The ICC T20 World Cup 2021 is all set to be shifted from India to the United Arab Emirates with the BCCI having internally intimated the ICC to go ahead with its preparation for the marquee event due to the unpredictable Covid-19 situation in India.
According to a PTI report, while the UAE was always a backup option for the T20 World Cup, Oman’s capital Muscat has been added as the fourth venue, apart from the three venues in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai.
According to a senior board official, Oman has been added as the fourth venue to potentially host the preliminary round of the 16-team competition in order to allow sufficient time for the three UAE pitches that will be used to stage 31 IPL games to freshen up before the T20 World Cup.
‘’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,” a senior board official, privy to ICC board developments, told PTI on the condition of anonymity
‘’If IPL finishes by October 10, then the UAE leg of World T20 can start off in November which would give three weeks’’ time for the pitches to be spruced up for the global event. In the meanwhile, the first week can be held in Oman,” he said.
The official further noted that several ICC board members believe that the BCCI is biding its time before taking a final call for the event at a time when it is very difficult to predict the state of the country with regards to Covid 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 said.
He further noted that if the BCCI is wary of hosting an 8-team tournament like the IPL in India, then how can it possibly host a 16-team T20 World Cup in October-November.
‘’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,’’ an official of an associate nation, which is a part of the tournament, said.
“In a 16-team event, if there is one team that gets affected in the 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,” he added.
But the elephant in the house, the official noted, is whether the foreign cricketers will be ready to risk coming to India if the situation does not improve substantially.
‘’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 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.