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Myths and reality behind ICC’s Future Tour Programme

21st century has been a completely different era for cricket. There was a time when cricket followers had to wait for months and days for a series but now there is hardly a day when you don’t find a live Cricket match on TV set.

Cricket got a lot of commercial success through media in the past few years. Social media has increased the game’s fan base massively, people now eagerly wait for future tours and plan their schedule and weekend accordingly. Keeping people’s interest in mind ICC has come up with a future tour programme for the first time in which they presented 4 years schedule of international tours, although the schedule is announced yet it still has to be official signed by all Cricket boards in June.

Cricket followers all over the world have raised a-lot of questions after the announcement of FTP. Pakistan, who became no.1 test side not so long ago, is scheduled to play 28 tests matches in the next 4 year’s which is lesser than Bangladesh, who are allocated 35 test matches. New Zealand to play 28 tests while Sri Lanka and West Indies to play 29.

The misery brought to the Pakistan cricket followers by a completely biased test schedule was not enough till another awful ODI schedule was announced, which added fuel to the fire. The recently crowned champions in ICC Knockout championship are scheduled to play 38 ODI’s which is least among all 12 countries, even Afghanistan Ireland and Zimbabwe will get to play more ODI’s than Pakistan in the next 4 years.

Afghanistan will play 41 while Zimbabwe and Ireland to play 40 and 42, respectively New Zealand is set to play same amount of tests matches as Pakistan.They have a lot of cricket to play at home but not much away. West Indies will tour New Zealand twice in 2017-2018 and 2020-2021 , but there is no tour scheduled to West Indies in between.

Pakistan will tour New Zealand thrice and will host them twice. Australia, England and India to play two-three test series while, South Africa have one home and one away tour. It was expected that the BIG 3 which is now a history will still get more benefit than the other test playing nations. Talking about India, who had already played 28 test matches in last 3 years which includes; 17 at home and 11 in Sri Lanka West Indies and Bangladesh are a clear winner in FTP. They are scheduled to play a total of 158 matches (37 tests ,67 ODI’s and 54 T20’s) out of which 81 are going to be at home. Surprisingly, they will play 50 percent of these matches with top 3 teams South Africa Australia England between 2019-2023.

They’ll also host ICC champions trophy in 2021 and Afghanistan in their inaugural test match.On the other hand, BCCI has made it clear that they won’t be playing any kind of cricket with pakistan in the next 4 years unless their government allows them.They have also denied to face Pakistan in ICC test championship.While PCB has decided to challenge FTP and won’t be signing the proposed schedule due to no series with India in the next 4 years.

This isn’t the first time Indo-Pakistan cricket ties are under contention.Back to 1960, when Pakistan toured India and after that there wasn’t any kind of cricket played between the two countries till 1978 due to political issues.From 1989-1999 they played fair bit of ODI cricket but there wasn’t a test or any bilateral series.In 2007, after facing each other in nail bitter final in inaugural edition of ICC T20 World Cup Pakistan toured India for a test and odi series.In 2009 India were scheduled to tour Pakistan for a bilateral series and there were speculations of India-Pakistan 5 match test series but it all got cancelled due to Mumbai attack.. Pakistan although toured India for a ODI and T20 series but that wasn’t enough to resolve the ties.

ICC should look for a solution as India Pakistan series brings a-lot to the game. The other two Big 3 teams, Australia and England will also get decent amount of cricket in the next 4 years.England will play ( 46 tests,43 ODI’s and 41 T20’s). Australia to play (40 tests,48 ODI’s and 38 T20’s).

Overall it’s an exciting schedule for the cricket followers.The excess of T20 cricket may prove to be a slow poison for the test cricket. Afghanistan getting 13 and 16 tests matches in the next 4 years seems interesting as the two teams after impressive performances in limited overs format were given test status.It would have been better if the other test playing nations such as New Zealand, Pakistan Sri Lanka had got more test matches against top sides which would have been better for the growth of test cricket.

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