ICC T20 World Cup, which is set in October or November, could be shifted to United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The first backup option is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and now the capital of Oman, Muscat, has been selected as the fourth venue. The other three options are Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah for the tournament, which will start in the last week of October.
“Yes, the BCCI, during the ICC board meeting, has formally asked for a four-week window to take a final call but, internally, they have said that they would like to keep the hosting rights and wouldn’t mind the tournament being held in UAE and Oman,” the official said.
The three UAE rounds will be given time to rejuvenate after the 31 IPL games. So the first few matches of the ICC T20 World Cup will be played in Muscat.
“If IPL finishes by October 10, then the UAE leg of World T20 can start off in November, which would give three weeks’ time to the pitches to be spruced up for the global event. In the meanwhile, the first week can be held in Oman,” the official said.
The ICC board believes India is trying to bide time as they take stock of the situation when it is difficult to predict how things pan out in October-November.
“If you think about it practically, India is now reporting around 120,000 plus cases which is close to one-third of what was being reported at the end of April and start of this month.”
“But sitting on June 28, if you say “yes” to holding the World T20 in India, how can you predict the health situation in October if there is a third wave,” the official asked.
The second question is that if BCCI can’t host IPL 2021 in India in September, how can it hold the ICC T20 World Cup in the country in the next month.
“Look, everyone including BCCI brass knows that monsoon is not a good enough reason and it is COVID-19, with almost 2500 crore revenue riding on the tournament.”
“In a 16-team event, if there is one team that gets affected in bubble with multiple cases, it won’t be like IPL. For weaker national teams, you won’t get ready replacements outside 14 or 15 men. There are teething issues,” the official said.
“They would certainly come and play the IPL in the UAE and would be more than happy to play the T20 World Cup over there,”
“But one can be rest assured that there would apprehensions with regards to health safety with players’ families and their boards and the local cricket association would give them an update on health threat perceptions. It would be easier said than done,” the official said.