The Board of Control for Cricket in India have formed three groups on the basis of ‘performance and stature’ with the Future Tours Programme for home internationals for four seasons. © AFP

The Board of Control for Cricket in India have formed three groups on the basis of ‘performance and stature’ with the Future Tours Programme for home internationals for four seasons. © AFP

Unofficially ushering in the era of the Big Four, the Board of Control for Cricket in India have formed three groups on the basis of ‘performance and stature’ while coming up with the Future Tours Programme for home internationals for four seasons between 2019-20 and 2022-23.

While the BCCI have placed Australia, England and South Africa in Group A, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Windies and Bangladesh have been clubbed in Group B. Group C comprises Zimbabwe, and Ireland and Afghanistan, the two newest Test entrants. Predictably, there is no provision for India to host Pakistan in this 2019-2023 window.

A detailed schedule chalked out and presented at the Special General Meeting of the BCCI in New Delhi on Monday (December 11) entails 81 international games across formats at home in that four-year cycle, as against the proposed 85-match schedule presented to the members before the meeting. This includes 19 Tests, 35 One-Day Internationals and 27 Twenty20 Internationals. During that same period, India are scheduled to play 18 Tests, 29 ODIs and 26 T20Is overseas, all adding up to a total 154 matches. That translates to 302 days of international cricket at home and away during those four years in the event of each of the 37 Tests going to the fifth day.

With the broadcast rights coming up for bidding for a four-year period from April 2018, the BCCI have paid great attention to make sure that England, Australia and South Africa play as many games in India as possible. Consequently, India are to play 12 of 19 Tests, 18 of 35 ODIs and 12 of 27 T20Is at home against these three nations, which amounts to 42 of 81 matches and 51.85% of all games across formats against this trio.

The schedule will be placed by Amitabh Choudhary, the acting BCCI secretary, at the International Cricket Council’s quarterly conference in February next year.

The BCCI have identified the phase between October and December as the Primary Home Season and the one from January to March as the Secondary Home Season. As per the plan, India will host one team from Group A, two from Group B and one from Group C in the first two years (2019-20 and 2020-21), and one from Group A, one from Group B and two from Group C in the two subsequent years.

Additionally, the BCCI have proposed no international cricket in the rest of the world during the April-May Indian Premier League for all four years, with two of the three ICC events in the window to also be hosted by India – the Champions Trophy in 2021 and the World Cup in 2023.

Afghanistan’s Test debut in India, announced by Choudhary in New Delhi on Monday, is unlikely to take place this season. It is expected that India will host Afghanistan towards the end of 2018, before departing to Australia for a four-Test series.