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June 29, 2011
India have come out as major beneficiaries of the new Future Tours Programme, which was ratified by the ICC board at its annual conference in Hong Kong. As reported first by ESPNcricinfo on June 25, India, England and Australia will feature in most Tests among the Full Members, and India will play the top teams more frequently than they have in recent years. Also, the Champions League Twenty20 has an official annual window in September, while the IPL seems to have an unofficial one, with few international series scheduled in April and May, allowing most players to participate in it.
India, currently No. 1 in the ICC Tests rankings, will play 102 Tests between now and April 2020, including the current Test in Bridgetown. One-fifth of those matches (21) will be against England. In fact, India will travel to England twice to play a five-match series in 2014 and 2018. Apart from the Ashes, no other Test series involves five matches. In the next eight years, India will play Australia twice at home and twice away - all four-match Test series - and South Africa in four three-Test series.
Another significant detail in the FTP is that Pakistan are scheduled to tour India for three Tests and five ODIs in March-April 2012. If the tour goes ahead, it will be the first Test series between the two countries since 2007, after which political relations between the two countries were strained in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The FTP has accounted for the Test championship play-offs to be played in England summers in 2013 and then in 2017.
In what is likely to come as respite for some, there are far fewer match-ups between India and Sri Lanka. The two subcontinent neighbours played each other in nine Tests, 30 ODIs and four Twenty20s between July 2008 and the 2011 World Cup final, which was deemed monotonous by critics. India will play just 12 Tests against Sri Lanka in the next nine years, and there will be only two bilateral ODI series between the two teams. As reported earlier, India will not host both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe for either Test or ODIs, though they will tour Bangladesh twice, in 2014 and again in 2015, and Zimbabwe twice, in 2013 and 2016.
England and Australia will play 109 and 107 Tests respectively between now and April 2020, with five Ashes series planned - three in England and two in Australia. South Africa will play just 82 Tests and have long winter-breaks. New Zealand will contest in 80, Sri Lanka 88 and West Indies 84. Pakistan, who have had to play their home series at neutral venues in recent times due to security concerns in their own country, will host Bangladesh and Australia in 2012, and South Africa in 2013. They will play 88 Tests in total till April 2020.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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