Having failed to get a Cricket Australia go-ahead on the participation of its players for the women's T20 exhibition series in India next month, the BCCI has gone ahead and announced the squads for the four-match event to be played in Jaipur. The reason for Australia's refusal to commit one way or another, ESPNcricinfo understands, is the continued lack of clarity on the schedule of the men's ODI tour of India early next year.
On April 4, the BCCI sent an email to CA to check whether some of the top Australian players - Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy - would be available to play in the exhibition matches just like in 2018, when the trio as well as Megan Schutt and Beth Mooney featured in the one-off match. The very next day, Belinda Clark, the former Australian captain who is CA'S interim high-performance head, wrote back saying that a decision could only be taken after the two boards had sorted the scheduling for the Australian men's ODI tour of India next January.
That ODI series has emerged as a sticking point between the two boards, with CA facing the prospect of having no ODI series during the home summer for the first time in several decades. It is believed that CA chief executive Kevin Roberts has been trying hard to get his BCCI counterpart Rahul Johri to reconsider the Indian position and allow the three-match ODI series to be deferred.
"Thanks so much for the note and detailed background regarding the planned progression of the women's IPL," Clark wrote in her e-mail reply. "We will be in a position to consider the request when the current issue re [regarding] the men's ODI series that was agreed in the FTP for late January 2020 is resolved by Rahul and Kevin. I understand that this is being worked through at present."
It is understood that subsequent to Clark's response, the BCCI sent CA multiple requests to confirm the Australian women's participation for the exhibition series, but hasn't received a response.
Despite the CA continuing to deliberate on the matter, the BCCI top brass is clear that the FTP is now formally signed and not negotiable. During the conversations between the two boards, the BCCI has stressed that the final schedules for both the Test Championship as well as the ODI league were prepared in the presence of various other boards - New Zealand Cricket, Cricket South Africa, CA and BCCI - along with the ICC's senior management, and the schedule had been reworked numerous times to allow boards to fine-tune the dates.
According to a senior BCCI official, India had committed to hosting Australia in January 2020 with January 12, 15 and 17 being chalked out as the dates for the three-match ODI series, though CA, it is understood, had checked with BCCI whether that ODI series could be played in India in March instead. However, South Africa will arrive in India to play an ODI series in March immediately after their home series against Australia. The BCCI also told CA that Indian players would need to be given at least a 15-day gap before playing the IPL, and hence the Australia series could not be rearranged.
As reported earlier, the standoff between the two boards has also left Australian broadcasters angry, both about an absence of ODI cricket on the home calendar as well as the fact that the nation's best players will be travelling during the Big Bash League.