Following the footsteps of other major cricket playing countries like England, Australia and New Zealand, India also reserved time for home season. From 2015, the international world cricket calendar, from India’s point of view, is set to undergo a major change. And the change, an initiative of the BCCI, will usher a revamped, new-look home season – one stretching from October to January.
The idea, say those in the know, is to have a home calendar that revolves around India’s large festive season that starts with Dushera in October, followed by Diwali, Christmas, the New Year to Pongal and Lohri in January. Australia play at home between November and January-end. They either tour in September and October or February and March. When it comes to a series in India, they prefer to play the Tests in September or October and the Onedayers between February and March.
Tables are about to turn with India having decided to do the same starting this year. “Just like Australia prefers to play the Test series here in September and October and One-day series between February and March, India can do the same,” said a high-ranked BCCI official.
In line with this planning, South Africa will tour India in October this year for a four-Test series followed by Pakistan and Sri Lanka coming on shorter tours. “By doing so, India will get to play at home during peak festival season. The idea is to have two home series every year from this year onwards. That is the direction we need to head towards,” he added.
The board’s outlook is clear that India needs to tour well too but at the same time, a balance needs to be maintained. “India can always tour England in July, August and September and Australia in February-March one year or West Indies another year, or South Africa, New Zealand.
“During these months, if the top 15 Indian players are touring, they don’t get to play any domestic cricket. Facilities across India – around 20 potential Test venues – don’t get used during the peak season. Spectators don’t get enough of live action,” adds the official.
“The idea is also to break international tours and make it less grueling for the cricketers,” says the official. The Indian board’s concern also stems from a form of hypocrisy shown by other boards over touring patterns. “Why does England tour Australia and South Africa and play on Boxing Day but when they are in India, they have to break the tour and go back home for Christmas?” he says. “In 1969-70, Australia did play a series in India during Christmas and New Year. So when did they start saying ‘Boxing Day is ours’?” The board’s clear view is that there are a substantial number of fans across the country, not to forget abroad, who want to watch India play. “It’s not like the MCG that hosts a Test match, a One-dayer and a Twenty20 all at the same venue in a span of 25 days. In India, from Ranchi and Delhi to Bangalore and Chennai, there are 20 Test venues and spectators willing to come and watch their national team play live.
The Indian board seems to have a vision of where it’s heading with this idea. “Without taking anything away from anyone, what will help world cricket is a stronger India, a more balanced home and away touring system,” says the official. The ICC’s Future Tours Program (FTP) has been more or less discussed on these lines and the whole process is already in motion. “You will start to see at least two home series from now on in India. That’s something we’ve already set in motion,” says the board official.