Ash cloud over Europe April 18, 2010

Volcanic ash cloud threatens T20 travel plans

The volcanic ash cloud which continues to close UK and much of European airspace is threatening to have a major impact on the World Twenty20 in West Indies because London is a transit point for many teams through to the Caribbean.

Ireland and Zimbabwe are already located in the region, but Afghanistan's journey has been disrupted and the longer the restrictions are in place the greater the chance of chaos to the travel plans of the other competing nations.

Robert Bryan, the tournament director, said he still expected Afghanistan to arrive in the next few days despite the disruption. "We expect that Afghanistan will arrive here, notwithstanding the volcano dust in Europe, over this weekend."

England could be the most severely impacted side. An ECB spokesman told Cricinfo they are monitoring the situation and will make a decision in a few days time as to the arrangements for the team - who are due to leave next weekend - although there seem precious few alternatives with the nearby European airports such as Paris and Frankfurt also closed. The other issue is that a number of players are currently in India at the IPL and won't be able to return to the UK until the airspace is reopened.

India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh are teams who will be likely to travel through London to West Indies next week, but the latest reports suggest the skies won't clear for at least a couple more days. One option for them could be to fly via the Middle East and then the United States so that they skirt the problem areas in Europe.

Australia and New Zealand will probably be able to avoid the problems by flying via the United States if the issue persists, while South Africa may also be able to use the US or fly direct to the Caribbean.

The advance team from ICC were forced to change their travel plans to West Indies this weekend, while ICC President David Morgan and ECB chairman Giles Clarke will take part in the board meeting via video conference having been unable to travel to Dubai from London.

Tino Best, who has signed as an overseas player with Yorkshire, could have his debut delayed as he is unable to fly from the Caribbean to England. UK airspace is closed until at least 0100BST (0000GMT) on Monday.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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