India's tour of South Africa later this year has been confirmed by the BCCI, which on Tuesday announced a series of two Tests and three ODIs. The dates and venues for the matches, however, are yet to be announced.*
Responding to the BCCI statement, Cricket South Africa said that the venues were being worked out. "Since the confirmation about the fixtures only came this morning, the cricket ops team will work on this now. At this stage we can't put a date to when the fixtures will be confirmed, but will advise as soon as that process is complete."
The tour's confirmation came after an assurance from CSA that it would suspend its CEO, Haroon Lorgat, from dealing with matters related to India and the ICC pending an inquiry by the world body into allegations against him. The allegations relate to Lorgat's role in the statement issued by David Becker, formerly the ICC's legal head, that the BCCI's flouting of the FTP could have legal implications. In his statement, released to the media last week, Becker had said it was "improper" to allow a member body to "blatantly disregard an ICC resolution".
The issue was touched upon during the ICC Executive Board meeting in London over the weekend and the BCCI's demand for an ethics committee inquiry against Becker and Lorgat gained a lot of support. Many ICC Full Members are believed to have expressed their reservations over Lorgat being a part of ICC proceedings. The BCCI, in its release announcing the series, said the ICC "is now considering its legal options" in respect to Becker's comments.
The two boards also said that they have agreed to continue discussions "about the possibility of agreeing further bilateral arrangements ... between the two teams, taking into account any scheduling imbalances from previous years".
For now, though, the shortened tour - the original schedule announced by CSA in July had three Tests, seven ODIs and two T20s pencilled in - means a big loss in revenue for the South African board: it stands to lose R200 million (approx. US$ 20m). Also, it is is very likely that the smaller venues, where matches are usually played to sell-out crowds, will miss out on international cricket this year; the ODIs against India was the only international cricket scheduled this season in East London and Bloemfontein. The window for the series also indicates that CSA cannot host a New Year's Test - that means no India Test at Newlands, or possibly no traditional Boxing Day Test in Durban with a change of venues being an option.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his team would be disappointed if the New Year's Test indeed does not happen. "There is a natural disappointment but we don't have enough information. We haven't had any information given to us as a team about the fixtures," Smith said on the eve of second Test against Pakistan, in the UAE. "As far as a New Year's Test goes, its our marque event of the summer and as a team we were hopeful that would happen but we've just got to wait."
Lorgat has been suspended from two of the most important responsibilities in his job profile, but will continue to take care of all the domestic affairs at CSA as well as deal with other ICC members. CSA is yet to appoint a replacement to oversee the India tour in Lorgat's absence.
The South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) also expressed its disappointment at the shortened series. "Everyone is now deprived of a meaningful series, especially in the Test format between the world's top two cricket nations," SACA's chief executive, Tony Irish, said. "I don't see how this can possibly be in the interests of either cricket in this country or of the global game. Cricket is the loser, plain and simple. In addition CSA will suffer massive financial losses which will affect players, cricket programmes and cricket development at all levels in our country.
"The only positive to emerge today is the stated commitment of both CSA and the BCCI to continue with good faith discussions over the possibility of agreeing further scheduled fixtures between the two teams. At very least the players and the fans of both countries deserve that and should be entitled to hold the two boards to this commitment."
The announcement of the tour ends a story that has been playing out for several months and severely tested the relations between the BCCI and CSA, which have been on best terms since the end of apartheid in the early 1990s.
The origin of the issue was the schedule for India's tour of South Africa, which was announced by CSA on July 8. However, it immediately fell into problems because the schedule had not been endorsed by the BCCI. And though there was no official statement, the sticking point seemed to be CSA's appointment of Lorgat as its chief executive despite a series of run-ins between Lorgat and the BCCI during his tenure as ICC chief.
*06.50GMT, October 22: This article has been updated after the BCCI confirmed the South Africa series
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo