The FTP that came up for discussion and was agreed in principle at the BCCI's special general meeting on Monday included no bilateral matches with Pakistan, but it is set to be challenged by the PCB. The Pakistan board has reiterated it will not sign on the new schedules unless there is some agreement for their team to play India. The PCB has moved the ICC Dispute Resolution Committee with India unable to honour their commitments of paying Pakistan.
The BCCI stance remains the same: there can be no cricket with Pakistan outside the ICC events unless there is government clearance. Asked about the Pakistan situation, the BCCI's acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said: "It is something which...it is a question which is embedded not in the matrix of cricket alone. That is publicly recognised. Unless you put together all factors that determine an event, it is futile attempting to answer that question."
Nor has the PCB budged. "The PCB has also informed the ICC that it has initiated a dispute resolution process against the BCCI under the ICC Dispute Resolution Committee Terms of Reference," a PCB release said. "Further to that the PCB's claim is based on an existing agreement with the BCCI which contemplates that India will tour Pakistan in December 2019, August 2020 and Nov-Dec 2022 and Pakistan will tour India in Nov-Dec 2021."
The PCB insisted that its agreeing to the new FTP depended entirely on the outcomes of the dispute resolution proceedings. "Under the prevailing circumstances, it is PCB's position that if the Dispute Resolution Committee decides the dispute in PCB's favour then any FTP will need to be adjusted to reflect the decision," the PCB said. "Any agreement of the PCB to any new FTP structure will therefore be without prejudice to its existing claims against BCCI and will be subject to the outcome of the ICC dispute resolution process.
"Our position is that PCB's agreement to the revised structures for international cricket is subject to the condition that PCB has a valid agreement to play bilateral matches with India and India vs Pakistan matches would be included in the FTP."
On a day the BCCI reported more than half of India's matches will be played against Australia, England and South Africa in the next FTP cycle (between the World Cups of 2019 and 2023), primarily because it is what broadcasters demand, it was hard to miss that India v Pakistan was a contest the broadcasters would have lapped up. Choudhary did not negate the commercial value of a series against Pakistan, but said that was an issue that could be discussed only if it was possible for India to play Pakistan.
When asked if indeed it was by some miracle possible to play Pakistan in this FTP cycle, Choudhary said the BCCI will be only too glad to find a place in the schedule. "If we could manoeuvre our calendar after having made space for a proposed tour of Pakistan [in the current FTP], I am sure depending on the new situation, new ways will be found," he said.
Before all that, India might have an immediate problem at hand. India is supposed to host the Asia Cup later this year, but Pakistan's participation in that remains a stumbling block. There will be an Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting on December 18, but Choudhry wasn't very hopeful of being able to host Pakistan.