A new four-year Future Tours Programme (FTP) that limits the match days to a maxium of 90 per year apart from the ICC events. Better compensation package for players, with special incentive for Test specialists. On Thursday, these were the main points agreed on in principle at a meeting where India captain Virat Kohli, his predecessor MS Dhoni and head coach Ravi Shastri sat across the Committee of Administrators (CoA).
The CoA intends to announce the new FTP and compensation package before India’s tour of South Africa in January. And most importantly, it is learnt, the Supreme Court-appointed committee might bypass the BCCI general body and directly seek approval from the apex court for implementation. “The CoA is mulling on taking the matter directly to the court (for approval). If the BCCI becomes obstructive (to the changes), the matter will directly be taken to the court,” a source informed.
The meeting today discussed various issues. With Kohli bemoaning lack of preparation time for the upcoming South Africa tour, the CoA headed by Vinod Rai focused on having more balanced itineraries for the Indian team. “The meeting was very fruitful. The cricketers appreciated the fact that for the first time they were being heard. We will come up with the next four year’s FTP, limiting the number of match days to 83-85, maximum 90, per year apart from the ICC events. We have decided to have a 15-day gap both before and after the IPL. Early burnouts of players will occur if they keep playing matches (non-stop). You must have noticed that stadiums in Kolkata and Nagpur were empty (for the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka). So besides players fatigue, we have also considered spectators fatigue,” Rai told The Indian Express.
“Unfortunately, we get only two days before we fly to South Africa after this series gets over. So we have no choice but to be in game situation and think of what’s coming ahead of us. Ideally, we would have liked a month’s gap and to be able to hold a camp to prepare for that tour,” Kohli had said, ahead of the second Test in Nagpur.
The skipper then criticised the cramped schedule, saying: “As usual cramped for time, which I think we needed to assess in future as well because we very easily assess the team when go abroad but we don’t look at how many days we have got to prepare before we go to a particular place to play.”
Between September 22, 2016 and November 7 this year, the Indian team had 117 days of scheduled international cricket apart from the ICC Champions Trophy. The ongoing home series against Sri Lanka comprising three Tests, three ODIs and three T20 internationals came close on its heels.
The series finishes on December 24 and the team leaves for South Africa on December 27 to play three Tests, six ODIs and three T20 Internationals.
After principally agreeing upon a nine-team Test league from 2019, the ICC has arranged a workshop on FTP for its members in Singapore on December 6 and 7. The decision taken there would be forwarded to the global body’s Chief Executives Committee (CEC) and subsequently to the Board in February.
As per the existing FTP, the Indian team has 36 Tests, 73 ODIs 18 T20 internationals on the roster between 2019-20 and 2022-23 – about 70 days of bilateral cricket per year. But there’s an imbalance between home and away fixtures, with India playing 15 home Tests and 21 away; 30 home ODIs and 43 away; and 6 home T20 internationals and 12 away.
By introducing the Test championship and a 13-team ODI league, the ICC aims at addressing the imbalance in the current FTPs and also put context to bilateral ties. The BCCI Special General Meeting (SGM) has the FTP as an item on the agenda but inexplicably the meeting will be held on December 11, three days after the ICC workshop, despite the fact that the CoA wanted to have it earlier.
Meanwhile, Rai said former Team India head coach Anil Kumble’s model was taken as a reference point with respect to a new compensation package for the players.
“We have worked more on it (Kumble’s model) with minor tweaking, which these people (team management) had to suggest. Now we have to look at the (BCCI) revenues that are through every year and then fit in the numbers. We will work on that for about a week and hopefully we will have it tied up before the team leaves for South Africa. We will announce the FTP and the compensation package both,” Rai told this paper, adding that during the meeting Kohli, Dhoni and Shastri stressed on giving a better compensation package to middle-level players who don’t have the commercial endorsements and particularly players like Cheteshwar Pujara, who are immense in Test cricket but get overlooked in the IPL. The match fee in domestic cricket is also set for an overhaul.
Kumble in his 19-page presentation to the CoA during the IPL final had proposed two categories – A and B – for annual retainers and asked for Rs 4 crore and Rs 3 crore respectively as annual retainer fee. For ODI and T20, he had suggested Rs 2.5 crore and Rs 1.5 crore for Grade A and Grade B respectively. He also added that there was a lack of clarity whether “IPL media rights are part of the media rights income”.
As per the present structure, the BCCI has three categories for annual retainers, wherein Grade A players get Rs 2 crore each per year, Grade B cricketers get Rs 1 crore each, while Rs 50 lakh each is given to Grade C players.