A decision on the fate of this years T20 World Cup in Australia was on Wednesday (June 10) deferred until next month by the International Cricket Council, which also decided to give the BCCI another six months to obtain mandatory tax exemptions for hosting tournaments.
The three-hour meeting of the all-powerful ICC Board, held via video conference, didn’t spell out anything on the nomination process to find outgoing chairman Shashank Manohar’s successor.
However, the ICC decided to continue investigations into the leak of classified e-mails and all board members were made party to the inquiry.
For BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, it was a good day in office as there was some headway, even though temporary, into the long-standing tax-exemption feud which started with the World T20 in India back in 2016.
“A six month extension in deadline means that there has been some headway in discussions between BCCI and ICC. Tax exemption is governments prerogative. The Central government cannot overnight give an exemption for 2021 World T20. Of all people ICC chairman would know it,” a BCCI veteran told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Already, the BCCI’s case of paying USD 23.7 million as tax exemption for the 2016 World T20 is being heard by ICC’s Disputes Resolution Committee. But no decision was taken with regards to T20 World Cup in Australia scheduled to be held in October-November but looking increasingly uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is understood that Australia’s sports minister Richard Colbeck’s positive message about the health situation Down Under may have also played a role in ICC keeping the decision on hold while discussing “contingency options”.
“We will only get one chance to make this decision and it needs to be the right one and as such we will continue to consult with our Members, broadcasters, partners, governments and players and to ensure that we make a well informed decision,” ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney said in a statement.
Sawhney made it clear that the ICC will try its best to conduct the event in Australia even though Cricket Australia hasn’t shown as much keenness in organising the event this year as it has for the high profile India series at the end of the year.
“The situation surrounding the global pandemic is evolving rapidly and we want to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to make the right decision for the whole sport. The health and well-being of everyone involved is our priority and other considerations fall out from that,” Sawhney added.
With no decision taken, it is expected that outgoing chairman Manohar will not take a final call on the future of the event as he will be stepping down this month. However, there was no word on why there was no clarity on the election and nomination process for the next chairman. There was another round of discussions about the e-mail leaks after ICC’s Ethics Officer submitted his initial findings.
“The enquiry, which is being led by the ICC Ethics Officer, will be supported administratively by a sub-group of the Board comprising Independent Director Indra Nooyi and Chair of the F&CA Ehsan Mani.
“All Members of the Board and ICC Management are party to the enquiry,” the ICC release stated.
In its previous meeting on May 28, the board deferred a decision on the fate of the showpiece in Australia till June 10, while continuing to explore contingency plans amid a ranging pandemic that has derailed calendars worldwide.
On Tuesday (June 9), the ICC approved COVID-19 replacements in Test cricket, banned the use of saliva and re-introduced non-neutral umpires for bilateral series as part of its interim playing regulations to tackle the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As per the five new regulations, the teams will also be allowed an additional DRS call as home umpires will now be officiating in bilateral Test series.
Also, a 32-inch additional logo would be permitted on the players jerseys, which will help teams make commercial gains as Boards battle the pandemics financial blow.
“Teams will be allowed to replace players displaying symptoms of COVID-19 during a Test match. In line with concussion replacements, the Match Referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement,” the ICC stated in a press release.
“However, the regulation for COVID-19 replacements will not be applicable in ODIs and T20Is,” it added.
The CEC predictably ratified the ban on use of saliva, which is considered to be a transmitter of novel coronavirus unlike sweat which will still be allowed to shine the ball.
Repeated violation of the ban would at first invite a warning before a five-run penalty is imposed.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan batting great Kumar Sangakkara feels that one of the options is to cancel the T20 World Cup this year as many questions around the COVID-19 pandemic remain “unanswered”.
Sangakkara, who is the president of the prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), feels the situation needs to be monitored.
The postponement of this year’s T20 World Cup to 2022 might open up a window for the lucrative Indian Premier League in October this year.
The organisation of the IPL will largely depend on India’s COVID-19 situation during that time but with the central government trying to bring in normalcy, the cash-rich league could get a five-week condensed window to go ahead.
Some of the issues that BCCI as well as all other stakeholders will be dealing with include, limited or no spectators as per ICC regulations.
Limited number of venues and increase of double-headers could be the way forward. Also the organisation should be in such a manner that all foreign players coming in might need to go for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
In that case, when do they arrive? Also when India tour Australia, they might also have to quarantine themselves which means the team needs at least three weeks before playing the first Test.
(With inputs from agencies)