India has retained the rights to host the 2021 men's T20 World Cup while Australia have been asked to host the 2022 edition. In another significant decision, the ICC also postponed the 2021 women's ODI World Cup which was scheduled in New Zealand between February and March, to 2022. All these decisions were taken by the ICC Business Corporation, the business development wing of the ICC, which met virtually on Friday.
The 2021 event will be hosted in India between October-November next year, with the final scheduled on November 14. Australia, which was originally meant to host the 2020 edition, will now host the tournament in 2022 between October-November with the final scheduled for November 13.
This women's World Cup is the second global event the ICC has been forced to postpone in the last two months due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In July, the ICC Board had deferred the 2020 men's T20 World Cup, scheduled in October-November in Australia this year to next year.
The board had given the nod to the ICC management to create fresh windows for the three marquee global events: the T20 World Cups in October-November 2021 and October-November 2022, and the ODI World Cup in October-November 2023, pushed back from its original March-April window.
How did India retain the rights?
Although it confirmed the development, the ICC did not give any precise reason as to why India had retained the right to host the event "as planned". However, ESPNcricinfo understands the decision for the IBC, which comprises all the members of the ICC Board, became easier once Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings said his board would not be able to commit the support of the Australian government to host the tournament in 2021.
It is understood that Eddings said that although CA would prefer hosting the event next year, it could not guarantee the government's support at this point. Government backing is key to hosting global events, and the ICC needed a guaranteed undertaking from the host board.
It is understood that Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, said his board was confident it would get the Indian government's support, which helped the IBC make its decision to retain India as the hosts as per the original schedule of global events.
Another thing that went in India's favour is that ICC would not need to change its contractual agreements with its commercial partners for the 2021 edition, since it was staying in India. As for the contractual agreements for the 2020 event which was postponed, the ICC will need to rework them for 2022 - but the ICC felt that was more helpful commercially.
This means there will be no global event for nearly 18 months since the ICC hosted the women's T20 World Cup in February-March this year, which was played in Australia. What it also means is that in 2022, which was meant to be a gap year without any global event, there will now be four ICC events.
The year will start with the Under-19 World Cup in January in the Caribbean, followed by the women's ODI World Cup in New Zealand in February-March, then the men's T20 World Cup in October-November in Australia, and be bookended by the women's T20 World Cup in South Africa.
Sourav Ganguly said the BCCI was confident it could get the Indian government's support for hosting the 2021 T20 World Cup while Earl Eddings couldn't guarantee a similar undertaking for Australia, a key point which went in India's favour.
On its part, the BCCI had always favoured hosting the 2021 edition instead of in 2022 as that would mean, potentially, India could host three marquee tournaments within a year: the T20 World Cup in 2022, the IPL in 2023 and the 50-over World Cup in 2023. The BCCI feared such a scenario could hurt its content commercially.
Another unresolved issue, a thorny one, was the ICC insisting the BCCI find a solution to the longstanding tax exemption issue concerning global events in India. Recently the ICC wrote the BCCI saying it reserved the right to take away the 2021 men's T20 World Cup from India, after the BCCI failed to secure a tax exemption for the tournament from the Indian government. The ICC has given the BCCI until the end of the year to resolve that issue.
Setback for Cricket Australia
The IBC decision today will hurt CA in various ways. With the pandemic causing havoc across the world, CA had accepted that it would be impossible to host a global event comprising 16 countries this year.
As early as May, Eddings had sent an e-mail to the Finance & Commercial Committee, a powerful wing in the ICC on which he sits, to say it would be "detrimental to cricket" in case the "cancellation" of the T20 World Cup in Australia this year was "replaced by award of" the tournament in October-November 2022. Contents of Eddings' correspondence with the ICC were reported by the Times of India originally.
In that email, Eddings also said that it was important for the ICC to have certainty about who would host the marquee tournament to ensure member countries benefited financially from the revenue distribution model which is dependent on the broadcasting rights income.
At the time, Eddings suggested that since Australia had "thankfully managed to flatten the (Covid-19) curve" it meant "there is greater certainty of being able to play in Australia in 2021 (which is key to maintaining member distribution)."
Currently Australia has reported over 20,000 Covid-19 cases with less than 300 deaths. India, meanwhile, has the third highest count globally behind the USA and Brazil, with over 2 million cases and over 40,000 deaths. Eddings had said allowing India to host the tournament in 2022 would allow the country to "resolve any Covid-related problems."
The IBC decision means CA will need to dismantle the local organising committee it had originally created for the event and create a fresh structure to host the tournament in 2022. That would also include signing fresh venue hosting agreements with state associations in Australia.
In a media release on Friday, the ICC said that all 16 teams that qualified to participate in the 2020 edition would feature in India next year. For the 2022 tournament, the ICC will conduct a new qualification process which will determine which teams compete in Australia.
While Imran Khwaja, the ICC's interim chairman, said today's decisions "are in the best interests of the sport", Manu Sawhney, chief executive of the global cricket body, said the developments would provide "absolute clarity on the future of ICC events enabling all of our Members to focus on the rescheduling of lost international and domestic cricket."
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo