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July 10, 2014
New Zealand Cricket appears to have secured two inbound tours from each of the big three, but could have large gaps to fill in their schedule, according to the latest version of the FTP, which stretches to 2023. New Zealand are likely to have a busy home schedule each summer, with as many as seven home Tests penciled in for the 2016/17 season, but are yet to find away Test tours in 2017. The 2018 and 2019 schedules could also be light on away cricket during the New Zealand winter.
The imbalance may stem from New Zealand's commercial position in world cricket. While the Big Three nations can make money from almost any tour, home Tests with New Zealand are not lucrative propositions for teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa. As such, New Zealand appear in most need of assistance from the "Test Cricket Fund" promised by the revamped ICC in February. However, the setting up of this "Fund" had not been a significant point of discussion during the recent ICC meeting in Melbourne, according to one director in attendance.
Among the bilateral agreements fuelling this discrepancy between New Zealand's home and away schedules is the tie with Sri Lanka. New Zealand are set to host Tests against Sri Lanka twice after 2015, only have one trip scheduled to the island, in 2021. Their arrangement with West Indies is even more imbalanced. West Indies visit New Zealand twice for Tests, in 2017/18 and 2020/21, but there are no tours to the West Indies scheduled between the ongoing tour and 2023. The ongoing series is the reciprocal tour for West Indies' visit to New Zealand last year.
Likewise, Pakistan are set to tour New Zealand thrice for Tests, but New Zealand only have two away Test tours against Pakistan - including the three-Test series later this year. New Zealand also have only one home-and-away arrangement with South Africa, though that may in part be due to clashing home seasons. New Zealand have until October to negotiate more winter Test tours, before the FTP is set to be signed. However, tours can be arranged even beyond that date via mutual agreement between boards.
The Big Three nations are likely to play a mix of two and three-Test series with New Zealand. The 2019/20 summer is set to be a bumper for board coffers, with both India and England set to visit and a Test series against Pakistan also scheduled.
Several home-and-away limited-overs tours have also been scheduled, ostensibly both to fill up New Zealand's schedule and to provide additional sources of income. Two home-and-away Test tours with Bangladesh are also in the schedule, as well as one reciprocal arrangement with Zimbabwe.
Member nations have been told to sign their bilateral agreements by the next ICC Board meeting in October in order to firmly establish that FTP is both "binding and bankable".
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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