South Africa news July 8, 2014

Four-Test rubbers for SA in next FTP cycle

Despite not getting a seat on any of the ICC sub-committees at the organisation's revamp at their annual conference in Melbourne ten days ago, South Africa could make some gains according to the latest version of the 2015-2023 FTP which has been seen by ESPNcricinfo. The draft schedule has four-Test series planned against India, Australia and England, both home and away, which will raise the South Africa's cricketing and monetary profile.

Although South Africa were ranked the No.1 Test side in the world between August 2012 and March 2014, they have been subjected to a lean schedule recently which has been a source of frustration for everyone from former captain Graeme Smith to the fans. Three of South Africa's last five Test series have see just two Tests each and their last four-Test series was when they hosted England in 2009/10.

The draft has South Africa pencilled in to play four-Test series every season from 2015/16 to 2022/23. It also includes a five-Test series against England, in early 2020. There is also a four-Test series scheduled against West Indies in 2020 and one against Sri Lanka at home in February/March 2021.

Apart from the increased number of matches, South Africa will also gain financially from the proposed new FTP. Like the other members of the small seven, CSA only make money when hosting one of India, England or Australia and the more fixtures they have against them, the healthier their bank balance will look. As proof of that, consider that it is estimated that CSA missed out on an approximately R318 million (US$31.8 million) when India's visit last summer was cut from three Tests, seven ODIs and two T20s to two Tests and three ODIs.

Zimbabwe are the other nation who have recently shown how great their dependence on India is. With their administration lurching from one financial crisis to the next, they have had to postpone international series, including one against Sri Lanka last year because they could not afford hosting costs. Only a five ODI visit from India last July provided ZC with the cash flow they needed to pay player salaries and host Pakistan later in the year.

There is good news for them too in the latest draft FTP. Zimbabwe's Test schedule will see them play three Test series against Bangladesh in the next two years, host India for a Test and three ODIs in June 2016 and visit India for the same number of matches in February/March 2019. While Australia are also due to tour Zimbabwe, in June/July 2018 for two Tests and three ODIs, there are no visits either to or from England, in keeping with the political standoff between the two nations.

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".

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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