As India battles a raging Covid-19 pandemic, the BCCI is preparing for the “worst case scenario” of moving the 2021 men’s T20 World Cup to the UAE. The marquee event, comprising 16 countries, is scheduled to take place in India between October and November this year, with the final on November 14.
“I hope so. I am doing everything we can to make sure that it happens,” Dhiraj Malhotra, the tournament director for the T20 World Cup, said on the BBC’s Stumped podcast this week. “We will be doing normal scenario, Covid-scenario, worst case scenario. All that we are in talks with the ICC at the moment.”
The record surge in the Covid infections in the country recently, including a mounting death count, has prompted the cricket fraternity to start asking whether India could be fit to host the World Cup which is less than six months away.
According to Malhotra, who took charge this February as BCCI’s general manager of cricket operations and game development, the Indian board had plans to “take” the T20 World Cup to the UAE as a contingency measure if the ICC found India to be unsafe. “It would be (the) UAE. And we are hoping it will again be done by BCCI – we will take the tournament there. So it will be still run by BCCI.”
Recently, the BCCI proposed to the ICC nine venues across India to stage the T20 World Cup: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Dharamsala, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai. Ahmedabad, which houses the world’s largest cricket stadium, was slotted in for the final.
The BCCI is using the two-venue caravan model in play during the 2021 IPL as a dry run to determine whether the same can be replicated for the World Cup, which will be the first multi-team global event staged by the ICC after the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 as a pandemic in 2020. An ICC team including experts from the events, security and biosafety departments, was scheduled to arrive in India to inspect the venues and plans, but that plan had to be shelved with the UAE banning travel to India recently.
Malhotra pointed out that currently the BCCI was still going ahead with the original plan of India hosting the tournament. “As of now we are looking at ticket sales, people travelling from all over the world, but again we don’t know what the situation would be at that point of time.”
Speaking to Indian media agencies on April 7, two days before the start of the IPL, Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s interim chief executive officer, said that although there were back-up plans in place, the global body had not “activated those plans” and was “preparing to go ahead with the event in India as scheduled.”
Since then though, the situation in India has become grim by the day. As per Covid-19 data logged on Friday morning by the US-based John Hopkins University, India has reported over 18 million Covid-19 positive cases (second behind the USA) and is fast moving to become the third on the list of most deaths globally with the current count over 208,000.
Consequently, countries have banned flights to and from India as well as stiffening their quarantine protocols for travelers coming into the country. That move prompted four overseas players from two IPL franchises to return home while also leaving several more uneasy.
Bond – ‘Extra funding’ necessary to have T20 World Cup in India
One of those feeling uneasy is former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond, who is the bowling coach with defending champions Mumbai Indians. “That is the biggest stress for all of us who are over here is how to get home,” Bond said from Delhi on Friday during a virtual media briefing, organised by the Sydney Thunder, the BBL franchise where he was stepping down as head coach.
“There’s no doubt from my perspective, that’s the only thing that keeps you awake at night is thinking: am I going to be able to get in and what are the rulings of the government. But the other is, what you don’t want to be doing is, sitting around all day talking about that stuff because that just wears you down.”
Asked about the feasibility of India hosting the T20 World Cup, Bond said it would be “certainly challenging” compared to hosting the IPL. “There’s no doubt about that. The uniqueness of obviously having something that is privately owned (franchise) is we have our own hotel, we have net bowlers and all the little things that are helping you as a cricket team taken care of. I know when I have been to ICC tournaments the numbers are limited to 23, so if you are carrying only those sorts of numbers and there’s challenges getting in and out of the country then it is going to make it pretty tough.”
“The only way I can see the World Cup happening or making it easier to happen is just extra funding. It just comes down to the level of security in the bubble”
Mumbai Indians bowling coach Shane Bond
Recently the ICC agreed to increase the squad strength to 30 for the T20 World Cup and the women’s ODI World Cup (scheduled in New Zealand in 2022) to help teams use additional players and coaching staff as cover during the pandemic. Bond remained confident that the India could still host the T20 World Cup if the organisers put in some additional measures to create a secure bubble like the IPL model.
“The only way I can see that happening or making it easier to happen is just extra funding. It just comes down to the level of security in the bubble and the extra staff that you might be able to carry here. If you can do that there’s no doubt….in this completion (IPL) the bubble is pretty strong, our one (Mumbai) is outstanding.
“The other thing is in six months’ time things might look drastically different because of the vaccinations or lockdowns that are going on. I’m sure there will be contingencies put in place by the BCCI and the Indian government but there’s still a long way to go before the World Cup is held.”
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
Australia in West Indies 2021
The Australia captain said that performances on the upcoming tours will count for a lot in final selection
“I’m seeing them pretty good,” he said in Brisbane ahead of the squad’s chartered flight to the Caribbean on Monday. “I’ve only been hitting indoors on hard wickets, so [I] think the big test will come in night matches, that’s when I noticed the biggest difference in my eyesight.
“It was just bloody blurry which isn’t ideal as a batsman. One day it just sort of changed and got a little bit worse. It wasn’t very sharp and there was bit of a halo around lights and a bit of a trail on the ball, so just a bit unusual. After New Zealand we thought that was the best time to get it done. Was about a three-week process and it was really smooth. It’s all clear now, so seems really good.”
As in New Zealand, Finch will have a squad stripped of some key players due to a combination of resting, opt-outs and Steven Smith’s elbow injury. It was a long-term plan for David Warner and Pat Cummins to miss the tour, but Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson and Jhye Richardson made themselves unavailable.
That has led to recalls for Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner and Dan Christian along with a maiden call-up for pace bowler Wes Agar.
Finch reiterated the view of national selector Trevor Hohns that significant weight will be put behind performances over these two tours when it comes to the final selection of the T20 World Cup squad which means there may not be a certain path back for all the absentees.
“Playing cricket for Australia and doing well is the ultimate, in my opinion,” he said. “So for guys to be on this tour to get the first opportunity to put their hand up and take that spot is what it’s about. It’s tough to ignore really good international performances.
“It could change a lot. That was based on the World Cup being in Australia and I thought our side in the lead-up to the original World Cup meant to be held here was really settled. You have to look to keep restructuring your side to gather more information. The more the wickets change and the more they go away from our traditional Australian wickets think the more we have to keep learning.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Australians at the PSL: Usman Khawaja, Tim David and James Faulkner leave a mark
Recent Match Report – Gloucs vs Glamorgan South Group 2021
NZ wicketkeeper-bat required just 41 balls to take game away from visitors
Gloucestershire 216 for 2 (Phillips 94*, Howell 53*) beat Glamorgan 182 for 8 (Lloyd 44, Higgins 2-27) by 34 runs
Phillips’ fifth-highest score of his career, and first half-century in the Vitality Blast, powered Gloucestershire to 216 for 2 – their own fifth-highest T20 total. He struck nine fours and six sixes to overwhelm Glamorgan, who gave game chase for a while but could only reply with 182 for 8.
Phillips arrived after Miles Hammond and Chris Dent had given the innings a lively start after losing the toss, making 60 without loss. He cut Marnus Labuschagne through extra cover before lifting Dan Douthwaite over the sight screen. He blasted Prem Sisodiya twice straight back past his for four and swept him fine for another boundary in going to fifty in 26 balls.
He took 14 from the 17th over, clubbing Timm van der Gugten over long-off, before uppercutting Douthwaite for a third six. An extraordinary reverse-scoop flew over third man for six as 23 came from the 18th. In the final over, he launched van der Gugten over the longest boundary at midwicket, crashed him wide of deep cover for four and swung the final ball of the innings over deep-square.
Howell took his chance up at three to make an unbeaten 53 in 33 balls. He struck Callum Taylor for four through extra cover and wide of midwicket before a slug down the ground cleared long-off for six. He drove Weighell for four to raise a fifth T20 half-century.
Glamorgan needed their third-highest T20 total to win and stayed in the game for the first half of the chase. David Lloyd gave them a rattling start with 44 in 22 balls, striking four sixes, three of them short-arm jabs over midwicket and Glamorgan reached 101 for 4 at halfway. But Tom Smith then bowled an over for 9 followed by a wicket maiden to leave 15-an-over for the final five.
Labuschagne was, as ever, a crucial wicket and David Payne yorked him walking across his stumps. His 33 in 21 balls was well light of what Glamorgan needed.
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