India itinerary mess leaves franchises in limbo
South Africa's franchise associations have urged Cricket South Africa to finalise quickly the itinerary for the upcoming home series against India with the BCCI, given that ticket sales are at stake. The Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB), which manages the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, is concerned it might not get to host the third Test, scheduled from January 15, but has decided to release season tickets despite the uncertainty.
"All we know is what we have read (in the press)," Gauteng's CEO Cassim Docrat said on Monday. "We could be one of the affected parties so we need to know what's going to happen. We have (asked CSA), but (as of Sunday afternoon) we haven't had a response from them yet.
"We are going to go ahead with our season ticket sales based on the original itinerary. We can always change midstream if we need to - the longer we wait to put them on sale, the longer we keep people in limbo."
The Cape Cobras (Newlands) have already announced their ticket prices for the T20 (November 24), ODI (December 15), the New Year Test (starting January 2) and the Australia Test in March. Kwa Zulu Natal (Kingsmead, Durban), which is scheduled to host the Boxing Day Test, is also expected to release tickets soon. Johannesburg is also due to host a T20 and an ODI.
Another franchise official, who did not want to be named, said they would "urge CSA to sort this out very quickly." They also said it was discussed at last week's CEOs conference and there were concerns over the status of the upcoming home series, which is bound to generate great interest. CSA, however, appear to be in denial that the schedule may be pruned and hence have remained mum on the issue as far as the franchises are concerned.
The BCCI had already objected to the itinerary released in July, saying CSA had announced the schedule without the Indian board's consent. It is understood that the BCCI is on the verge of giving CSA a revised schedule cutting down what was originally scheduled to be a three-Test, seven-ODI and two-T20 tour to two Tests, three ODIs and two T20s.
However, BCCI president N Srinivasan said after the board's working committee meeting on Sunday that the series is "definitely on." 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".
The status and length of the South Africa tour was in further doubt when on Sunday, the BCCI announced it would be inviting West Indies for at least two Tests in November. This would directly impact the South Africa schedule, as India were originally due to kickstart their tour on November 18.
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.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent