From the Times of India:
MUMBAI: The English keep the summer reserved every year to play their best cricket series at home. The Australians prefer to play the big-ticket series in their backyard during Christmas and New Year.
New Zealand players love to spend their winters at home and South Africans have kept their Boxing Day culture alive since readmission in 1992, except on five occasions when they toured Australia.
India, cricket's modern-day superpower, has no such window reserved for its players through the year. The country that is singlehandedly responsible for more than a quarter of the world cricket's revenues has never established a home season like the game's other big stakeholders. But that is soon going to change.
From 2015, the international world cricket calendar, from India's point of view, is set to undergo a major change. And the change, an initiative of the BCCI, will usher a revamped, new-look home season - one stretching from October to January.
The idea, say those in the know of this development, is to have a home calendar that revolves around India's large festive season that starts with Dusshera in October, followed by Diwali, Christmas, the New Year to Pongal and Lohri in January .
Australia play at home between November and January-end. They either tour in September and October or February and March. When it comes to a series in India, they prefer to play the Tests in September in October and the one dayers between February and March.
Tables are about to turn with India having decided to do the same starting this year. "Just like Australia prefers to play the Test series here in September and October and One-day series between February and March, India can do the same," said a high-ranked BCCI official.
In line with this planning, South Africa will tour India in October this year for a four-Test series followed by Pakistan and Sri Lanka coming on shorter tours. "By doing so, India will get to play at home during peak festival season. The idea is to have two home series every year from this year onwards. That is the direction we need to head towards," he added.
The board's outlook is clear that India needs to tour well too but at the same time, a balance needs to be maintained. "India can always tour England in July, August and September and Australia in February-March one year or West Indies one year, or South Africa, New Zealand.
"During these months, if the top 15 Indian players are touring, they don't get to play any domestic cricket. Facilities across India - around 20 potential Test venues - don't get used during the peak season. Spectators don't get enough of live action," adds the official.
"The idea is also to break international tours and make it less grueling for the cricketers," says the official.
The Indian board's concern also stems from a form of hypocrisy shown by other boards over touring patterns. "Why does England tour Australia and South Africa and play on Boxing Day but when they are in India, they have to break the tour and go back home for Christmas?" he says.
"In 1969-70, Australia did play a series in India during Christmas and New Year. So when did they start saying 'Boxing Day is ours'?" The board's clear view is that there are a substantial number of fans across the country, not to forget abroad, who want to watch India play.
"It's not like the MCG that hosts a Test match, a one-dayer and a Twenty20 all at the same venue in a span of 25 days. In India, from Ranchi and Delhi to Bangalore and Chennai, there are 20 Test venues and spectators willing to come and watch their national team play live. "In contrast, look at the ongoing Sydney Test. The attendance has been so poor. Boxing Day in South Africa or New Zealand is played to empty stands," the official points out.
The Indian board seems to have a vision of where it's heading with this idea. "Without taking anything away from anyone, what will help world cricket is a stronger India, a more balanced home and away touring system," says the official.
The ICC's Future Tours Program (FTP) has been more or less discussed on these lines and the whole process is already in motion. "You will start to see at least two home series from now on in India. That's something we've already set in motion," says the board official.
"Cricket Australia is apparently a board which is run so well. But they are the reason for these issues because they want an exclusive window. India can't be helping everybody on their revenue by touring at their convenience."
The documentation is the only thing pending over the visiting teams. India is now waiting for FTP agreements to be signed by various boards.