Cricket Australia has a major decision on its hands after the ICC’s decision to push back the World T20 tournament leaves it dangerously close to the 2021-22 Ashes series.
Originally scheduled for India, the country’s COVID-19 crisis has seen the prestigious tournament moved to the UAE and Oman. It will now run between October 17 and November 14.
“Whilst we are incredibly disappointed not to be hosting the event in India, the decision gives us the certainty we need to stage the event in a country that is a proven international host of multi-team events in a biosecure environment,” acting ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said in a statement.
Australia’s current quarantine policy for international returnees means Australian cricketers would be freed from their 14 days in hotel quarantine just nine days before Day 1 of the first Ashes Test on December 8, should they reach the World T20 final.
Given the dramatic circumstances surrounding the IPL’s postponement in May, in which players were left stranded in India after a decision to close the borders to the country, even being allowed back into Australia is far from certain.
Even in a best-case scenario, less than two weeks’ worth of preparation for a Test series is far from ideal, let alone one as iconic as the Ashes. It would also force Australia to field a second-string XI for the one-off Test against Afghanistan, which starts on November 27 in Hobart.
Players expected to feature at the World T20 include star fast-bowling trio Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, batsmen Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner, and possibly even rising all-rounder Cameron Green, who made his limited-overs debut in an ODI against India last summer.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has a similar decision on its hands, with star players Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer, among others, in the same boat.
Australia has never won a World T20 since its inception in 2007, with its best finish a runner-up position in the 2010 tournament, when they were beaten in the final by England.