Cricket Australia has told the BCCI that India would need to play an extra ODI in a future series in Australia if it is unable to reschedule the three-match ODI series to be held in India next January.
That extra match, CA indicated, would be to compensate for the loss of as much as USD 1 million for failing to host a 50-over international series in a home summer for the first time in more than 40 years – the ODI series Australia were due to play at home with New Zealand is likely to be scrapped because of the tour of India.
The proposal was mentioned in an email from CA chairman Earl Eddings to the BCCI last week. Eddings is understood to have marked the email to BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhury along with Rahul Johri, the chief executive officer.
However, top BCCI officials maintain that schedules can’t be changed, with India having already signed off on the ICC’s FTP schedule with other member boards. As per the new FTP, Australia are scheduled to travel to India next year to play a three-ODI series between January 12 and 17. They will leave for India immediately after a home series against New Zealand, comprising three Tests, and the originally planned three ODIs which are now in jeopardy.
The New Zealand Tests are in the Boxing Day-New Year slot where the third Test will likely run from January 3 to 7, leaving only four days before the start of the ODI series in India.
This schedule was finalised during meetings organised by ICC in February. At that point, all member boards had worked out the schedule with an allowance for tweaks of only a day or two. What should have been a straightforward scheduling matter has turned out to be a mess from CA’s point of view.
Incidentally, CA has not yet announced dates for next summer’s Big Bash League, or formal dates for home series against Pakistan and New Zealand. That could be the reason, senior BCCI officials suspect, for CA to now want to tinker with the India tour dates.
There is a possibility that as part of its broadcast contract with Fox, CA needs to ensure contracted players play in the BBL – as it stands, the India tour is likely to clash with the T20 tournament. Consequently, top CA officials have been knocking on BCCI doors searching for a solution. It is believed that both Eddings and chief executive Kevin Roberts are likely to travel to India to witness the IPL final, on May 12, and urge the BCCI to consider other options.
One of those is to defer the Australia series to March, after a South Africa tour to India of three ODIs and three T20Is. But that is unlikely and the BCCI has reminded CA that India players need to get a two-week break before and after the IPL, a policy that is only relaxed in extraordinary circumstances like in the ongoing season, when the general elections and the upcoming World Cup left very little time to play with.
As negotiations have continued, CA has linked the release of top Australian women players for the exhibition T20 matches during the IPL to the non-rescheduling of the men’s ODI series.
In an email response to the BCCI’s request on whether Australian women players would be released to play in the challenge, Belinda Clark, the CA’s interim high-performance head, wrote to say a decision would be taken once both boards had “resolved” the schedule for the men’s ODIs.
Before hosting South Africa, India are also scheduled to travel to New Zealand between late January and early March for two Tests, three ODIs and five T20Is. The BCCI has reminded CA that the FTP was finalised in the presence of other boards, including those of New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the ICC senior management. Broadcast rights for Australia’s series in India have also been sold and BCCI members – the state associations – have approved it.
CA was hopeful of a resolution earlier this month. “We have been working hard to re-jig the schedule to fit a change in dates for the two ODI series, at home with New Zealand and away with India, on the back end of the Sydney Test but there are necessary trade-offs,” a CA spokesperson said recently.
“As a sport, we are fortunate that we have three formats, a compelling international and domestic offering for both men and women. Complexities are bound to and often arise. What we are working through is a solution that sees us honouring our commitments to overseas boards, being flexible to their changing needs, balanced with the need to schedule a summer of cricket that works for the fans. We are confident we will find a way to deliver, with some trade-offs.”