, which is scheduled to be held from next week.