The Board of Control for Cricket in India has asked the England and Wales Cricket Board the possibility of starting the five-Test series earlier than planned to make space for the remainder of the now suspended Indian Premier League. The Times reported that India want to move the final Test, scheduled for September 10-14 in Manchester, so that they can have a longer window for the IPL.
As things stand, the five-Test series is set to start on August 4 and end on September 14. If ECB agree to BCCI’s request, the only possible window could be between July 20 (when Pakistan’s tour of England ends) and August 4 (when India’s Tests start). The Test series would then end on September 6, which would give BCCI three weeks to finish the remaining 31 matches of IPL 2021.
However, the first edition of The Hundred is set to start on July 22. ECB have planned for the key Test players to play the first week of the Hundred to give the tournament a boost. If the India Test series is rescheduled, that would not be possible.
The New Indian Express, meanwhile, reported that the BCCI has asked the ECB to cut down the final Test if they cannot start the series early. The BCCI has said it would compensate by playing more matches in 2022, when the team tours for a white ball series.
India arrive in England on June 2, and will play New Zealand in the ICC World Test Championship final from June 18 to 22 in Southampton. After that, they do not have any international games in England till August, which gives them a six week window.
ECB will take into consideration logistical challenges before taking a decision, given ticket sales for the matches have already started.
There is no clarity on where the rescheduled IPL, if it happens, will take place. While the UAE hosted the IPL in 2020, the United Kingdom could be BCCI’s top choice for the rescheduled tournament this year. The English counties have expressed interest in hosting the tournament.
The IPL was suspended because of rising COVID-19 cases within the bio bubbles. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly then said that the rest of the tournament cannot happen in India.