SA players want CSA, BCCI to sort fixtures soon
South Africa's players would like to see an "urgent engagement" between their board, CSA, and its Indian counterpart, the BCCI, to resolve fixtures over this summer's India series. The national team is due to leave for the UAE this Friday but their home tour against India has no confirmed itinerary after the BCCI objected to CSA's schedule of three Tests, seven ODIs and two Twenty20s.
Tony Irish, the South African Cricketer's Association (SACA) chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo that the BCCI's leadership structure has been formalised following yesterday's AGM and the players are hopeful the series can be discussed as a matter of importance. ICC chief executive Dave Richardson also spoke on the issue for the first time when he said they could not intervene in bilateral arrangements.
"This is the main tour of the summer and has a massive financial implication on cricket. We are about six weeks away from it and to have it all up in the air is really worrying and frustrating," Irish said. "The players want to see it sorted out. Until yesterday, CSA did not know who they were dealing with at the BCCI because they had not had their election but now that that is sorted it, they need to do whatever it takes to get the discussion going."
CSA has confirmed it is awaiting the dates of a meeting with the BCCI, although it was earlier mooted that the presidents of the boards would meet at the ICC board meeting on October 16 and 17.
Irish, in the meanwhile, met with all the players as part of his usual pre-season get together and said the issue of the India tour came up among many of them. "The players are stakeholders in the game and will be affected by whatever happens," he said, explaining the impact is two-fold. "It's not just a financial thing, it's also about the opportunity to play in in a high-profile Test series and substantial limited-overs competitions."
The South Africa Test team, ranked No. 1 in the world, has not played a match since February. They were due a bumper summer including two Tests against Pakistan and three each against India and Australia in a bid to extend their lead at the top of the rankings. "This is the best Test team we have ever had and it's a very settled unit. They need to be playing in order to keep that momentum," Irish said.
While seven ODIs were considered overkill, the financial gains would have benefitted South Africa's smaller grounds. Should the tour be curtailed, which seems a certainty in light of India's other series against West Indies and New Zealand, South African cricket could lose up to R200 million (US$20 million).
Irish and the players are not the only people who want to see the issue sorted out. South Africa's provincial affiliates are anxious to know who will host matches and even Richardson expressed concern. "The ICC does not like the fact that two of its strongest members are in dispute. Historically, South Africa and India have been the strongest of allies. The game needs both," he told South Africa's Sunday Times.
But Richardson explained why the ICC cannot intervene in bilateral arrangements. "Constitutionally we are a members' organisation. The ICC only has as much authority over the members as the members are prepared to give it. The ICC currently does not have the authority to determine the FTP. The FTP schedule was determined by agreement between the full members."
The FTP is a non-binding agreement and should countries not reach consensus over the composition of tours, the ICC requires them to play a minimum of two Tests and three ODIs. It looks increasingly likely that maybe that's all South Africa will get out of India this summer, although Graeme Smith's team would obviously like more.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent