As anticipated, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the International Cricket Council (ICC) to postpone this year’s T20 World Cup that was scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November. The decision, taken after four months of monitoring, was arrived at an ICC board meeting held virtually on Monday. It also paves the way for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to host this year’s Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The decision to postpone the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup was taken after careful consideration of all of the options available to us and gives us the best possible opportunity of delivering two safe and successful T20 World Cups for fans around the world,” ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney said.
The ICC also shifted the dates of the 2023 ODI World Cup in India from February-March to October-November with the final on November 26. “Moving the World Cup to a later window … gives us a better chance of maintaining the integrity of the qualification process,” Sawhney said. “This additional time will be used to reschedule games that might be lost because of the pandemic ensuring qualification can be decided on the field of play.”
The windows for the Men’s events are:
– ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 will be held October – November 2021 with the final on 14 November 2021
– ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 will be held October – November 2022 with the final on 13 November 2022
– ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 will be held in India October – November 2023 with the final on 26 November 2023
This means there could be three consecutive ICC World Cup years, the T20 versions in 2021 and 2022 and the 50-over version in 2023. “Our members now have the clarity they need around event windows to enable them to reschedule lost bilateral and domestic cricket,” Sawhney said.
A decision on whether India continues to host the 2021 T20 World Cup or whether that will go to Australia, will be taken later. The ICC has not warmed up to the idea of hosting the event in India unless the BCCI resolves a long-standing tax-exemption issue with the Indian government.
“The ICC Business Corporation (IBC) Board agreed to continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation and assess all the information available in order to make a considered decision on future hosts to ensure the sport is able to stage safe and successful global events in 2021 and 2022,” an ICC statement stated.
Window opens up for IPL
Leading the rescheduling queue is the BCCI that has Rs 4000 crore riding on the IPL, its biggest money spinner. “Now that there is a window, we will seek the government permission to host the IPL. We are looking to host it in UAE. A decision will be taken in the IPL governing council meet, this week,” IPL chairman Brijesh Patel said. It’s learnt the BCCI’s contingency plan includes either a 43-day or 50-day closed-door IPL, starting September 26.
The BCCI is used to moving the IPL out of India, having done it in 2014 when the first part was held in the UAE and before that in 2009 to South Africa, both due to general elections. When the event went to South Africa in 2009, it was staged in 37 days with multiple double headers. “We were all looking positively at the prospects of the IPL. We will await more information from the BCCI,” said Satish Menon, the CEO of Kings XI Punjab. “One has to say the decision has come very late, but now that the ICC has finally decided, the BCCI will take all necessary efforts to stage the IPL,” Apex Council member Anshuman Gaikwad said.
Who loses what?
With chances of staging the T20 World Cup with spectators looking bleak, Cricket Australia (CA) were in no mood to play hosts in a situation where there would be no gate receipts and income from hospitality boxes. They had already written to the ICC in May that they would like to see their World Cup postponed to next year. CA and ECB already have a backup series plans in the works, with Australia due to tour England for a six-match limited over series in the first fortnight of September.
The World Cups in India are worth a lot more for the broadcasters in the 2015-23 rights cycle and cover up a lot of the $1.9 billion they paid to acquire the rights. Financially, for member boards outside the big three-BCCI, CA and ECB-this would mean a proportionate reduction in distribution payout. No other board currently has long-term bilateral contracts, and they would have lost out on the participation fee (around $10 million dollars) of the T20 World Cup. Also, in a non-World Cup year, the revenue distribution to member boards also takes a beating.
Papua New Guinea, Oman, Netherlands, Namibia and Scotland, who had qualified for the 16-nation competition, will have to wait longer to participate in the T20 World Cup. Players from bigger teams like India and Australia wouldn’t mind missing a World Cup this year and instead focus on bilateral engagements like their four-Test tour later this year. Now that the September-November window has been unofficially reserved for the IPL, leading cricketers from all around the world will be looking to play in the most lucrative competition.
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