The West Indies Cricket Board has agreed to tour India in November for a series that falls outside the International Cricket Council’s Future Tours Programme and which has caused considerable concern in South Africa.
In a release late last night the WICB stated: “The West Indies Cricket Board confirmed that the West Indies team will tour India in November. The tour will include a two Test series and three one-day internationals. The WICB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India agreed to utilise the mutually available window in November for the tour.”
The dates and venues of the matches are yet to be announced but the Tests are expected to be played in Mumbai and Kolkata, with Indian icon Sachin Tendulkar’s hometown Mumbai hosting his 200th, an unprecedented number of Tests in a career – with 198, Tendulkar is already 30 matches ahead of the No. 2s, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh. Reportedly, though, Kolkata has requested it host the landmark Test.
But the series is not going down well in South Africa whose much-anticipated home series against the Indians will have to be trimmed and will result in considerable revenue loss. India’s South Africa tour was due to begin with a tour game on November 18, but if India are to fit in five matches against West Indies after the Australia ODIs that end on November 2, it is unlikely that the matches in South Africa could begin before November 30.
That tour was originally scheduled to include two T20s, seven ODIs and three Tests, ending on January 19. Now, though, apart from beginning later, it will also have to finish earlier as the itinerary for India’s tour of New Zealand begins with an ODI on January 19.
West Indies last toured India in November-December 2011. Back then, they lost a three-match Test series 2-0 – the drawn third match was the dramatic Mumbai Test that ended with the scores level – and five-match ODI series 4-1. The teams last met when India travelled to the Caribbean in June this year for an ODI tri-series also involving Sri Lanka, which India won. Following the India tour, West Indies have a full tour of New Zealand scheduled. They will play three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s in New Zealand, between December 3 and January 15.
There have been no updates on the South Africa series yet, although BCCI president N Srinivasan earlier dismissed speculations of the tour being scrapped.
“I’ve not said that the South Africa series will be scrapped. It’s definitely on. We have just proposed a West Indies series in November. Neither there was any discussions on the South Africa series nor any members raised any questions on the series,” Srinivasan said earlier in the week.
There has been no immediate reaction from Cricket South Africa regarding the developments.
“We’ve not had any communication from the BCCI about our tour or the West Indies series. Till we speak to the BCCI officials, we will refrain from commenting on this,” Haroon Lorgat, CSA chief told the Indian media last night.
If South Africa agree to the reduced series, the next bone of contention would be the Boxing Day Test. South Africa had reintroduced the traditional Test while announcing the itinerary for India’s tour in July. However, the BCCI may demand that the Tests be played before limited-overs’ games, thus taking a Boxing Day Test out of equation.
Despite the supposed lack of discussion on the subject, it is understood that negotiations between the BCCI and CSA have been on for quite a while, and the BCCI is on the verge of giving the South African board a revised schedule cutting down what was originally scheduled to be a three-Test, seven-ODI and two-Twenty20 tour to two Tests, three ODIs and two T20s. The BCCI had already objected to the itinerary released in July, saying Cricket South Africa had announced the schedule without the Indian board’s consent.
“Our priority is to look after the interests of our players and the board,” a BCCI official said. “And such a long tour wasn’t viable from either perspective. We need to space out tours so that cricketers get much-needed breaks between them.”
While the BCCI has expressed concerns about “much-needed breaks” for the Indian players, the additional series for West Indies will mean that the senior team would have been playing virtually non-stop cricket since February.
Lorgat has so far made no plans to visit India and has not even been willing to acknowledge the obvious signs that the South African series will be affected. The South African Board’s only statement was that they would not respond to speculation and that they had not heard from the BCCI about revisions to the existing itinerary.
If India’s tour to South Africa is shortened to accommodate the West Indies visit in November the Proteas stand to lose out on R175 million in revenue. (WG/cricinfo)