There’s less than six months before the start of the T20 World Cup, which is due to be staged in India.
According to the unofficial schedule, Sri Lanka would kick off proceedings against Ireland on the 18th of October, with the final being played on the 15th of November.
This plan was agreed on last year at a time where the COVID pandemic had caused enormous disruption to all aspects of living, including sports. It was generally agreed that it would be irresponsible to hold the World Cup in Australia in 2020 as planned, with so many health and safety issues to be managed.
Fast forward to the present and India has a health situation verging on the catastrophic. Daily case numbers are pushing towards 350,000 and the health system is under unbelievable pressure trying to cope.
I have enormous sympathy for the people living in India. I cannot really comprehend the problems they’re facing, trying to cope with such a devastating health issue. That said, this health crisis in India is going to take a long time to bring under control, so it makes sense for the ICC to quickly make the decision and move the T20 World Cup to Australia.
One of the reasons for postponing the Australian tournament last year was because people were not allowed to attend games. Just last weekend, more than 78,000 people were at the MCG to watch an Aussie rules match.
It stands to reason that the same sorts of numbers would be able to attend cricket games in Australia in October if the country continues to manage the COVID situation as it’s done in the past six months.
Events like this take plenty of organizing. It makes sense for the ICC to give Cricket Australia (CA) the go-ahead to start planning. That would include identifying venues, discussing travel and accommodation options and so on.
CA would also have to work closely with the various state and federal governments to ensure players’ and the public’s health are not compromised if this tournament went ahead.
The biggie in that respect would be managing people from overseas who would come to Australia to watch matches. It’s safe to assume there will be more and more travel bubble agreements with other countries, but there would still have to be reasonable health precautions are taken at grounds.
People will travel to watch games, which will impact the tourism and hospitality industries. Tour companies would need time to make arrangements for a change of country, airlines would need to make sure enough flights were available and ditto for hotels.
Players rightly hate the so-called ‘player bubbles’. Andrew Tye is returning from the IPL for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because he’s spent 11 days since August last year in some form of quarantine. If the World Cup was played in India, it’s likely that would remain the case, even if it starts as planned in October.
I doubt greatly that would happen if the World Cup was played in Australia. Yes, there’d be a need for players to be vaccinated and a quarantine period would also be a possibility. I assume there’d also be ongoing testing or screening, but that’s a small price to pay if players could mingle freely and not have to be locked up in hotels.
Players want to perform at their best and there’s little doubt many have struggled thanks to the restrictions placed on them. Mentally, cricket’s hard enough without having to cope with isolation from family and friends. These sorts of restrictions would not occur if the tournament was in Australia.
One big aspect of this change of location would be the broadcasting rights. It seems Channel Nine holds the rights to broadcast ICC events, so World Cups, until 2023. This could present an interesting dilemma both for the network and for Cricket Australia, which is yet another reason why now is a good time to commit to moving the World Cup.
The World Cup was moved from Australia last year for all the right reasons. It makes sense for the ICC to make a similar move now, for exactly the same reasons, back to Australia.