India news September 1, 2013

Uncertainty over India's South Africa tour schedule

The status and make-up of India's tour of South Africa, scheduled to begin in late November, has been put in doubt after it was left out of a list of upcoming series announced by the BCCI on Sunday. BCCI president N Srinivasan said the series is "definitely on", though, and ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI is on the verge of giving Cricket South Africa a pruned itinerary.

Srinivasan, speaking after the board's working commitee in Kolkata, told PTI: "I've not said that the South Africa series will be scrapped. It's definitely on. We have [merely] proposed a West Indies series in November. There were neither any discussions on the South Africa series, nor did any members raise any questions on it."

Despite the supposed lack of discussion on the subject at the meeting, it is understood that negotiations between the BCCI and CSA have been on for quite a while, and the BCCI is on the verge of giving the South African board a revised schedule cutting down what was originally scheduled to be a three-Test, seven-ODI and two-Twenty20 tour to two Tests, three ODIs and two T20s. The BCCI had already objected to the itinerary released in July, saying Cricket South Africa had announced the schedule without the Indian board's consent.

"Our priority is to look after the interests of our players and the board," a BCCI official said. "And such a long tour wasn't viable from either perspective. We need to space out tours so that cricketers get much-needed breaks between them."

A CSA official told ESPNcricinfo that the board had not been contacted by the BCCI on the schedule yet, and it would not respond till it receives "a formal proposal".

If CSA goes with the reduced series, the next bone of contention would be the Boxing Day Test. CSA had reintroduced the traditional Test while announcing the itinerary for India's tour in July. However, the BCCI may demand that the Tests be played before limited-overs' games, thus taking a Boxing Day Test out of equation.

The BCCI has had issues with CSA over the past year. The Indian board had "raised concerns" when it was known that Haroon Lorgat was in the running to take over as CSA chief; the BCCI and Lorgat are thought to have clashed over several issues, including the Future Tours Programme, the DRS and an ICC independent governance review, during the Lorgat's tenure as ICC chief executive officer.

CSA officials had travelled to India in February to meet with the BCCI to discuss their objections to Lorgat, and, after his appointment, Lorgat had said improving relations with the BCCI was a priority. "If I need to sit across a table, to go to India, whatever it takes to smooth things over... I have to put CSA first," Lorgat had said. "When the issues come out, if it means I have offended someone and I need to apologise, I will."

There is also a feeling in South Africa that the BCCI has been trying to isolate the board through the Champions League Twenty20. The BCCI owns a 50% stake in the tournament, the boards of Australia and South Africa share the rest equally. It is learnt that CSA was not consulted before the fixtures were announced for the 2013 tournament, which starts in India later this month, and South African staff due to attend it are now inclined to stay away.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo