ICC T20 World Cup: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is in a fix over two events — IPL 2021 Phase 2 and the ICC T20 World Cup. The Sourav Ganguly-led board has already confirmed the UAE as the venue for IPL while asking the ICC for more time on a decision to host the World Cup in India. But as the ICC must take over the stadiums for World Cup at least by October 1, it threatens the IPL matches that will be hosted in three stadiums in the UAE. To bypass the threat, the BCCI is in talks with Sri Lanka Cricket informally to see if it can host World Cup matches.
The IPL 2021 Phase 2 is slated to begin sometime between September 17-19 with a potential final on October 10 while the ICC T20 World Cup is scheduled for October 18. But as per norms, ICC must take over the venues at least 15 days before the tournament. As India’s chances of hosting the World Cup is all but over with possible objection of players and a potential 3rd wave of COVID-19, UAE is still the standby venue.
But there lies the problem. To conduct the IPL 2021 Phase 2 smoothly, BCCI needs time till October 10 — something that will clash with ICC’s obligation. While Oman was on the cards to host the initial qualifying matches, ICC would still need the UAE stadiums. To save the IPL 2021, BCCI is talking to Sri Lanka Cricket if it could host ICC T20 World Cup matches. That way, there will be no threat on IPL and the World Cup could be safely hosted, provided the COVID-19 situation improves in the island nation.
“See, there is no denying the fact that BCCI and ECB (Emirates Cricket Board) officials have been having discussions on taking the showpiece event (T20 WC) to UAE with an eye on the COVID-19 situation in India. But what also needs to be kept in mind here is that hosting the IPL would mean quite a few games, not to forget other tournaments or matches that might be held in some of the venues and tired wickets by the time of the World Cup,” a BCCI source told ANI.
ICC T20 World Cup: Reasons why IPL and World Cup cannot be held back-to-back
- IPL gets over on October 10 while T20 World Cup starts on October 8. The teams need to camp in UAE, making it a difficult affair to provide facilities.
- ICC must take over the stadiums at least 15 days before an ICC event. While it has been learnt that IPL playoff matches will be conducted at one venue, ICC will still need that stadium by at least October 3.
- With PSL 2021, bilateral series and IPL 2021, the wickets of three stadiums in the UAE will slow down and would not provide an exciting World Cup spectacle that ICC wants.
But as Sri Lanka has a lot more venues than the UAE, the ICC T20 World Cup could be conducted smoothly in the country without thinking about slow pitches. Furthermore, the BCCI has already promised to play multiple bilateral series to help SLC recover COVID-19 losses.
If the World Cup is played in Sri Lanka, the BCCI would have to pay the board a hefty amount while keeping the hosting rights. But it won’t need to keep the promise of the bilateral series any longer.
“Keeping the playing conditions in mind, there have been some talks with SLC officials and just basic discussions, to be honest. Too early to get into the details, but we still have some time before we need to get back to the ICC to inform them on the situation as the BCCI will continue to have the hosting rights even if it is played outside India,” the source added.
ICC T20 World Cup: The SLC had also approached BCCI earlier, expressing interest to host the IPL 2021 Phase 2 matches but with Sri Lanka reeling under a spike in COVID cases, the Indian board did not show interest. Furthermore, the broadcasters, according to the source, could back Sri Lanka to host the World Cup.
“See, these are tough times and with COVID-19 it is an ever-changing situation. So, don’t think the host broadcasters would mind backing BCCI if they look at Sri Lanka as an option to host the showpiece event. Keeping options open is not a bad thing,” the source said.
However, first, BCCI needs to inform ICC about its decision on hosting the event in India. The ICC has given BCCI time till June 28 to take a call. BCCI is monitoring the situation in India and a decision is expected by the end of this month. In addition to that, the BCCI will also need to inform the ICC about the tax issues in India. But in either case, BCCI will retain the hosting rights.