Coronavirus pandemic

T20 World Cup may be biggest victim

India captain Virat Kohli, one of the world's top batsmen, could be playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL if the T20 World Cup is postponed.
India captain Virat Kohli, one of the world's top batsmen, could be playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL if the T20 World Cup is postponed.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Delay to event in Australia may free up slot late in 2020 for cricket's money-spinning IPL

SYDNEY • Like other sports, cricket has not been spared from the devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, with competitions like the Indian Premier League (IPL) suspended since March.

And the Twenty20 World Cup, which is scheduled for Oct 18 to Nov 15 in Australia, looks set to be the latest tournament to fall by the wayside because of the Covid-19 crisis.

According to a report in the Times of India yesterday and corroborated by other Indian news outlets like TV channels Times Now and CNN-News18, an official announcement of its postponement to next year is expected by next week.

Cricket Australia boss Kevin Roberts also appears resigned that the tournament will be pushed back, given the logistical challenge of bringing in 15 foreign teams at a time when air travel has all but come to a halt due to border controls enacted to stem the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

Australian borders are also closed to international flights until mid-September at the earliest and there is a two-week quarantine order for all arrivals in effect.

While he said it was "ultimately a decision for the ICC (International Cricket Council)", its likely postponement does provide a silver lining for the IPL.

The competition, which is the richest in the sport and worth almost US$530 million (US$754.3 million) a year to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has yet to get under way.

With India recording almost 120,000 cases and over 3,500 deaths till yesterday, the authorities have been unable to give a concrete date when the league can safely commence. However, should the T20 World Cup be postponed as expected, then the late October to mid-November slot can be freed up for the league's start.

The BCCI has also recognised that the open window would suit the IPL - the monsoon season starts next month and lasts four months, rendering cricket unplayable - although it will wait for confirmation from the ICC before firming up its plans.

"We are engaging with various agencies," the board's chief executive Rahul Johri told Forbes magazine yesterday. "Cricketing activities can start only after monsoon. By then, hopefully, things will improve."

BCCI treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal also told Reuters yesterday: "If we have the (Twenty20) window available, and depending on what all can be organised, we'll decide accordingly."

While he said India would not be recommending that the T20 World Cup be pushed back, he also cast doubt on the viability of staging the event this year.

He added: "Will it make sense to play games without spectators?"

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline 'T20 World Cup may be biggest victim'. Print Edition | Subscribe