No decision on T20 World Cup yet, says ICC

May 28, 2020

KARACHI: Australia are supposed to host the money-spinning Twenty20 World Cup in October-November but prospects of the 16-nation spectacle taking place this year are fading.And not just because of...

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KARACHI: Australia are supposed to host the money-spinning Twenty20 World Cup in October-November but prospects of the 16-nation spectacle taking place this year are fading.

And not just because of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to sources, the powerful Indian cricket board (BCCI) is pushing for the postponement of the tournament because it wants to fit in this year’s edition of the Indian Premier League during the window that is currently occupied by the T20 World Cup in Australia.

There have been a series of reports coming out of India which have suggested that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has no option but to push the event to 2022.

This happened even though the top ICC officials are supposed to discuss their contingency plans for the tournament in a high-level meeting on Thursday (today).

On Wednesday, the ICC was forced to deny reports that a decision had been taken to postpone the tournament penciled in from October 18 to November 15, announcing that preparations are ongoing.

Several reports in the Indian media had claimed that ICC members had come to an understanding that this year’s event would be pushed back to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ICC has not taken a decision to postpone the T20 World Cup and preparations are ongoing for the event in Australia this year as per plan,” ICC said in a statement.

“This is on the agenda for the ICC Board meeting tomorrow and a decision will be taken in due course.”

A Cricket Australia spokeswoman said she was unaware of any decision being taken to postpone the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the Indians are keen over a decision to postpone the T20 World Cup as it will give them a perfect opportunity to stage the IPL.

The lucrative franchise-based tournament, which was supposed to start at the end of March, had to be postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic and the BCCI could see a $530m dip in revenue if it fails to find another window for the competition.

Meanwhile, as the prospects of the men’s T20 World Cup proceeding on schedule in Australia this October recede by the day, the ICC board will consider alternative scenarios on Thursday.

An official decision may not come after the board meeting but according to one official familiar with the contingency planning, a tournament this year would be “too big a risk” in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The official said the logistics of arranging a global tournament would be “impossible to manage,” and that the “safe option” would be to not have it this year.

Alternative options as to when the tournament can take place were drawn up in a meeting of the Finance & Commercial Affairs (F&CA) Committee, an influential sub-committee within the ICC, on May 22.

Although it is looking increasingly likely that international cricket will resume soon enough the challenges of bringing together 16 teams from across the world into one country and creating a bio-secure bubble for them is of a different scale altogether. The ICC has to take into account multiple travel restriction policies, different quarantine measures in different countries and the loss of revenue from a tournament played behind closed doors (not to mention the additional costs of playing matches in a bio-secure environment).

It is possible that the ICC Board does not make the decision official today and instead waits till its annual conference scheduled for mid-July. But one official said leaving the final decision late would hurt all stakeholders. “If there is uncertainty too close to the actual event itself then stakeholders like the broadcaster will not like it.” —with inputs from agencies

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