The Board of Cricket in India (BCCI) may have announced Rs 25 lakh as reward for each player for having helped the Test team reach the pinnacle in the ICC world rankings, but the board surely has not done enough to help India sustain its position.
MS Dhoni and his men will not be playing enough Tests to earn points for staying ahead of the pack. In fact, India will not be playing more than two Test matches till November next year. In December 2010, they are scheduled to tour South Africa, followed by a tour of West Indies in April, post the World Cup.
During this time, South Africa will play three Test series and Australia four.
Other than India, Sri Lanka are the only other team thoroughly deprived of Tests until they host West Indies in November next year. No wonder then, captain Kumar Sangakkara expresses his disappointment. “Two-tier Test matches were being discussed when we were the No.2 team in rankings. We were not even being discussed. Those kind of things are still going on.
“It is about money and how different countries can earn out of playing each other. It is always going to be a major factor for the ICC to deal with as well, unless of course only four countries play Test cricket,” he says.
If the captains’ representative in ICC has this to say, the future is bleak: “It doesn’t matter what the (captains’ representative’s) contribution is. He has to be listened to. If the concerned authorities don’t do anything, you can talk as much as you want but there will be no point,” Sangakkara says.
It is clear that certain cricket-playing nations have an advantage over others as far as preparing their touring charts in the FTP is concerned. Unfortunately, according to ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, even the world body seems to be helpless. “We establish a set of principles which we would like each member to follow. The principle may well be that you must play every Test playing nation, home or away,” he says. He added that ICC is looking to emphasise that none of the members should be worse off in the commercial sense.
That should explain India’s predicament, given the bulk of T20 and One-day matches they play as compared to Tests. Given the kind of crowd capacity that Indian stadiums draw for the shorter formats, it’s obvious why India aren’t playing Tests. For example, the T20 match scheduled to be held in Nagpur’s 45,000 capacity stadium on Wednesday was sold out completely a week ago. In comparison, the Test match at the same ground last year was played in front of near empty stands.
No wonder, the current world No.1 status is something the BCCI cannot sustain.