More Tests for major countries in FTP draft
The draft of the Future Tour Programme (FTP) for 2012 to 2020 has a clear division among the Test playing countries, with England, Australia and India scheduled to play the most Tests, followed by Sri Lanka and South Africa. The FTP is to be finalised at the ICC's annual conference in Hong Kong next week.
A working draft of the programme, which ESPNcricinfo has obtained, contains an official window in September for the Champions League Twenty20 each year, and also leaves space for an unofficial IPL window in April and May, making it possible for players from most nations to participate in the league.
The draft shows that India will not host Bangladesh or Zimbabwe for either Tests or ODIs until 2020. India have not hosted Bangladesh in a bilateral series since their getting Test status in 2000. England are also not scheduled to host Bangladesh for Tests in the programme and their only series against Zimbabwe - in February-March 2017 - has no venue specified, though given the time of year it is unlikely to be in England.
The FTP divisions in Test cricket are clear: according to a copy which is with Cricinfo, England will play 99 matches over the next eight years, Australia 92, and India 90. Sri Lanka and South Africa are at the next level, with 76 and 74 Tests scheduled. They are followed by West Indies and New Zealand, with 66 Tests each, and Pakistan with 65. Bangladesh and Zimbabwe bring up the rear with 42 and 41 matches. These are draft options, though, and the final numbers could be different.
There are two five-Test series planned: the Ashes, and India's tours to England in 2014 and 2018. All of India's other bilateral series are between two and four Tests. West Indies and Sri Lanka, however, have nothing longer than three-Test series, while Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are limited to two.
The one-day internationals are more evenly distributed. India will play the most with 166, 89 of which are away games. Zimbabwe have the fewest, 64, of which 37 are at home. All other countries will play between 100 and 160 games. The Twenty20 format has the fewest games, with most teams scheduled to play between 30 and 55 matches over the eight-year programme. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, however, have just 11 each.
India have a comfortable window for the IPL in most years but in 2014 they are scheduled to tour Bangladesh for three ODIs in May, and then start a five-Test series in England in the second week of June, leaving a three-week gap for the seven-week tournament.
England are the only country without a clear IPL window for most of the years, potentially continuing the trend of their players rarely featuring in the tournament. Australia have made space in their calendar to allow their players to take part, while New Zealand are a mixed bag, with tours scheduled in some years and a gap in others. West Indies have series that potentially clash with the IPL as May and June are part of their home season.
A two-week window has been cleared for the Champions League in September, though, so that teams can pick their best XIs.
Among other details in the draft of the FTP, Pakistan are scheduled to tour India in March-April 2013 but beyond that particulars of series between the two countries are vague, with neither the host nation nor the number of games specified in the programme. There will also be two Ashes series in 2013 - one during the English summer and the other in Australia at the end of the year - in order to avoid a clash with the 2015 World Cup.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo