The postponement of the ICC World T20 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic was not surprising. R
emarkably, the decision to postpone a ‘marquee’ tournament was met with delight from majority of Indian fans, with many celebrating that they could see their favorite stars in action in the Indian Premier League.
The IPL Governing Council will meet in the next 10 days to finalise the schedule and the location of the tournament, with UAE being the likely host of the tournament and the dates during the September 26 to November 7 window.
Social media exploded with excitement with fans of the eight IPL franchisees celebrating as if the tournament was being played right now. They were betting on which player will steal the show.
There were quotes stating that the “IPL is the most difficult T20 league in the world”.
With so much money riding on the tournament, it was only fair to expect the relief that the tournament will not be cancelled altogether.
However, there was a majoritarian silence on the plight of another team.
This team had reached the 2017 ICC World Cup final, entered the semi-finals of the 2018 World T20 and also reached the final of the 2020 ICC World T20.
Despite coming short in all three events, the India women’s cricket team have established themselves as a force along with the likes of Australia and England.
The postponements of the ICC events, along with no focus on the women’s game is a sad testament as to the odds needed for women’s cricket to still get adequate eyeballs.
No England tour, No Games in India this year
In an exclusive interview to the women’s criczone website, ECB women’s cricket managing director Clare Connor said the Indian team will not tour England for the tri-series involving South Africa due to the coronavirus and the ongoing travel bans.
This would have been the Indian women’s cricket team’s first outing ever since their heartbreak of the World T20 final in Melbourne in March.
However, there is more bad news. According to an Indian Express report, the BCCI informed the Apex Council on Monday that no domestic cricket will be held until December.
Tournaments like the Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and Challengers series have been scrapped and age-group tournaments too will not be played due to the pandemic.
Damningly, not just domestic cricket, but no international games are likely to be played in India in 2020.
All the momentum that was built in the popularity of the women’s game has fizzled out due to the pandemic.
Hope for 2021
The women’s ODI qualification cycle has also been hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The tournament, which was supposed to begin this month in Sri Lanka, has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The next two weeks will determine whether the ICC Women’s World Cup will be held in New Zealand in February-March 2021 will go ahead as per planned.
There is hope that New Zealand will be able to host the tournament as it has achieved great success in containing the coronavirus pandemic.
But, the events from March 2020 till now have presented the biggest challenge yet for women’s cricket to gain popularity.
The ‘celebrations’ of the ICC World T20 postponement due to which it opens the window for the IPL can only be partially justified.
Sports fans have not seen much action and the ongoing series between England and West Indies is like an oasis in the middle of the desert.
However, sports fans and media must also understand that women’s cricket must also be given the same attention as the men for they have also achieved tremendous success.