August deadline for deciding on World T20 venues
The ICC has given Bangladesh an August deadline to achieve satisfactory standards for its stadiums for next year's World Twenty20 tournament.
Having reviewed the reports by its venue consultant who visited the stadiums in June, the ICC's International Development (IDI) board has pencilled in another inspection for August following which a final decision will be taken on the venues for the tournament that will be played between March 16 and April 6 next year.
The BCB's president Nazmul Hassan admitted his concern ahead of the ICC annual conference in London that the ICC might lose patience over development at two of the four proposed venues, in Sylhet and Cox's Bazar.
Those concerns have now been expressed by the ICC. "The IDI board reviewed an inspection report by the ICC venue consultant … and expressed its concern regarding the progress of construction and improvements to playing facilities in Cox's Bazar and Sylhet," an ICC statement said. "The board noted that a further inspection and report is scheduled for August after which a final decision will be taken."
According to the ICC rules, the venues need to be ready six months ahead of the tournament, including adequately meeting the accommodation requirements for the teams.
After two visits this year, the ICC venue inspection team found construction work at both Sylhet and Cox's Bazar, which is scheduled to host the women's leg of the World T20, was well behind schedule for different reasons. Also, it was worried by a lack of lodging options in Dhaka.
After the first inspection, which took place in May, the ICC team found construction work at Cox's Bazaar had not begun at all, while work on the pavilion in Sylhet - at the ground which was developed last year - had not started either.
In the report the inspectors noted that the stadiums would not be ready before December; the six-month cut off as specified in the rules would be September. The team then returned to do a follow-up inspection on June 10, and the doubts over whether the work would reach its completion at both venues before end of September remained.
However, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has stated that it remains confident that all the ICC deadlines will be met.
"There is absolutely no doubt the work would be completed in due time," Hassan said. "The government had started work late in Sylhet stadium but now it is in full swing. I have seen the work plan and I am convinced that it would be finished," he said. "As for Cox's Bazar, the major issue was the land. Now that we have land we are confident we will meet all the requirements."
Should alternative venues be required, Hassan assured the board members that Bangladesh has enough and there was no need to look outside the country. He listed Fatullah and BKSP (Bangladesh Sports Institute) in Savar, a northwest suburb of Dhaka, as alternatives in case Sylhet and Cox's Bazar failed to meet the requirements once again in August.
"We already have two other venues. For Sylhet we have Fatullah, a full-fledged and world-class stadium which has hosted international matches already. As for Cox's Bazar, we can host the women's matches in BKSP where we have prepared two grounds according to ICC guidelines."
ESPNcricinfo learned last week that Sri Lanka and South Africa were open to hosting the tournament if required.
However Mustafa Kamal, the ICC vice-president and former BCB president, said the ICC board had not discussed any such plans as yet. He echoed Hassan's confidence in relation to Bangladesh meeting the hosting requirements:
"We have just delivered 2011 World Cup successfully. This is not a bigger event compared to that. We had prepared five grounds for the World Cup. We also had the 2014 World Twenty20. In 2016 we have the Under-19 World Cup followed by the World Cup Qualifiers in 2018. We are going to host so many events because we have the infrastructure."
The doubts over lack of accommodation for all teams in Dhaka came after the Bangladesh government voiced a plan to break down the Sheraton hotel in the capital and rebuild it. But Hassan said the government had now assured the BCB that it would put off the reconstruction till the World T20 was over.
"We have the Sheraton, which was supposed to be renovated. The prime minister has assured us that the hotel would be available during the tournament, so we have an additional 200 rooms," Hassan said. "That solves the lodging problem."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo