T20 leagues threaten new international schedule

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Mushrooming domestic T20 leagues are becoming obstacles as cricket administrators try and find a way to make Test and ODI leagues work in a new international calendar. And more than just a logistical issue, the problem seems to cut right to the heart of wider debates about the relevance of the international game.
One of the proposals to resolve the conflict, suggested by ICC general manager of cricket Geoff Allardice, is to schedule fewer Test matches.
Chief executives of Full Member boards met this week in Dubai to discuss a Future Tours Programme (FTP) model they produced in March, but which is already looking unviable. The proposed FTP is the result of a scheduling summit that built on plans to introduce a 12-team Test league played over two years, and a 13-team ODI league played over three. Those plans were approved at ICC meetings in February.    
But ICC management has identified a number of issues with the calendar and has told Members that, as it stands, the schedule means the new structures will not be approved by the ICC Board.  
“In summary, the schedule developed by members is too congested, and the competition models that CEC [chief executives committee] identified in February cannot be recommended to the ICC Board for approval if they are to be accompanied by this schedule,” Allardice wrote in an assessment of the schedules seen by ESPNcricinfo.
“The schedule will need to be substantially revised by members if these Test and ODI competitions are to be introduced.”  
As an indication of the scale of the problems apparent in this FTP, Allardice identifies “overlapping of tours” where some teams are listed as being in two places at once; there being “insufficient time” allocated for some series; series being scheduled “out of season”; and wrong formats being played in preparation for ICC events.  
Allardice also pointed to other issues, including the fact that there was no reduction in the amount of Test cricket – which was one of the central aims of the process of giving greater context to international cricket and of providing more meaning to each Test, rather than just more Tests.
The thorniest point, however, is about T20 leagues, and new ones such as the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and South Africa’s T20 league, set to launch later this year, and their growth ambitions.
The ICC treads carefully around what is effectively an internal members’ issue but it does put in clear perspective the dilemma facing cricket: how to balance the need for a money-spinning T20 league with that of the demands of international cricket.
These issues gained sharp focus during a teleconference held last week between the cricket boards of Australia, England, Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand, to forge a way out of the schedule jam.
Instead, it prompted boards into a mild tit-for-tat over the windows afforded to various T20 leagues. In particular the new South Africa T20 league, announced just as talks to create new international structures were gaining momentum and scheduled for end of the year, had irked some boards.
Having acknowledged that these were serious issues the members then agreed to move discussions to Dubai.
Allardice ended by suggesting three remedies for this impasse: schedule less Test cricket, allocate more time in the calendar to international cricket or play fewer series in the Test and ODI competitions.  (www.espncricinfo.com)

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