Could 2021 T20 World Cup be moved out of India?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Hardik Pandya of India (2nd left) celebrates after taking the wicket of Sunil Ambris of West Indies (not shown) during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between West Indies and India at Old Trafford on June 27, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Andy Kearns/Getty Images)
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Just when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) heaved a sigh of relief for getting a go-ahead to host next year’s T20 World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has butted in at the wrong time.

This may sound out of the script for many, but ICC has shortlisted Sri Lanka and UAE as a possible makeshift venue for World T20 2021, which was slated to happen in India. The development is likely to ruffle some feathers within the corridors of the BCCI but there has been no official communication, as far the world’s richest cricket board is concerned.

The ICC had earlier announced that the 2020 T20 World Cup, which was to be hosted by Australia, has been postponed to 2022, which indirectly implies that India holds a status quo situation as far as next year’s T20 World Cup hosts are concerned.

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However, the latest move by the ICC will not go down with the BCCI, who are already in a soup as VIVO, the title sponsors of the Indian Premier League (IPL) have backed out from this edition, meaning potential financial clout for the BCCI.

The ICC has moved swiftly to quash any potential disasters, by clarifying that backup venus is their standard practice for any tournament.

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Aaron Finch with the T20 World Cup trophy.

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T20 World Cup in a nutshell

With the Coronavirus situation evolving every day around the World, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been kept among the back-up venues for the 2021 World Cup, should India fail to curb the spread of the dreaded virus.

The ICC has further added that the extraordinary situation around the virus makes it a mandatory step to have a back-up plan.

It is to be noted that the BCCI was forced to relocate the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) to the UAE as Indian grounds were unable to have the required infrastructure and safety modules in place.

BCCI wants to host the tournament next year to avoid staging back-to-back major tournaments in 2022 and 2023 as the Indian board is also scheduled to host the ODI World Cup in 2023. That scenario would’ve meant hosting three significant tournaments in the space of six months, which would’ve presented a monumental challenge for the BCCI.

The T20 World Cup schedule

However, the ICC decided otherwise after Cricket Australia (CA) backed out from hosting the 2021 edition due to spike in Coronavirus cases down under. Speaking about the change in schedule, CA’s interim CEO Nick Hockley said that they feel hosting the tournament in 20222 will be more beneficial for Australia from an economic standpoint, which in return solves the riddle for the BCCI as well.

We’d sold hundreds of thousands of tickets for this [2020] World Cup coming up in October and November. From a cricket sense, we’ve got incredible communities and supporters for all the competing nations,” Hockley said.

In terms of hosting in 2022, we’re all acutely aware of the challenges at the moment with hosting, travel restrictions and the like. So in many ways, 2022 gives us an even better chance of putting on the event we all originally planned for and were hoping for. We hope by 2022 that the world’s back and we’ve got some normalcy and I think it’ll be a fantastic event,” he added.

The ICC meeting agenda

It is learned that discussions during last week’s board meeting in Dubai did get an in-depth review to compare caseloads in both India and Australia, and what would it mean to both the boards to flip hosting the events.

It was also touted that the decision regarding the venue should be deferred to March 2021, which would’ve given the two countries ample time to take stock of the situation. However, the ICC ruled out that possibility, given that it would’ve involved major logistical issues such as venue management, ticketing etc for both India and Australia.

In short, the game of cat and mouse will go on as the ICC wants to fork out bigger financial piece from its stipulated events. The question is who will blink first, and at what cost.

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