The BCCI will ask for one month’s extension to decide on hosting the T20 World Cup in India amid the looming COVID-19 threat when the all-powerful ICC Board holds a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss a host of other issues as well. While earlier, it was decided that BCCI president Sourav Ganguly will attend the meet in person, it is learnt that now he will be present virtually and will only leave for the UAE on Wednesday to have discussions on the organisation of IPL with Emirates Cricket Board. There are no concrete outcomes expected at the meeting and after July 1, the BCCI will hold another SGM.
The ICC is likely to make a formal announcement of its final decision during its annual conference that starts on July 18.
While the remainder of the IPL has been shifted to the United Arab Emirates between September 15 to October 15, the Indian cricket board doesn’t want to let go the opportunity of hosting the global T20 event, which also has Emirates as back-up hosts.
“The COVID-19 cases are reducing but obviously it is still not a situation where we can firmly commit to hosting the World T20,” a senior BCCI source privy to developments told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
“Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah are right in asking for one month’s time to decide,” the source added.
“Obviously, they will also get a feedback from the government whether it would be prudent to host it in India,” he said.
“The second aspect is that you never know when the cases rise again. Right now, the lockdown in various parts of the country is yielding some good results but as we had seen the sudden surge during IPL, the situation remains fluid,” he added.
However, one thing is clear that even if BCCI manages to host the tournament between the third week of October and second week of November, there is no question of nine cities being allotted games.
“If BCCI manages to host the tournament in October-November which is currently a 50-50 probability, it could well mean single city three venues in Mumbai along with Pune and Ahmedabad as venue for the final,” he said.
“This curtails travel. But Pakistan team playing in Maharashtra and Gujarat also needs to be factored in,” the source said.
The other issue that BCCI is facing currently is tax waiver that ICC gets for its global events. It is understood that while BCCI is in discussion with the top government functionaries, there are no easy solutions.
If BCCI can’t arrange the tax waiver from the government, it will have to forego ICC revenue to the tune of USD 125 million (INR 905 crore approx).
“In this post pandemic world and a hostile economic climate which is pretty hostile, the Indian government providing a tax relief close to Rs 1000 crore for a cricket event seems like wishful thinking,” the source said.
“But then if BCCI can pull it off, good for them. In any case, we are not likely to give up on our hosting rights even if it is held in the UAE,” the BCCI source added.
FTP Cycle 2023-31
The Futures Tours & Programme Cycle for the next eight years between 2023 to 2031 will also be discussed with provision for the flagship ICC events apart from the bilateral series.
“Obviously due to the pandemic, every cricket board has lost money and the bilateral events are the way forward to recover the costs,” the official said.
In any case, currently rested ICC CEO Manu Sawhney’s proposal of a marquee ICC event every year was red flagged by the ‘Big Three’ much earlier.
“They need to look after the financial health of their boards,” the official further added.
Also the future of the World Test Championship will also be discussed after a much curtailed first edition due to the pandemic.
ICC chairman Greg Barclay, a few months back, had expressed his apprehensions about the future of the tournament but a lot of people believe that its prospects can’t be judged in a year where there was a global crisis.
Global Strategy going forward
The ICC will also discuss a strategy for the global growth of the game with special emphasis on women’s cricket.
India’s participation in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games has given ICC a big boost along with BCCI’s in-principle approval to take part in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
The ICC board wants to spread the game equally in 104 countries. “Women’s game is the next big thing and T20 is a tool to popularise women’s game globally,” the board source said.
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