Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings believes it is "unlikely" and "unrealistic" that the Men's T20 World Cup will take place in Australia as scheduled this year. The fate of the tournament, scheduled between October 18 and November 15, is being deliberated fiercely by the ICC Board which last week deferred to take the final call.
The ICC has continued to remain optimistic despite the growing likelihood of the tournament being postponed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. After the ICC Board meeting convened to discuss contingency planning last week , ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney had said that there was only "one chance" to make the decision and it needed to be the "right one" which he said would be arrived at after consulting all stakeholders, from the broadcaster to the players.
Eddings, who sits on the ICC Board, though, felt time was running out. He pointed out that with many of the 16 participating countries still under the grip of the pandemic it was "very, very difficult" to stage the tournament and said that CA had presented different options to the ICC Board for the tournament to be moved.
"I sit on the ICC and we're having meetings as we speak," Eddings said on Tuesday. "It's a bit of a moving feast at the moment. I'd say it's unlikely, while it hasn't been formally called off this year or postponed, trying to get 16 countries into Australia in the current world where most countries are still going through Covid-19 spiking, I think it's unrealistic or would be very, very difficult. We've put forward a number of different options to the ICC we're working through at the moment."
This is the second time in the last month Eddings has asked the ICC to consider postponing the T20 World Cup. Last month, he addressed an email to the ICC's Finance & Commercial Affairs Committee, proposing Australia and India swap hosting the tournament over the next two years. Contents of Eddings' correspondence to the ICC were reported by the Times of India recently.
Eddings suggested that Australia host the event in October-November 2021 and India stage the tournament a year later in 2022. Doing that, Eddings said, would financially help all the member countries. If not, Eddings said it would be "detrimental to cricket" in case the "cancellation" of the World Cup in Australia this year was "replaced by award of" the tournament in October-November 2022.
Last month Kevin Roberts, who was sacked by CA as chief executive on Monday, had pointed out that there was a "very high risk" of the T20 World Cup taking place in October-November. Roberts, though, had indicated the "implications" of postponing the tournament were not straightforward and the ICC was "juggling a lot of balls" as it was "looking at the windows that are possible over the coming year."
One of those windows, as ESPNcricinfo reported could be moving the Men's T20 World Cup at the back of the Women's ODI World Cup which is scheduled in New Zealand for February-March 2021. In case that happens, the women's tournament would need to be advanced to January in order to fit in the men's edition. Doing that would help the ICC and CA retain the local organising committee for the Men's T20 World Cup to continue and smoothen the logistics and costs.
Nick Hockley, CEO of the T20 World Cup local organising committee, and appointed as Roberts' temporary replacement, said CA would be ready for any eventuality including the tournament being postponed. "There's a huge amount of work going on around [T20 World Cup] contingency planning," Hockley said on Tuesday. "I think there's meetings coming up next month at ICC level where some decisions will be made and we've got a fantastic local organising committee who are busy preparing for every eventuality and the decision that will come forth."
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo