BCCI’s possible move to shorten the South African tour and its implications

Sachin Tendulkar in action during India’s last tour of South Africa in 2010-11. If the upcoming tour is cut short and the West Indies series is organised, the Little Master will have an opportunity to play his 200th Test in front of the home crowd © Getty Images

Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) decision to schedule a home series against the West Indies in November and possibly shorten India’s South African visit has certain implications. Nishad Pai Vaidya explains.
Why is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) trying to shorten the itinerary of the tour to South Africa? The proposed schedule by Cricket South Africa (CSA) contains three Tests, seven One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and two T20s. However, India may only end up playing two Tests, three ODIs and two T20s as they have tried to enlist a short series against the West Indies at home in November and then move to New Zealand in January 2014 — leaving a very short window for the African safari. What is the real reason behind this?

Most people are speculating that the BCCI’s decision has a lot to do with Haroon Lorgat’s appointment as the chief executive of the CSA. Lorgat and the BCCI have had an acrimonious relationship, so much so that the Indian board were protesting his appointment at CSA. Of course, the BCCI have no right to interfere in the internal matters of any other board, but after all money talks. There were rumours that they wanted to reduce the tour as a protest.
If indeed the BCCI have taken this move in view of Lorgat’s appointment, they are treading a very dangerous path — where they would continue to lose friends in the cricket world. In the recent past, the BCCI has put its foot down on many matters and have rubbed a few boards the wrong way. They did have a few allies, but if they continue to boss over, they do risk losing them as well.
However, the BCCI have possibly tried to schedule this short home series against the West Indies for revenues. The lack of home series means that they aren’t making enough money through international cricket. Australia would arrive in India for a limited-overs series after the Champions League T20 2013. After that, it was supposed to be a long road for India away from home. As things stand, India are to visit New Zealand in January 2014 and then England in July. According to the Future Tours Programme (FTP), India’s next home series is scheduled for October 2014 — which is also a West Indian visit.
Any board has a right to consolidate its financial position. However, it may be hard to believe the BCCI’s financial argument as India are hosting the CLT20 2013 and an IPL would also be played next year. Then, there is the Sachin Tendulkar angle. Playing the historic 200th Test in front of home fans — possibly at the Wankhede Stadium — would be a momentous occasion for all. Many felt the series against Australia early this year was his last at home, but there is a possibility he might play one final time. The board also gets to cash in on the occasion as there would be a celebratory buzz around Tendulkar’s milestone.
However, South Africa also gets robbed off a proper Indian visit —that can potentially earn them quite a lot. This tour was eagerly anticipated as India’s young brigade were gearing up for its first big test away from home. As Sourav Ganguly pointed out, this was also an opportunity for the youngsters to perform. It would have been a tough battle, but something that would strengthen them and make them better players for the future. Not sure if that is possible with a two-match Test series.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)