T20 World Cup ‘Not Possible’ this Year, says PCB Chairman

Australia’s slim hopes of hosting the money-spinning ICC Twenty20 World Cup this year seem to be evaporating fast after Pakistan – one of their staunch supporters – conceded on Wednesday that it is not feasible to host a major event because of the Covid-19 situation.

Ehsan Mani, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, believes that the 16-nation tournament would be “deferred” by a year. The event is scheduled between October 18 and November 16 in Australia.

“The biggest challenge in Australia – although Australia and New Zealand they have controlled Covid-19 – their governments are very cautious,” Mani commented during a virtual media briefing.

“If it is played this year they will likely insist it happens in a bio-bubble. Like with the Pakistan team in England, teams come, stay in a hotel, with no crowds. This is okay for one or two teams but when 12-16 teams play in a T20 tournament, it becomes an impossible thing. I don’t think it is feasible today that there is any ICC event in 2020,” said Mani, who heads ICC’s powerful Finance & Commercial Affairs committee.

“In my opinion I think (this year’s tournament) will probably be deferred for a year,” Mani said. “The ICC has time because ICC events were supposed to happen in 2020, 2021 and 2023. The gap in the middle can be filled and this will be deferred. That is where the talk is headed towards. What event will happen first and where, those talks are happening.

“It is a big risk that God forbid, in the middle of a big tournament, if a player gets an infection, the panic from that will be too much so we can’t take that risk.”

So why is that ICC is yet to take a decision on the fate of the T20 World Cup?

Mani stressed that ICC won’t make a hasty call on such an important matter.

“Cricket boards are one stakeholder,” he said. “Another stakeholder is the broadcaster – Star is the broadcaster, they will see their position, what is better for them. Other than Full Members, associates also get money from ICC events so discussions are on with as to what their priorities are.

“But you’ll see that in the next three-four weeks a decision will be taken on this. There is a conference call next week. We’ve had four-five con calls on this in the last month. Obviously a decision will have to be made about where the first event will be. Right now it was to be Australia, then India and then a gap of one year and then India for the World Cup. Now we have to see whether it will be Australia first, or India, to see who will host in 2022.”

There are fears that the ICC will incur major losses if the tournament is postponed and its member nations will suffer because of it.

However, Mani assured that it won’t be the case.

“We always have our contingency plans and we would make up for the loss whenever the event would be held next year. What is most important is the financial support of associate countries and there we have back up plans.”

Mani confirmed that he was approached by a few Test-playing nations to contest the election for ICC Chairman next month but added that his focus remains on Pakistan cricket.

“For me, Pakistan cricket is of utmost importance,” he said.

Mani also reiterated PCB’s stance that it was not seeking anything in exchange from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for sending its team for a Test and T20I series in England.

“We have set no conditions but hope that England 2022 tour to Pakistan would go ahead as planned. Sri Lanka team’s recent visit and MCC cricket tour has already boosted our chances.”

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