BCCI wants 'prime' home season
The BCCI is looking to establish a "prime season" for the Indian cricket team at home much like it is in England and Australia, thus reducing the team's touring commitments in the winter.
BCCI president N Srinivasan said: "We are starting to look at and define our prime season, and during your prime season you should be playing at home." Speaking exclusively to ESPNcricinfo, Srinivasan said formalising the Indian season would mean a structured calendar of teams touring India. "We want to have possibly one or two visiting teams during our domestic season, starting in September all the way up to March, and we'll see the extent to which we don't tour outside. Given the FTP that is there, we are going to see how we can adjust."
Domestic cricket would also be rescheduled to make home Tests the centre piece of the season, and encourage more international players to take part in the Ranji Trophy. Srinivasan said: "This year we also encouraged our big players and stars to play domestic cricket. This is a change from the last several years." The Ranji format has been changed to three groups of nine teams each, the BCCI had been told by first-class players, that they wanted to play more cricket.
The BCCI's measures over the last few years, Srinivasan said, had sought to improve the quality of cricket particularly of the longer form of the game. "That is where the emphasis is. An uncapped player who has not played for India cannot play in the IPL unless he plays 60% of the Ranji Trophy games. So in more ways than one, we are pushing a player to the longer version."
In a wide-ranging interview, which will appear in full on ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday, Srinivasan spoke about issues concerning Indian cricket, the BCCI's financial power in world cricket, its refusal to accept the mandatory application of the umpire's Decision Review System (DRS), and the IPL's growing influence on players all over the world and the longer form of the game.
Srinivasan denied that the BCCI had taken an 'obstructionist' approach to the DRS. "We have not taken an obstructionist policy. We don't believe in it, so after discussion members have agreed it should be bilateral. I don't want to dictate to other people… our position has been clear from start. We don't believe the technology is good enough."
He said the ICC's statement that the DRS technology had "improved further" was in a way "acceptance that it was not good enough then" referring to the India tour of England last year. "But it was touted as being good at that point in time. Our problem is that when they say it is all right, then they say it'll get better tomorrow, or an improved version now. So we concede the fact that there was less than adequate perfection. Which is our point, if you want to use technology it must be perfect."
Srinivasan also said that restricting the DRS to two referrals was in some ways a contradiction in itself. "If you don't have faith in the umpire, which itself is a contradiction as in cricket the umpire's verdict is final, if a player shows dissent you fine him. But now you're saying that I have two attempts to question your decision. So the reconciliation between that is difficult. So if you take it to the end point of it, then you have two lampposts with coloured lights red, yellow and green, you don't need an umpire at all, as you refer every decision, so let an automatic reply come from there after a review and you say red or green."
India's unwillingness to use the DRS means that there are two officiating systems at work in world cricket, to which Srinivasan said: "It doesn't bother me at all because, apart from all this, there is a cost to DRS and there are only one or two people involved. It's a monopoly-area situation, which I am not going in to here. It doesn't bother me if two other countries use DRS, they are happy, that's okay."
The ICC he said had the right to use DRS in its own events, but the BCCI was very clear in its stand on its usage in any bilateral series featuring India. "We are clear in our mind, but I hope, slowly, people will see our point of view."
The IPL, the BCCI's "showcase event" did not, he said, have a negative bearing on international cricket and the BCCI's refusal to ask for a window for the event, was based on the acceptance of the overseas players' packed international calendars. "The IPL management, the BCCI, franchise owners are aware that all the players won't be available all the time, and we've sort of settled down with that."
The IPL he said was not putting "a strain" on other boards. The event's popularity amongst overseas players were a reflection that, "it's a free world. People and players make their choices and we can't compel a person… I don't think that it is all-consuming." While the IPL attracts cricketers from all over the world, he said, "there are only so many players who can play in the IPL, because we have a cap on the number of players in the team. And from what I have seen, players may not be happy to sit out as we have a cap on foreign players. So squad size and the number of franchises have a limiting effect."
The BCCI he said was aware that there was "no real window" available on the international calendar for the IPL. "The BCCI has recognised that today you have ten Full Members, they play each other home and away once in four years. The number of ICC events has increased from ten years ago, so there's a lot of clutter. So the BCCI accepts the fact that there is no real window and that whoever is available plays."
The BCCI's reputation as a bully on the ICC board he said, was "not fair" - and denied that other boards would be wary of going against the BCCI's wishes. "That is not a fact. In the ICC all members are sovereign. The ten full members are sovereign."
Despite India's 8-0 defeats in England and Australia, Srinivasan said it was not fair to say that India got exposed when travelling abroad. "It's not that we get exposed when we go abroad. Every country is used to its own conditions, whether it is England, South Africa, Australia, so they tend to play better in home conditions, which is what we also do."
He said the media in the other teams did not end up "berating their players for not doing well [abroad]" and that there had to be an acceptance and recognition of the "advantage of home conditions… So I don't think we should run down our players by saying we did not do well abroad. Other teams don't do well when they come to India. In the past, we have had teams that have done well both here and abroad, when players were possibly younger."