India vs Pakistan Test freeze not to be touched in planned ICC cricket league
The International Cricket Council’s new league structure for Tests and ODIs has given a compromise to the situation regarding India vs Pakistan Tests as cricket gets a new makeover.cricket Updated: Oct 14, 2017 16:32 IST
If one assumes the new league structure for Test and one-day cricket agreed at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board meeting on Friday will finally lead to the resumption of bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan, it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
For Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) officials Amitabh Choudhary, acting secretary, and Rahul Johri, the CEO, it was the biggest concern when they went for the ICC meeting in Auckland where restructuring of international cricket was the main agenda.
“We didn’t want to be docked points for not playing Pakistan, like the women’s team last season. Chaudhary and Johri had been asked to discuss at the meeting how it can be resolved,” a BCCI insider said.
INDO-PAK ISSUE TACKLED
For now, the ICC has addressed that issue by allowing the Boards to choose their opponents for the bilateral Test series – they only need to play six of the other eight teams. According to the arrangement worked out by ICC, India are not required to play Pakistan in the first two cycles of the Test league (2019 - 2021 and 2022 - 2024). If relations between the two countries improve, the two Boards can hold a bilateral series anytime, but it won’t be part of the Test league.
This arrangement is difficult to explain except that it is a compromise to address an issue that is beyond the BCCI’s control.
Nine teams will play six series over the new two-year Test league cycle – three each home and away. Each series will have a minimum of two Tests and a maximum of five.
But what happens if India and Pakistan finish as the top two teams in the league table? The top two contest a play-off final to decide the Test champions at Lord’s in June 2021. “India and Pakistan anyway play in ICC tournaments, all global events like the 50-over, World Twenty20 and the under-19 tournaments. The same arrangement will apply and they will play the final,” explained a source.
The ICC has also given the green light to a 13-team one-day international league, which will begin in 2020 and lead to direct qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
Like the arrangement in the Test league, the ICC has sorted the situation in the one-day league though each team is required to play all others or be docked points. The first World Cup under the new structure will be in 2023, and India being the hosts will earn an automatic berth. So, they will not be affected even if they are docked points.
For the ODI league, the ICC’s 12 full members and the winners of the current World Cricket League Championship will contest four home and four away series of three matches each.
“In principle all the Boards have agreed to the restructuring. The small details about the playing conditions and other details have to be worked out. It will be finalised by February,” a source told Hindustan Times.
Temporarily, the ICC has found a solution to the India versus Pakistan issue, but for their league championships to work they will need to come up with a structure that addresses the issue.