Pakistan set to play more cricket in upcoming years after changes to Future Tours Programme

Pakistan have made some major improvements to their schedule in coming years, adding a number of extra games to their Future Tours Programme (FTP).

What’s happened?

Added to their schedule between 2019 and 2023 are 17 extra international games. These are broken down into two extra Test Matches, five more One Day International’s, and ten more Twenty20 International’s.

Previously, they had just 104 international matches scheduled during this period, significantly below other major teams. Australia have 123 matches in the same time period, Bangladesh have 124, and South Africa have 122. With these extra 17 scheduled games, Pakistan are now up to 121, on par with their opponents.

Just who these games will be played against, though, is at this point yet to be confirmed. The Pakistan Cricket Board has emphasised a desire to play as much cricket against high quality opponents as possible.

The PCB has created a ranking system which classifies opponents into categories. These categories are based on the amount of revenue the teams will be able to provide to cricket in Pakistan, primarily through the means of broadcast deals.

Clearly, better quality opponents with higher profiles are more likely to draw interest from supporters, enabling the PCB to demand more money in a broadcast deal. Countries such as Australia, South Africa and England are classified as high-value opponents, meaning they will be able to bring in the best broadcast deals. A number of teams are rated as mid-value, including New Zealand and the West Indies, while Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe amongst others are rated as low-value.

The PCB has outlined a wish to play 46% of their home games between 2019 and 2023 against high-value teams, and 30% against mid-value teams. This will give them the ability to demand a quality broadcast deal, ultimately bringing more money in to Pakistan Cricket.

Why did this happen?

The move to give Pakistan more cricket came after the PCB expressed displeasure at the previously proposed FTP schedule. The 28 Tests they were allotted in that proposal was significantly lower than other Full Test Playing Nations, such as England (46 Tests), Australia (40), India (37), and even Bangladesh (35).

Surprisingly, their ODI schedule was even more sparse. The 38 games they were given was the lowest of every team, including relative minnows. Afghanistan were give 41 ODI’s in the proposal, Ireland 42, and Zimbabwe 40, while major teams such as India and the West Indies had over 60 scheduled.

The T20I schedule told a similar story, with Pakistan’s 38 scheduled matches in this format 23 less than India, 17 less than the West Indies, and six less than even Ireland.

Understandably, the PCB was not happy with this schedule, which would undoubtedly have major ramifications on their ability to generate revenue akin to their opponents.

Nejam Sethi, PCB chairman, made some scathing comments about the ICC in the wake of the FTP proposal, claiming ‘it doesn’t have a proper structure of management nor do they have the required knowledge’. He stated that it was ‘shameful’ that despite ‘topping the rankings charts in various formats in 2017 and winning the Champions Trophy’, Pakistan have been given ‘fewer matches than associate nations’.

Clearly, his comments made an impact, as barely a week later the proposal was updated to give Pakistan a much more significant share of the pie. They still play a lot less Tests than the busiest nations, as well as less ODI’s and T20’s, but the updated proposal is a significant improvement on what they had previously received.

The news will undoubtedly please cricket fans in Pakistan, who are already suffering from a lack of live cricket since a majority of their home games began being played in the UAE amid security fears. Hopefully, the new proposal becomes a reality, and one of cricket's oldest nation gets what it deserves.

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