India news July 10, 2014

BCCI seeks to limit India's bilateral T20s

The BCCI is yet to officially approve India's Future Tours Programme for the coming cycle, from 2014 to 2023, due to an issue over the number of T20s scheduled in bilateral series. The board is reluctant to play more than one T20 in a bilateral series.

They had signed MoUs with all other boards over the number of bilateral series to be played over the next years on the sidelines of the ICC's annual conference in Melbourne, but the number of matches, especially T20s, for each series is far from being final.

India are supposed to play 47 T20s during the next FTP cycle, starting with the tour to Australia in December 2014 and culminating with New Zealand's tour to India in January 2023. These 47 matches, excluding the ones during the World T20, are spread over 29 bilateral series.

However, 13 of those 29 series have India playing at least two T20s. The BCCI seniors' wish to cut down on bilateral T20s might stem from a desire to maintain the appeal of the Indian Premier League. All the top players in India are seen in action for their respective franchises in at least 14 games per IPL season and a possible two to four additional games should the team make the playoffs.

No one from the BCCI officialdom admits the fact as it is, though. Some of them stress on the fact that they don't want "Indian players to play too many T20s, thus resulting in ODIs being completely redundant". As a result, the BCCI will try and negotiate with seven of the 10 cricket boards for reducing the number of T20 fixtures.

According to the existing FTP draft, every team barring England, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are slated to play two T20s against India in a series at least once over the next eight years. If BCCI succeeds in its negotiations, South Africa and Pakistan will be the biggest losers. While India is supposed to play two T20s in each of its four bilateral series with South Africa during the FTP window, Pakistan are pitted against India in 11 T20s spread over five series.

If the other boards cede to BCCI's request, then there could be a minor change to the number of ODIs to be played in the series. Pakistan's itinerary is likely to remain unchanged, since Pakistan cricketers don't feature in the IPL and the broadcasters are likely to put their foot down. A reduction in number of T20 games in an India series, especially at home, would result in significant loss of revenues for Cricket South Africa.

The BCCI have traditionally been averse to playing T20 fixtures in bilateral series. Ever since India's maiden T20 international in South Africa in December 2006, the Indian team has played only 52 T20s and 28 of them have been spread over five World T20s.

Besides finalising the FTP of the national side, the BCCI is also planning to formulate its own schedules for the India A and India Under-19 sides. The consensus among the top management of the BCCI has been that as far as possible, the junior and the A sides should tour major cricketing opposition in the months before the national team's tour to the country.

The BCCI has already started implementing the theory with India A sides since last year. Fringe players toured South Africa A before India's curtailed tour to South Africa in December 2013. Similarly, India A is touring Australia at the moment, five months ahead of the senior side's four-Test series. The BCCI hierarchy wants the same policy extended to the Under-19 team in order to give more exposure to talented youngsters.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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