MELBOURNE, Australia — Now that the Twenty20 World Cup has been postponed, cricket officials in Australia are focusing on plans to host a test series against India.
Cricket Australia cast doubt in May on the chances of the T20 World Cup going ahead as scheduled from Oct. 18 to Nov. 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The International Cricket Council confirmed late Monday that the 16-nation tournament will be delayed until the same months in 2021.
There’s no certainty over the venue — it’ll be either in Australia or India. Both those countries are now focusing on scheduling for this October and November, which could include an Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates, and negotiations for a bilateral series, which could mean the Indian team having to go into quarantine in Australia for two weeks.
Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s interim chief executive and head of the organizing committee for the Twenty20 World Cup, welcomed the clarity from the ICC regarding the delay. In a reshaped schedule, there’ll be T20 World Cups in 2021 and ’22 — India had been due to host it next year — and the 2023 World Cup in the 50-over format will be delayed until the end of 2023.
“We’re really well placed to deliver that event” in 2021, Hockley told an online conference with reporters on July 21. “If it’s 2022 then equally it will be a fantastic event. In many ways it gives us a bit more time to create even more additional certainty around the health situation.”
Australia hosted the women’s T20 World Cup, which finished just before the coronavirus lockdown in March when a record crowd of 86,174 watched Australia beat India in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Hockley said a postponement rather than a cancellation of the men’s tournament was positive.
“With international borders currently closed and requiring exemptions, the prospect of bringing 15 teams in and moving them around the country, the decision to postpone the event was absolutely inevitable,” he said.
Australia closed its borders in March and has heavily restricted numbers of international visitors. Borders between states in Australia have started reopening, though, and varying quarantine rules have meant athletes in some sports and leagues have had to relocate interstate into so-called “bubbles” to ensure their leagues or competitions can be played.
Creating a bio-secure “bubble” where teams can live and practice — as has been created in Southampton and Manchester to accommodate England’s test series between England and West Indies — is likely to be the only way for international cricket in Australia to go ahead this year. The first test is set to start at the Gabba in Brisbane in early December.
“We’re working on even in that quarantine environment that the players have got the absolute best training facilities,” Hockely said. “We will need to get travel exemptions. It’s unlikely that international travel restrictions will have lifted by the time India will be due to come into the country.”