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Just say NO!

by Homer

In its quest to maintain India's No.1 Test ranking the BCCI has sent a proposal to Cricket Australia to convert the seven-match ODI series in October to two Tests and three ODIs. India had climbed to the top spot in 2009, after drubbing Sri Lanka 2-0 at home, and then retained the ranking by fighting back to level the two-Test series against South Africa in February.

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Upon reading this, I had an "I Told You So" moment. And yet, there was a certain inevitability to this. Ever since the Test Match Nazis started carping from the sidelines that the BCCI is not interested in Test cricket, pointing to the 2009-10 season to emphasize their point, it was only a matter of time before the BCCI caved in.

First it was South Africa and the two test series. Now it is Australia.

Without dwelling too much into why a Two Test series is no series at all, I would like to take this opportunity to point out, once again, India's schedule starting December 2010 - 24 Tests between Dec 2010 and Mar 2012. 15 months 24 Tests and if that does not indicate that India is a serious Test playing nation, held hostage to the vagaries of the ICC FTP, then nothing else will.

Now, coming to the Australia series and why it is imperative for India to "kindly withdraw" its rather generous offer.

For starters, it is a two match series.

Secondly, what purpose does it serve India playing the third rank nation in the world in a 2 Test series? Its not going to make a huge difference to the points table unless we sweep, and there is always the danger that we might slip if we either draw or lose the series. Its not like playing Australia in a 2 Test series in India will have a huge bearing on our away tours to South Africa, England or Australia. In fact, the Champions League in South Africa will have a greater bearing on our Test performances there. So, other than keeping the Nazis at bay, how does an hastily announced Test series help us?

As far as Australia go, their itinerary over the next 6 months looks like this

5 ODIs versus England in England
2 Tests and 2 T20 versus Pakistan in England
7 ODIs versus India
3 ODIs and 1 T20 versus Sri Lanka
The Ashes

So, in the lead up to the Ashes, Australia have very little by way of competitive Test cricket. And if the 2 Test seres against Pakistan is discounted, Australia have no Test cricket under their belt since February 2010, when they played New Zealand away.

India offers them a trifecta

1. Playing the #1 Test nation in the world in their back yard and the hard fought cricket that guarantees.
2. The opportunity to move up the ICC rankings
3.The sham of a 2 test series and the deniability it brings

Win or lose in India, Australia stand to win. If they lose the series, "it was an away series", "it was against the #1 team in the world", "the pitches were doctored" and "A two test series proves nothing", "a hastily ordered series" and "The Ashes are the real deal". If they win , the confidence boost in the lead up to the Ashes coupled with a change in the rankings coupled with the bragging rights.

And in both cases, a good, intense workout in the lead up to the Ashes. Which is basically what the Australians need, more than anything else.

And there are additional benefits, as enunciated by Malcolm Conn

"Firstly, they will need to be played on pitches with reasonable pace and bounce because slow, low, turning pitches could prove counter-productive.
And the BCCI would need to wipe out the seven one-day matches Australia owes it even if the number was reduced to fit in two Tests."

Add to it the debt the BCCI will owe the CA for "acquiescing to their request" for a 2 test series.

So, for now, JUST SAY NO!

23 comments:

Mahek said...

Having just two tests is indeed a bit of a buzzkill, more so if it will be a contest for the Border-Gavaskar trophy. They should have either done a 3-test series or a 3 ODI, 2 T20 series. By the look of it CA will agree to the current proposal as it's the best practice they can get ahead of the Ashes. Conn can talk about the pitches as much as he wants, I thought it was well-established that he is an Australian propaganda machine. There is no substituting a contest against quality opposition. Hopefully the pitches will be dustbowls.

I wonder what makes you think the BCCI is bowing to the Nazis though. Or is it speculation, in which case you're following in the footsteps of the people you passionately criticise.

Homer said...

Mahek,

When did the imperative to have "more Test Cricket" come from?

Who were the prime movers behind it?

And when was the last time the BCCI unilaterally decided to host more Tests in lieu of ODIs and in contravention of the ICC FTP?

Our FTP was set in stone since 2006.Everyone knew the score.. So what explains the carping? And what explains the BCCI's actions post the carping?

Cheers,

Mahek said...

The FTP only specifies the minimum number of games each country has to play. The BCCI has been scheduling series at random all this time. And there have been calls from senior Indian cricketers for more tests. There was a report in the papers here a couple of months ago about Tendulkar wanting to play tests against Australia this year.Wonder why he's not termed a Nazi.

Homer said...

Mahek,

Two points

1. "FTP only specifies the minimum number of games each country has to play" - had this proposed series been played over and above the current FTP, thats a whole another discussion. This proposed series is being played in lieu of what is listed in the FTP. Spot the difference?

2. A Google search of the "There was a report in the papers here a couple of months ago about Tendulkar wanting to play tests against Australia this year" yielded nohing. Can you kindly post the link?

Cheers,

Naked Cricket said...

Brilliant argument

Naked Cricket said...

Btw if it's 2 tests, will they play for the Border Gavaskar trophy or the coveted TMK

Homer said...

NC,

Hopefully the TMK Cup!


Cheers :),

Mahek said...

That series is in the FTP as one mutually agreed upon by the two boards. It's not one mandated by the ICC, as the guideline for minimum games is playing every country home and away once over the FTP cycle. There were series like the tri-series in Sri Lanka last year which were scheduled on an ad-hoc basis. Then there was the one in Sri Lanka early last year in order to make up for India not touring Pakistan.

I looked for the article and couldn't come across one either. The closest I came to it was this

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/top-stories/BCCI-wants-Australia-to-play-two-Tests-in-India/articleshow/5594741.cms

Either I must have read it elsewhere or I misread it on TOI. Either way, the evidence for BCCI scheduling more tests because it is giving in to what other nations feel is just as emphatic as that for the many accusations you vehemently oppose. Also, I would like to see where the ICC has made a statement about India not playing enough tests.

Mahek said...

And why exactly are we playing a test series against Sri Lanka again? It's not part of the FTP, is it?

Homer said...

Mahek,

1. "It's not one mandated by the ICC, as the guideline for minimum games is playing every country home and away once over the FTP cycle" - Kindly explain to me this document - http://static.cricinfo.com/db/DOWNLOAD/0000/0045/ftp_2006_2012.pdf

2. From the article you linked to, this - "Buoyed by India's continuance at the top of the Test rankings perch,and chastened by widespread criticism last year over a lopsided schedule which saw the longer format pushed to the periphery, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) is now rooting for more Test cricket for the national team. " - test Match Nazis!

3. Firstly, the SL series is outside of the FTP. Existing schedules are not being tweaked nor are existing bilateral games being interchanged for a different format. That said, have I endorsed the SL series anywhere?

Or are you trying to state that since I did not call out the SL series and did the Oz series, I tacitly endorse one and not the other?

Cheers,

Rishabh said...

I'd rather have the tests than a seven-match ODI series. Just saying.

Mahek said...

Again, the highlighted part is merely speculation from cricinfo. They missed the part about CSA not wanting to play tests in 2010 since they were more concerned about their home series against England.

The point I'm making is you could make your case a lot stronger by presenting the entire picture. Clearly the Australia series is just part of the puzzle, such series has been commonplace as far as the BCCI is concerned for a while now.

Australia have already played India home and away in both forms during this FTP. While the additional series are mentioned in the FTP, it is so because the boards mutually agreed to them. They've been slotted into the FTP as the agreement was reached before the schedule was drawn up.

Dingo said...

Hi, from an Australian perspective i can't agree more. what's the point of us playing a test series against Pakistan in England. forget the rankings system - this is just a joke. If the Australians are serious about reclaiming the Ashes then they would've pushed for a series against India for example. And if the ICC is serious abouttest cricket (which I don't think they are) then they also would have promoted an Aus/Ind series. the ICC has all of a sudden got this massive cash cow in T20 and they clearly arent managing it correctly. The bigger picture is to maintain the sanctity of the game - come on ICC

dingo said...

b-roll me
peace!
behindsquare.wordpress.com/

Jonathan said...

Homer, I mainly agree, but the business about contravention of the FTP is a red herring. The FTP is simply a collection of the agreed series, which has been modified a million times, not set in stone.

The Ind-Aus 7 ODIs is over and above the minimum requirements for the FTP - there is no need to have it at all, from an ICC point of view. (They are marked 'Additional' in the FTP documents.)

In contrast, the Ind-SA series was originally 5 ODIs and 3 Tests, not 5 ODIs as usually reported. The Tests were marked as 'to be rescheduled' at the coming of the IPL, to give it an Indian window. Arguably, they don't and didn't need to be rescheduled, as India had already played an 'Additional' home series with SA in 2007, but a Test series in Feb/March was inline with the FTP, not in contravention of it!

As for the series itself, I'm not sure which is worse 7 ODIs or only 2 Tests. I don't see reason to change it, although if they swapped the whole thing for 3 Tests, I wouldn't complain!

Homer said...

Mahek,

I am looking at this from an Indian stand point. And from that vantage, I see that the cost accrued exceeds the benefits manifold.

Coming to the FTP itself,when was the last time the BCCI unilaterally made the move to replace a bilateral series in an existing format to another in a different format? Series have been canceled, new series have been chalked up, but never had I seen the BCCI replace an ODi series with a Test series before the South Africa tour.

And that line of thinking is rather stupid, imho as it does nothing to further our cause..

Its a lose lose situation for India.

Cheers,

Homer said...

Thanks for your comments Dingo. And I agree... Australia's preparation leading into the Ashes leaves a lot to be desired. Contrast and compare with England who will be playing 8 Tests this summer and will have a 3 week lead in into the first Test.

As far as the ICC is concerned, I think it is an institution, institution being the operative word.

Cheers,

Homer said...

Jonathan,

Previous series have been dropped altogether ( India's tur to Zimbabwe) or rescheduled or new series have been agreed upon outside of the existing FTP.

The Australia series would be the second instance where India have gone back on an agreed upon ODI series to replace it with Tests. And in both cases, the whole exercise is self defeating.

As regards the SA series being a 5 ODI 3 Test set, I was unaware of that, working as I was on the assumption that the 2007 home series covered the Test match aspect of the set.

Cheers,

straight point said...

we are seeing the extreme pendulum of both sides... bcci doing wrong on both part... first agreeing to series like 7odi series irrespective of reasons which are subjective... then this sudden change...

the better path would be to honour the agreed series and look to accommodate more tests in upcoming FTP... (which they seems to have done)

they want to look doing right things rather than doing the right things...

i agree its a lose lose situation for india...

Mahek said...

Dingo

Australia are playing Pakistan in an "away" series because they haven't done that since 2002. I think it's important to look at it from Pakistan's perspective as well, considering they hardly get to play test cricket.

Also, the last test series looked well poised before Pakistan's collapse in Sydney so I wouldn't undermine them especially in English conditions. Besides, it's not like June-August is ideal time for cricket in India anyway.

Mahek said...

Homer

From an Indian perspective, I'd like every shot at playing Australia. They can put whatever spin they want depending on the series result, but atleast there should be some quality cricket. The rankings don't mean anything to me. I'd happily trade in the number one spot for series wins in South Africa and Australia. It's a different matter that we'd probably go number one if we win those series, which just goes to show how ridiculous it is for BCCI to schedule more tests allegedly to allow India to hold on to its number one position.

Mahek said...

There's been too much obsession with the number one spot already. It's all everyone talked about on TV during the South Africa series, as if the series result didn't matter at all. What they didn't realise was the spot would be ours if we just focused on winning every test.

We all know how many tests we're playing in the next 21 months. Why couldn't the BCCI just issue a press release stating the same and citing that as a reason to not schedule ad-hoc series?

Jonathan said...

Homer, BCCI might be unilaterally making this suggestion, but CA needs to agree. There are many reasons for both to reject the idea, but the idea that the ODI series is fixed by some ICC diktat, rather than just a previous agreement between the two, is not one of them. This is one area where the role (and nature) of the ICC is often overstated.