The International Cricket Council has told Reuters it is continuing preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in Australia this year as planned and denied reports on Wednesday that a decision had been taken to postpone the event.
Media reports in India said ICC members had come to an understanding that this year’s event would be pushed back to 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ICC board is to meet on Thursday to discuss several issues related to the pandemic and its members will also address the fate of the World Cup, which is due to be played at stadiums around Australia from 18 October to 15 November.
“The ICC has not taken a decision to postpone the T20 World Cup and preparations are ongoing for the event in Australia this year as per plan,” a spokesman for the governing body told Reuters.
“This is on the agenda for the ICC Board meeting tomorrow and a decision will be taken in due course.”
Australia has been among the most successful nations in containing the spread of the new coronavirus but travel restrictions remain in place with several state and territory borders still closed.
A Cricket Australia spokeswoman told Reuters she was unaware of any decision being taken to postpone the World Cup.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI), which is set to host the following edition of the tournament in 2021, is keeping a close eye on developments as a postponement could open up a window for this year’s Indian Premier League.
The lucrative franchise-based tournament, which was supposed to start at the end of March, had to be postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic and the BCCI could see a $530 million dip in revenue if it fails to find another window for the competition.
Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins told reporters on Wednesday that the IPL would be a great stand-in if the World Cup was postponed.
“You have millions and millions around the world watching that format and I’m sure this year could potentially be even more after a long break off cricket,” he added.
Earlier, PTI had reported on 15 May that ICC's Events Committee — led by Chris Tetley — might present multiple options and one of the options that members are likely to seriously contemplate is shifting the tournament to October-November, 2022 while India hosts its edition in 2021.
It can also be safely concluded that India will be touring Australia at the end of the year as members are likely to give more precedence to bilateral engagements to recover from the financial losses incurred during the pandemic.
The board member also said that it's not only about the countries but also about broadcasters Star Sports, which incidentally holds rights for both the ICC events as well as BCCI's 'India Cricket' rights and the IPL rights.
"There are a few questions that need to be asked. The commercial viability of having a T20 World Cup in February-March 2021. Before that, an IPL in October-November window and another IPL in the March-May window," a BCCI insider privy to the broadcast deals said.
"So we are looking at three big-ticket tournaments in six months. In this current economic scenario, that will be a very bad call," he added.
He also listed the bilateral engagements that the BCCI will agree to.
"India is most certainly going to Australia and England is coming for a five-match series in India. As far as South Africa T20 series is concerned, let Cricket South Africa decide where they stand as far as ICC policy matters are concerned," the source said.
"With Chris Nenzani, BCCI will only believe when he puts pen to paper,he added.
The organisation of the Indian Premier League will largely depend on India's COVID-19 situation during that time but with the central government trying to bring in normalcy, the cash-rich league could get a five-week condensed window to go ahead.
Some of the issues that BCCI as well as all other stakeholders will be dealing with include, limited or no spectators as per ICC regulations.
Limited number of venues and increase of double-headers could be the way forward. Also the organisation should be in such a manner that all foreign players coming in might need to go for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
In that case, when do they arrive? Also when India tour Australia, they might also have to quarantine themselves which means the team needs at least three weeks before playing the first Test.
Tax exemption for 2021 T20 World Cup
The ICC Board is also likely to discuss the issue of tax exemption for the 2021 World T20 in India as BCCI has sought more time due to the lockdown in order to get a clearer picture from the government.
Already, the 2016 World T20 tax rebate issue has been referred to the tribunal. The deadline to get tax exemption was December 2019 but it is understood that the BCCI can hardly do anything when it comes to the country's existing tax laws.
"If they didn't change it in 2016 World T20, why would they change the rule in 2021. And also the tax exemption is primarily on waiver of import duty of broadcast equipments.
"We can understand that exemption is required in Australia but here Star has a fully operational set-up with all production equipments. Why do you require exemption?" the BCCI official asked.
Will ICC then deduct the tax waiver amount from India's revenue share? Only time will tell as the global body gets a new chairman in two months.
Process to elect next chairman
The process of nomination to elect the new chairman will start soon. While England and Wales Cricket Board's former chairman Colin Graves is the favourite, tables could well turn as BCCI president Sourav Ganguly might throw his hat in the ring.
While there has been no formal announcement from the BCCI, treasurer Arun Dhumal in a recent interview to PTI said that "Ganguly has the credentials" to become one.
With inputs from PTI and Reuters
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