The path has been cleared, pending government sanction given the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, for the forthcoming India vs Australia Test series to proceed and this year’s ICC T20 World Cup to be pushed off the table.
As outlined in these pages earlier this month, Cricket Australia’s preference for hosting India for four Test matches instead of the 16-nation T20 World Cup has been pushed forward with the board set to announce its full men’s and women’s international schedule for the 2020-21 home season on Friday. Headlining this announcement will be the visit of Virat Kohli’s India for four Test matches, which of course could change should the global coronavirus pandemic dash these plans.
The Australian men’s cricket team – ranked No 1 in Tests – will open the summer season at Perth with a one-off Test against Afghanistan, before hosting India in the most anticipated and lucrative bilateral series of the cricket calendar. This is all pending the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, but the confidence with which CA and BCCI officials have been speaking indicates strongly that we will not see the T20 World Cup in 2020.
The ICC meets today [Thursday May 28] to deliberate on the feasibility of hosting the tournament in Australia as per its original October-November window. All signs are that the T20 World Cup will be postponed, on account of the logistical nightmare it would be. We may not get a final call on this today, such is the scale of this decision. The ICC has already released a statement terming reports of the tournament being postponed as “inaccurate”.
India’s tour of Australia could start on December 3 in Brisbane, where the home team has not lost a Test since 1988, followed by a day/night Test in Adelaide (December 11-15) and the Boxing Day test at the MCG (December 26-30) and the New Year Test at the SCG (January 3-7).
The Adelaide Oval clash would be the first time India and Australia meet in a pink-ball Test, with India having declined on their landmark tour in 2018-19. India have played only one day/night Test, at home versus Bangladesh last November.
All cricket was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While international travel restrictions remains, the BCCI has stated their willingness to send the Indian team to Australia in November and comply with the appropriate biosecurity measures required to make the tour possible.
Where does this leave the T20 World Cup? There could be possible rejigged scenarios in early 2021, but given that the same tournament is scheduled to be held in India in October-November next year, why would the ICC hold the same thing twice in the span of seven or eight months?
Then there is the IPL, which is the most lucrative tournament for the BCCI and its broadcast partner. The IPL is the cash cow the BCCI needs, and so it is foreseeable that the T20 World Cup be pushed back from 2020 straight to 2022.
As it stands, the T20 World Cup does not seem to be at the top of anyone’s priority lists.