11 Jun

The ICC has bought further time before making a decision on the fate of the men's T20 World Cup, as it keeps tabs on the encouraging progress Australia and New Zealand are making against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament is scheduled to be played this October-November in Australia, but the chances of it going ahead have not looked especially promising in recent weeks. Less than a fortnight ago, Cricket Australia (CA)'s chief executive Kevin Roberts said the tournament was at "very high risk."

This week, however, Richard Colbeck, the Australian Sports Minister, told Sportstar that the country had flattened the pandemic curve and consequently was a "fitting host for an international sporting spectacle" and could even allow spectators based on the ground situation at the time.

On Wednesday, the ICC board agreed to continue discussing a number of options, as part of the contingency planning, "whilst planning for delivery of the events in the scheduled window is ongoing."

Meanwhile the BCCI is open to hosting the IPL in "empty stadiums" as long as the tournament is conducted in 2020. In a letter sent to the state associations on Wednesday, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said the board remained "optimistic" about the IPL which was postponed indefinitely in April in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The BCCI is working on all possible options to ensure that we are able to stage the IPL this year, even if it means playing the tournament in empty stadiums," Ganguly said in the e-mail, accessed by ESPNcricinfo. "The fans, franchisees, players, broadcasters, sponsors and all other stakeholders are keenly looking forward to the possibility of IPL being hosted this year."

The IPL remains BCCI's biggest money spinner annually, with the board deriving a large portion of its revenue from its lucrative league, thanks to the record media rights deal worth INR 16,347.5 crore (approx. US$ 2.55 billion) signed in 2017. If there is no IPL this year, the BCCI stands to lose around INR 4,000 crore (US$ 530 million approx.) from the media rights deal.

The biggest challenge for the BCCI is finding a window for the IPL, which created a free window for itself in April-May owing to its success since 2008. However, with the fate of global tournaments like the Asia Cup, Men's T20 World Cup and the series that form part of the World Test Championship hanging in balance, the IPL too remains undecided.

According to the data collated by the Indian government, the country currently has over 137,000 active cases of people infected by Covid-19, with over 8000 deaths.

John Stephenson


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