No home-and-away for new FTP
New details of the proposed post-2012 Future Tours Programme have emerged, with David Morgan, the ICC president, stating the home-and-away component of the current model could be scrapped. All teams at present must play each other twice in Test and one-day series over a six-year cycle, but Morgan said the new FTP could reduce the mandatory requirement to one series.
Such a move would allow national boards greater flexibility in arranging bilateral "icon" series, and could lead to an over all reduction in scheduling depending on their manoeuvrings. Morgan was hopeful the relaxation of the home-and-away requirement would appease player unions, who have been outspoken in their criticism of the demands currently placed on elite cricketers.
"The process is similar but the results will be different," Morgan told Cricinfo of the draft FTP. "I can't elaborate, but at the moment it's a requirement that in any six-year cycle each full member has to play the other home and away in a minimum of two Tests and three one-day internationals. I believe there will be a relaxation of that. Perhaps not in the number of games, but there's the possibility of instead having to play everybody home and away in a fixed cycle, you may either play them away or home.
"The FTP essentially is a basket of bilateral agreements between the ten full members with some consideration given to the more proficient associate countries like Ireland and the Netherlands. That set of bilateral arrangements is continuing. I firmly believe that it is very important to consult with the players. Where FICA [Federation of International Cricketers' Associations] is recognised, which is in the majority of countries, we are very happy to liaise and discuss things with Tim May and his team. I find them a responsible body."
FICA last month called on the ICC to scrap the FTP in its current format and enlist the services of independent consultants to devise a new scheduling system. In a letter addressed to the chief executives of cricket's ten full-voting countries, which has been obtained by Cricinfo, May, the union's chief executive, proposed an annual Test and one-day championship he believed would add context and attract renewed interest in the game.
The notion of a Test championship model has been supported by a number of cricketing bodies, Cricket Australia and the Marylebone Cricket Club among them. FICA's proposal would see the top eight nations split into two four-team conferences, with semi-finals and finals to be played every three years. The fourth and final year of the proposed cycle would be referred to as an "icon year", and include the World Cup as well as high-profile bilateral series such as India-Pakistan and the Ashes.
"We believe that the model of bi lateral ad hoc series that have been cricket's structure for the past century (and again from 2012-2020) is fast becoming an outdated model, and will be unable to cater for the changing cricket landscape," May wrote. "It is unusual for FICA to request the ICC and its member boards to review a decision of the ICC board, however, we are of the firm opinion that there are serious flaws in the proposed 2012-2020 FTP that will severely threaten the primacy of international cricket in future years."
The likelihood of such a model being adopted appears remote, however, with chief executives gravitating toward an FTP similar to that currently in operation, with the exception of the home-and-away requirement. Following a two-day board meeting in Johannesburg in October, the ICC issued a release stating an in principle agreement had been reached on the draft FTP.
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo