What's the story?
In what could be a watershed moment in cricket, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are set to formulate a balanced home and away schedule for the Indian team. Reiterating their stronghold over the Future Tours Program (FTP), BCCI have also paid heed to the Virat Kohli-led Indian team's calls for frequent breaks in between major bilateral series.
"In the last one-and-a-half years, we have played mostly at home. In the next 18 months, we are going to play mainly away. But in the new FTP, we have kept a balance between home and away series every year. Secondly, there won't be longer tours with both long and short formats combined", a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
The official added, "The new FTP is a BCCI document. BCCI has already put in what, who and when it wants to play, leaving the rest of the world to work around it. We have taken advantage of the fact that we have to play six countries in two years at home or away. The word 'or' is important because that shows we can balance the series."
While Hardik Pandya opted out of the Sri Lanka Tests citing his heavy workload, skipper Kohli publicly requested to be rested for the white-ball contests against the same opponents. Ahead of an important tour of South Africa, the players were reportedly unhappy with the packed calendar.
The heart of the matter
The game is set for a major revamp as the International Cricket Council (ICC) have finalised separate Test and ODI leagues for the new FTP spanning across 2019 and 2023. Slated to begin after the conclusion of the 2019 World Cup, the Test league will see each team play six opponents in either home or away series.
If reports are to be believed, BCCI are looking to schedule series comprising three to five Tests against the likes of Australia, England and South Africa even as the rest of the Full Members could only attract two-match series. The move is aimed at maximising revenue from television broadcasters.
BCCI's proposal will also see India's home season split into two windows - October to November and then February to March. Ostensibly, they have already conveyed to the ICC that the Indian team will not participate in any international commitments 15 days before and after the IPL season.
ICC's response to BCCI's plans will be known when the members' workshop in Singapore concludes on Friday. According to BCCI's proposal that was relayed to its state associations, the Indian team is slated to take the field on 84 days in the 2019/20 season. It is pertinent to note that the indicated number of days do not include matches in ICC events and Asia Cup.
It is a promising sign that BCCI have finally taken the issue of workload management quite seriously. However, the Indian board's hegemony over the new FTP may not go down well with their counterparts from the other top nations.