FTP means no Tests until May 2007 May 10, 2006

Bangladesh left on the sidelines

Cricinfo staff

Habibul Bashar: 'The long break in Test cricket is a real concern for us' © Getty Images
The announcement of the Future Tours Program by the ICC has been met with mixed reactions. Many have highlighted the abundance of cricket scheduled for India, Australia and England, but less has been said about the lot of Bangladesh.

Under the FTP as it stands, discounting the World Cup, the next 12 months sees Bangladesh play 12 one-day internationals and no Tests. That would be bad enough for a country finding its feet at Test level - and, as Australia found out, doing so quickly - but closer inspection shows that 10 of those ODIs are against Zimbabwe. The other two are even less appetising clashes with Bermuda and Canada.

And then there is the little question of India. Under Jagmohan Dalmiya, the then BCCI supremo, India were at the forefront of advancing Bangladesh as a Test-playing country. However, since then, they have not exactly gone overboard to welcome them for a neighbourly tour. Bangladesh were due to visit in April 2005 but India postponed that to October and then did the same as the revised date approached. The FTP scotched any hopes that was about to change. Although India will tour twice in the next six years, they will not welcome Bangladesh on their own soil.

Earlier this week Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh's captain, spoke of his frustration with a situation that means the next Test will be in a year's time at home to India.

"A lot of star players are complaining against too much cricket right at the moment but we are not in a position to join the party," he told the Daily Star. "Rather the long break in Test cricket is a real concern for us. I think it is always good for an improving side like Bangladesh to play as much Test cricket as possible.

"It is really a frustrating situation for us because we have just gone around to showing our gradual improvement in this level. We were just grasping over the finer points of Test cricket which will definitely be hampered when we resume the campaign after a year."

The ICC is at pains to point out that the FTP has been arranged in consultation with all Full Member countries, so it has to be assumed that the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) agreed, possibly not with much enthusiasm, but nevertheless agreed to the schedule.

"The BCB has already talked about the matter and we are really concerned about the long-break in Test cricket," admitted Mahmudur Rahman, the BCB's CEO. "But finding a slot is a real problem. We are working to find a slot for Bangladesh to play at least one Test series within the break."

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