Confirming the chatter about the IPL being an 84- or even a 94-match competition in the near future, Shah said in an interview to PTI, “That is an aspect we have worked upon. Let me inform you that from the next ICC FTP calendar, IPL will have an official two-and-a-half month window so that all the top international cricketers can participate. We have had discussions with various boards as well as the ICC.”
The current ICC FTP, running from 2018 to 2023, ends with the men’s 50-over World Cup, to be played in India in October-November 2023. It was earlier meant to be played in the first half of the year but had to be deferred to accommodate the many bilateral series and tournaments pushed back because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo during IPL 2022, various options are on the table for the BCCI when it comes to expanding the length – and therefore value – of the IPL, including organising it in two phases every year.
“We are having discussions with various stake-holders,” Shah said. “There are also multiple proposals for all the IPL franchises of playing friendlies overseas. That idea is being seriously contemplated but for that we also need to speak to other boards as we would need to know the schedule of international players.”
“In future, you will have a scenario, where the Indian Test team will be playing a series in one country and the white-ball team will be engaged in a series in a different country”
The biggest concern, if the IPL were to take more days every year, is how the international calendar, which is already packed, will be affected. Shah stressed that the BCCI remained “committed” to international cricket.
“Indian cricket will remain strong as long as world cricket remains strong – let me assure you of this,” he said. “The BCCI is committed to international cricket. And it’s not just about India versus Australia or India versus England marquee series, we are committed to playing even the smaller nations.
“All bilateral international commitments across all formats will be honoured. We are playing Ireland in two T20 Internationals this month only. We want a strong robust international circuit and want to help the smaller cricketing nations by playing against them.”
That could, potentially, mean a tremendous workload for India’s premier cricketers, especially the ones that play all formats. The BCCI is trying to figure out a way around the problem, according to Shah, but it could well mean more than one Indian team being engaged in bilateral exchanges at the same time in different parts of the world.
“I have had discussions with NCA [National Cricket Academy] head VVS Laxman and we will always have 50 players in our roster,” Shah said. “In future, you will have a scenario, where the Indian Test team will be playing a series in one country and the white-ball team will be engaged in a series in a different country.
“We are going in that direction where we will have two national teams ready at the same time.”