In a move seen as an attempt by the 'Big Three' of world cricket (India, England and Australia cricket boards) to counter the International Cricket Board's (ICC) plans to add an additional 50-overs world event to the next ICC Future Tours Programme, plans are afoot to organise an annual quadrangular limited-overs series involving India, England, Australia and another team, from 2021 onwards. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly had revealed plans for such a tournament last week. England and Wales Cricket board (ECB) confirmed the move on Monday.
"We meet regularly with other leaders from the major cricketing nations to share learnings and discuss topics that impact our sport. A four-nation tournament was raised at a meeting with the BCCI in December and we are open to discussions with other ICC members to see if this concept can develop," ECB said in a statement.
ICC had proposed to add another world event, apart from the T20 and 50-over World Cups, in its meetings held in October. This would mean its next eight-year cycle (2023 -2031) will have one ICC global event every year—two 50-over World Cups, four T20 World Cups and two 50-over tournaments. BCCI and ECB have opposed ICC's plans as they feel it would eat into their bilateral calendar, which holds significant commercial value.
"Australia, England, India, and another top team will feature in the Super Series, which begins in 2021, and the first edition of the tournament will be played in India," Ganguly had said in Kolkata.
Initially, ICC's move to introduce another tournament had received widespread approval. The ICC member boards had been promised they would receive extra revenue from ICC's rights cycle. However, those plans were made when BCCI was under the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators. Elected representatives took charge towards October end and opposed the plan.
Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, and treasurer Arun Dhumal held talks in London earlier this month with ECB officials, led by chairman Colin Graves. Plans to stage a four-nation 'Super Series' was explored in that meeting. The plan being made public could cause a flutter in ICC, whose chairman is former BCCI president Shashank Manohar. Current BCCI officials are unhappy with the Manohar-led ICC administration as it had annulled the controversial 'Big Three' revenue plan that was put in place under former BCCI president N Srinivasan in 2014, giving a large slice of the world body's revenues to the influential Indian, England and Australian boards.
To stage any tournament with more than three teams will need ICC clearance. "It will depend on what kind of time is available in our calendar, their (other boards') calendar. We will try and explore the possibility of the series. If it works in the interest of BCCI, we will go ahead," Dhumal told HT.
Dhumal said BCCI was looking to cement ties with other influential cricket boards again and "regain lost ground in ICC". He added: "ECB and BCCI had a very good chat. The idea was to interact because of the impasse that was there for three years, with no communication as such.
"BCCI being one of the most important cricketing boards in ICC, it was important to interact with our contemporaries and all the important boards. They also felt, with the situation prevailing in ICC, BCCI has not been given its due, and so is the case with ECB. These are the two most important boards. So, definitely there is some kind of resentment with the way things are happening in ICC," he added.
BCCI officials are also slated to have talks with senior Cricket Australia officials in January, on sidelines of the team's one-day series in India.