Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
The Indian Premier League has been all but formally recognised in the new Future Tours Programme as a global event. In the next FTP cycle (2019-23), the IPL is the only domestic Twenty20 league during which all international cricket will come to a halt, for a period of two months, across April and May.
Though that has more or less been the case since the IPL began in 2008, an internal ICC document, which lists and dates all the major tournaments in the 2019-23 cycle, includes dates for the IPL alongside major ICC events such as the World Cup, the Champions Trophy and the World T20.
According to the dates submitted by the BCCI, which are with the ICC and have been identified in the new FTP, the IPL will be played each year from around the end of March until the end of May. Over five seasons, the only international cricket that might coincide with the league are two series featuring Ireland against Zimbabwe and one where England play a three-ODI series against Netherlands, the 13th-ranked side in the ODI league.
Over ten years, the IPL has become the most lucrative and powerful cricket tournament not just for the BCCI, but also for a host of the world's best players, many of whom have not shied away from foregoing international assignments to play in the league. But despite its growing impact on the international calendar, the BCCI and ICC have both been against recognising an exclusive window in the international calendar, mostly because doing so would mean it would need to consider a similar allowance for the other domestic T20 tournaments around the world.
However, it would appear that both the Indian board and the ICC have shifted from that stance. Geoff Allardice, the ICC's general manager of cricket, was in India to meet Rahul Johri, the BCCI's chief executive officer, in November to discuss the FTP in preparation for the ICC scheduling workshop in Singapore, which was held on December 7 and 8. At the workshop, where member countries fleshed out a week-by-week schedule of the new FTP, the April-May period has been left blank.
According to the events document, penciled in at the scheduling workshop in Singapore, the 2018 edition of the IPL will begin on April 4 and end with the final on May 27. The IPL dates for five-year cycle in the FTP (between 2019-23) are: April 3 to May 26 (2019); April 1 to May 31 (2020); March 31 to May 30 (2021); March 30 to May 29 (2022); March 29 to May 28 (2023).
The ICC also has earmarked the dates for global events that fall in the 2019-23 FTP cycle, starting with the 2019 World Cup in England, which starts on May 30, four days after the IPL; the World Cup final is scheduled for July 14. In 2020, Australia will host the World T20 between October 24 and November 15. The other two marquee events in the second half of the new FTP will be hosted by India: the Champions Trophy will be played in 2021, between October 21 and November 14, while the 2023 World Cup starts on February 9 with the final on March 26.
The Asia Cup, which features the top five countries of the Indian subcontinent, has also got a fixed window for the next three editions. The tournament will be played between September 15-30 in 2018, 2020 and 2022. The Asia Cup is not part of the ODI League; in the recent past, the tournament has been played in both ODI and T20 formats.
All these dates are virtually confirmed, but there remains a question mark on the IPL dates, which will undergo some tinkering. That is because, as per the judgement of the Supreme Court of India, the Indian team cannot play any international cricket 15 days before and after the IPL. Since most of the global tournaments start and end in the week before and after the IPL, this is something BCCI will need to work out soon. However, according to officially privy to preparation of the FTP, the BCCI is likely to adjust the end-dates of the IPL in years like 2019, when the World Cup warm-umps will clash with the last stages of the league.