More international cricket on the menu
Even as new franchise T20 competitions spring up during the monsoon – the South African and UAE variety will debut in January – the ICC’s new FTP will feature a greater number of international matches during the 2023-27 cycle. Out of 694 matches in the current FTP (2019-23), the 12 Full Members will play 777 international matches – 173 Tests, 281 ODIs and 323 T20Is – over the next four-year period. Not to mention the ICC tournaments, of which there is one every year (first since the 2011-2015 FTP). Expect the debate between land and franchise to get much louder.
More tests, but not everyone
More tests are planned in this new FTP – 21 more in fact – than between 2019-23. But digging a little deeper isn’t necessarily cause for optimism for those concerned about the health of Test cricket. Four of the nine countries participating in the World Test Championship (WTC) play fewer Tests (England plays six Tests less); if South Africa’s Test series with Australia had not been cancelled, they too would play less of the longest format in the new cycle. The big jump in the number of tests in the FTP is largely due to a large increase in the number of tests Afghanistan has to play (see below).
Who plays the most games in the new FTP? Not India or England, but Bangladesh. They will have as many as 150 bilateral caps over the next four-year cycle. Although there is increasing murmuring about the usefulness of ODIs, Bangladesh is giving the 50-over format the most love by playing 59 matches. They are also just behind the Big Three in the number of Tests (34).
Taking it easy in South Africa?
On the other side of the crowds, you have South Africa, which plays just 113 bilateral internationals in the new FTP. That’s more than just Ireland and Zimbabwe. South Africa’s schedule contains the second fewest T20Is (46), fewest ODIs (39) and fewer tests (28) than Bangladesh and New Zealand. In fact, in the 2023-25 World Test Championship cycle, South Africa will not play series longer than two Tests (and they are currently at the top of that table and potential finalists). One reason for this could be that Cricket South Africa wants to keep its international players completely free to play the new T20 League in January, and then there’s the two and a half month IPL period, which sees many of the top South African players. Africa African players will be in India.
Another feature of this FTP is the number of windows created for the T20 leagues of different countries. The largest is for the IPL. From mid-March to late May between 2023 and 2027, very little international cricket is scheduled to allow the top players from all countries – minus Pakistan – to participate in the IPL. Other countries have different types of windows for their competitions. Australia has tried to minimize white ball games in their traditional January slot so that their own elite players can play the BBL; Bangladesh has set aside every January for the BPL; the ECB has a small window for the Hundred in August; CSA does the same for their league; the PSL shifts its windows, but has one every year; the CPL has August-September.
The T20 revolution really took off when India embraced the shortest format with open arms after their victory in the 2007 T20 World Cup. So what does it mean for ODIs if 50-over cricket appears to be India’s least favored format in the new FTP? India will only play 42 ODIs in the 2023-27 FTP cycle, the second lowest of the 12 Full Members, and they will not play series longer than three ODIs.
More matches between the Big Three
India, England and Australia will also see each other more in the new FTP than in the current one. They had a total of 65 internationals – 27 Tests, 21 ODIs and 17 T20Is – scheduled between 2019 and 2023. Over the next four-year cycle, they will play a total of 78 matches: 30 Tests, 20 ODIs and 28 T20 internationals.
Test Revolution in Afghanistan
Since their test debut in India in 2018, Afghanistan has played just six games so far. They have 21 planned in this next cycle, one more than Zimbabwe and just four less than Sri Lanka. However, it remains to be seen how many of these 21 are actually played.