The first-ever Future Tours Programme featuring a World Test Championship and a ODI Qualification League has been released by the ICC’s Full Members, and will span a five-year period from 2018 to 2023. The nine top-ranked Test nations will slug it out for the Test Championship over two two-year cycles starting in June 2019, with a six-series league phase followed by a final featuring the top two sides. The ODI league will begin in 2020 and feature the twelve Test-playing nations and Netherlands, the 13th ranked side which qualified from the World Cricket League Championship. The top eight sides from this league will qualify automatically for the 2023 World Cup.
Not all matches will count towards the Test Championship and the ODI League, and teams will play bilateral series whose outcomes will not affect these competitions. So, who will play whom? And when, and where? Here’s the complete schedule for each nation.
Australia’s inaugural World Test Championship hopes could hinge on a trip to South Africa in 2021, a tour with added context considering the recent ball-tampering saga. Nearly two-thirds of their Tests over the next five-year cycle will come against India, England or South Africa, a period in which they will host Afghanistan for the first time in a one-off Test in 2020 and play New Zealand in a Boxing Day Test at the MCG for the first time since 1987. Both the World T20 years – 2020 and 2021 – see a significant increase in the number of T20 internationals, with as many as 24 scheduled over the two-year period.
India are the only side outside the Ashes rivalry to feature in five-Test series in the next FTP cycle, playing England twice over the next four years. In this cycle, they will contest a total of 102 internationals at home, with every Test-playing nation except Ireland and Pakistan touring India before May 2023. In all, they will play over 200 internationals, the most by an international side over this five-year cycle.
New Zealand will start their Test Championship campaign in Sri Lanka in August 2019, followed by a bumper 2019-20 home summer featuring England, Australia and India. A Boxing Day Test at Melbourne after 32 years is among the other highlights in a five-year cycle during which they will play only five three-Test series and eleven two-Test series. They will also host Netherlands for a bilateral three-ODI series at home for the first time in 2021-22.
South Africa’s Test Championship starts with a high-profile season in which they will play Tests in India, host England for a full tour and Australia for white-ball matches. The England series is the only four-Test engagement on the FTP. In total, South Africa play 31 Tests, split as 16 at home and 15 away, including includes three-Test series against India and Australia. The summer of 2022-23 should see South Africa play their first festive season tour in Australia since 2008-09, which could bring a return to the MCG and SCG. The other Test tours are two-Test encounters against Sri Lanka and West Indies at home and Pakistan and New Zealand away. South Africa will play 45 ODIs and T20s each, including a home ODI series against Netherlands and away in Ireland but do not have any fixtures scheduled against Zimbabwe or Afghanistan. All their T20 series are three matches each.
A feature of Sri Lanka’s schedule, at present, is that there is a dearth of home Tests. There is only one home Test series – against Bangladesh – in the two years between July 2020, and June 2022. It is possible that SLC will organise tours to fill these gaps closer to the time, as they have done in the past. The busiest season for Sri Lanka appears to be 2019-2020, in which they play bilateral series against nine international sides, including Tests against five of them.
More to follow…