Cricket Australia’s T20 World Cup hopes ‘fade’

Australia women's captain Meg Lanning (C) poses with athletes from different codes L-R: Carlton AFLW General manager and former player Nicole Graves, Victoria Rugby League player Victoria Ansell , Western Bulldogs AFLW player Isabel Huntington, Melbourne Vixens players Rahni Samason and Mwai Kumwenda , Western Bulldogs AFLW player Aisling McCarthy, North Kangaroos AFLW player Jess Duffin and Carlton AFLW player Courtney Webb during ICC T20 World Cup 2020 morning tea to celebrate one-year-to-go to the women’s final at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 08, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

This year’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket tournament in Australia looks increasingly likely to be postponed.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported at the weekend that Cricket Australia officials were “resigned” to the tournament being postponed. It is currently scheduled to run from October 18 to November 15.

The newspaper reported that options being considered include moving the tournament to February 2021 and the second half of 2021. The latter option could have implications for the 2021 T20 World Cup, planned for India in October and November. The views of international broadcasters are reportedly being sought as to when the tournament should be held.

The Press Trust of India reported that the International Cricket Council will consider several options for the tournament at its next meeting on May 28, including holding it on schedule, with fans in attendance and with those taking part undergoing 14-day quarantines; holding the tournament on schedule but behind closed doors; and moving the tournament to 2022.

Cricket officials would prefer not to play without fans. The women’s T20 World Cup final in Australia in March drew a crowd of 86,174.

Since at least April, plans have been under discussion to overcome the Covid-19 hurdle, include testing players, quarantining them in their home countries, then flying them to the host venue for the 16-nation tournament.

The men’s tournament is understood to be not as valuable financially to Cricket Australia as the India team’s planned tour, scheduled for after the World Cup. CA only earns direct revenue from the World Cup via a hosting fee from the ICC and ticket sales – media rights and sponsorship revenue is collected by the ICC and shared out among member boards.

The Press Trust of India quoted an unnamed ICC board source saying: “CA wouldn’t be too unhappy if the World T20 is shifted to 2022. At the end of the day, ICC is made up of members. If members decide that bilateral series are more important, you can’t discount that.”

The Indian Premier League could be a major beneficiary if the World Cup is postponed, as it could potentially use the October-November dates freed up to stage its 2020 season.

The IPL was forced to postpone its normal April-May season due to the Covid-19 lockdown in India.

The IPL is worth much more to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, generating a reported $512m (€473m) a year, than the $80m it reportedly receives annually as a distribution of ICC revenues.

BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told Reuters: “When cricket resumes, we could give the IPL a priority. The difference between an international tournament and the IPL is that the IPL can be played between one or two cities and the logistics will be easier to manage.”