Rethinking the Future Tours Programme
From Andrew Sanderson, Australia
With talk of a Test World Cup, similar to the ODI and Twenty20 World Cups, maybe it is time to have a closer look at the Future Tours Programme (FTP) and how many games that Test teams are playing.
As it stands, there seem to be no uniform tours - each tour relies on the teams involved deciding how many Tests, ODIs and T20s that they will play. If the ICC were to set a uniform tour format, with an equal number of tours for each team, perhaps the ICC Rankings would have more meaning for all involved.
My proposal is simple - we set the number of games for each tour at three Tests, three ODIs and three T20s. The total days in playing time in this format is 21 days. If we allow five days rest between each Test and one day between each of the shorter games, this allows for 14 days rest, bringing the total days to 35. Allow an additional five days between the Test and ODIs, and a day between the ODIs and the T20s, and our tour total reaches 41 days. Finally, give the sides 10 days grace on each side of the entire tour, and the magic number becomes 61 days - about two months.
This format allows the players to have plenty of time before and after each tour (20 days), and allows teams to have six tours per year. Ideally this would be three home and three away tours. Given there are 10 Test teams (assuming that Zimbabwe are taken back into the fold), they would face each other once every 18 months, and in a three-year span would play one home and one away series against each Test nation. Of course, room needs to be made for major tournaments (the World Cups), but as a simple, starting suggestion, there seems no reason why this proposal would not work. If more Test teams enter the ranks, obviously the teams will face off against each other less frequently, but the distribution of games should still be equal.