Packed schedule a double-edged sword

Bangladesh concluded their Caribbean tour on a high after defeats in the Test and T20I series with a 3-0 whitewash in the ODIs, but the team will have little time to catch their breath as they are scheduled to head to Zimbabwe towards the end of the month.

That busy schedule is something the Tigers will have to get used to in light of the news that Bangladesh have 34 Tests, 59 ODIs and 51 T20Is lined up for the 2024-2027 cycle under the proposed scheduled of the ICC Future Tour Programme (FTP).

Bangladesh are only behind England (42), Australia (41) and India (38) in terms of the number of Tests that each nation will play in the proposed cycle, reported by ESPNCricinfo. Bangladesh also have the highest number of ODI assignments and their total number of matches stands at 144, only behind the West Indies, who will play 146 matches.

Bangladesh have 34 Tests, 59 ODIs and 51 T20Is lined up for the 2024-2027 cycle under the proposed scheduled of the ICC Future Tour Programme (FTP).

Since Bangladesh received Test status, their performances in the longest format of the game has remained an area that they have looked to desperately improve. Discussions about how that could be achieved always noted that playing more Tests was a pre-requisite and, to some extent, the BCB's diplomatic success at the ICC table in this regard is praiseworthy.

"We have been trying to increase the number of games in our international calendar for the past eight years or so," BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury told The Daily Star yesterday.

But, similar to the previous FTP cycle, none of Bangladesh's 34 Tests in the proposed FTP feature matches against England or Australia.

After playing bilateral series against all Test-playing nations in the 2001-2006 FTP cycle, Australia did not play a Test series against the Tigers during the 2006-2011 cycle. Bangladesh did then host Australia and England in 2016 and 2017, but have had no Test series against the teams since. So questions remain how Bangladesh can improve the standard of Test cricket without facing top opponents in tougher conditions like Australia and England.

On the flip side, the increase number of matches will pose a big challenge to the BCB's aims of lifting the standards of domestic cricket. Given such a busy international schedule, top cricketers' participation is likely to be an issue that makes domestic competitions less competitive.

"We are not doing well in Tests and T20Is. We already have a few plans for Test cricket. But the thing is that we have not able to understand what to do to make domestic cricket more competitive. The pitches are better now so I don't think we need to make any massive changes from that aspect.

"If we need the participation of national players to make domestic cricket more competitive but we are unable to ensure that, then how can we make the domestic cricket competitive? It's tough, but we have discussed the issue. Let's see," BCB president Nazmul Hassan told the media on Sunday.

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