Indian Premier League or ICC Twenty20 World Cup? The buzz is that the largest domestic T20 league would be favoured over the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to be held from October 18 to November 15 this year in Australia. However, it is not a case of either/or between the two competitions nor will the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have to flex its financial muscles to create a window for the postponed domestic league and force the ICC’s biannual event off this year’s calendar.
The International Cricket Council, when it decided in its previous meeting of the Chief Executives’ Committee meeting on April 23, had announced it would continue to plan for the upcoming T20 WC as per schedule. However, an influential ICC member has told THE WEEK that things have not changed for the better since then. “We thought by July-August, things would be markedly better, but it doesn’t appear so.”
The ICC has four options before it regarding the tournament—One, to go ahead as per schedule. This is looking less likely with each passing day. The feedback from most member countries set to play in the World Cup is reportedly that teams would need at least 4-5 weeks of high intensity training, competition and preparation to go into the tournament and compete. Anything less would leave players undercooked and worse, it could even cause injuries to players. As of now 4-5 weeks of top level competition for all teams looks difficult.
Besides, there is the real problem of having all 16 countries involved in the tournament (UAE included as the ICC is Dubai-based) to have their airspace free and open in time for the World Cup. Then there is the other big issue of quarantine-related rules.
The second option is to postpone the T20 World Cup by 2-3 months, possibly to February 2021. That, however, would require hosts Australia to ensure venues are available for the tournament as not all of its venues are solely used for cricket. This would also mean pushing the Women’s World Cup which is scheduled to be played in January 2021 in New Zealand to March-April.
Any postponement comes with a cost clause, the ICC and Local Organising Committee (LOC), in this case Cricket Australia, has employed 100-150 staff for this event, and they will have to be paid for that much longer. As everyone’s availability for this event is not guaranteed, new people will have to get on board.
The third option before the ICC is to reschedule the tournament to October 2022 in Australia; And the fourth option will be to swap the event with India, which is set to host the 2021 T20 World Cup. The BCCI can opt to host it in 2022, allowing Australia to host it next year.
The broadcasters are likely to be pleased with a postponement. The advertisers and advertising rates for the IPL and T20 World Cup are not the same, and getting value out of IPL sponsorships will still be less difficult this year as compared to the T20 World Cup.
The BCCI and all its stakeholders already feel that hosting the IPL in September-October or rather after the monsoons would be ideal. No T20 World Cup would also mean that a full window will be available which is a scenario wanted by most franchisees and broadcasters.
It is reliably learnt from sources in key cricket boards that the decision on the ICC T20 World Cup could well be taken in the May 28 meeting itself.