The PCB outlined its issues in a letter to the ICC earlier this month; it proposed that the ICC CEO head the working group and prepare a report in three months. One of the PCB’s primary concerns is that Pakistan loses the opportunity to play international cricket during an extended window earmarked for the IPL.
The IPL has had an unofficial two-month window in the calendar for several years, but in the ICC’s next Future Tours Programme (FTP) from May 2023 to April 2027, a draft of which has been obtained by ESPNcricinfo, the window for the IPL has been extended to two and a half months – from late March to early June. In addition, the ECB and CA have also carved out windows for the Hundred and the BBL in their respective schedules, during which England and Australia will not play international cricket.
With several other boards, including the PCB, striving to make space for their own leagues, the draft FTP broadly affirmed the growing primacy of franchise T20 cricket in the international calendar.
“One particular agenda Pakistan will have during the [ICC AGM] meeting is the domestic T20 leagues,” PCB CEO Faisal Hasnain said. “We are a little concerned that the proliferation of domestic leagues around the world is sucking time out of the international calendar. There are new leagues that are evolving in two to three months… We want this to be discussed, and form a proper strategy.”
Hasnain confirmed that the PCB had written to the ICC expressing its concerns, and it is understood that the ICC has added the issue to the agenda for the AGM in July. The PCB also claimed that two other boards also had similar concerns. In its letter, the PCB stated that it was the role of the ICC to ensure fairness and equal opportunity for its members.
The IPL window is of particular concern for the PCB because its players have not been part of the world’s biggest T20 league since 2008, and though India and Pakistan play each other at ICC and ACC events, they have also not contested a bilateral series since 2012-13 because of strained political relations between the two countries.
An extended IPL window in the next FTP would mean that Pakistan will not be able to play top-flight teams during that period, while the other boards get compensated to an extent by receiving a percentage of their players’ IPL salaries. The PCB urged the ICC to come up with a model that helps boards make up the loss in revenue incurred because of a window that is reserved for T20 leagues during the peak season.
Since 2016, the Pakistan board has organised its franchise T20 league – the PSL – during its home season between February and March, but there is no window for the tournament in the international calendar. And with the planned increase in the number of PSL teams from 2026, it will be a challenge for the PCB to find space to accommodate its league and bilateral cricket in a packed calendar.
According to Hasnain, the draft for the next FTP cycle is 80% complete. A number of tours that are yet to be confirmed could be finalised by the ICC’s AGM on July 25 and 26 in Birmingham, England.