The coronavirus pandemic has stalled cricketing activity all over the globe ever since March. Two months later, plans have been formulated and a blueprint has been charted for the resumption of the game.
Already, the ICC technical committee, headed by Anil Kumble, has made a big decision by barring players from using saliva to shine the ball and only using sweat for health reasons.
With the ICC discussing the technical blueprint for cricket in a post-COVID19 world, the meeting on May 28 could chart the new course for cricket, especially with regards to bilateral series and major ICC events.
The ICC board meeting on May 28 is very important for cricket, the fans, broadcasters and every media entity as to what the new schedule will be as cricket aims to make a return.
Postponement of 2020 World T20 a must
In the past, in the battle between the purists and T20 exponents of cricket, there were two arguments. The purists argued that 20-20 cricket will destroy Test cricket or cricket. The modern exponents stated that T20 was the future. When the coronavirus pandemic stalled cricket, a meme went around stating that 2020 would destroy cricket. In a dark sense, the purists were right.
The ICC is facing an unprecedented situation as a pandemic has stalled sport with a return uncertain. The coronavirus has forced the world to adopt a ‘new normal’, meaning social distancing, following strict health guidelines and no mass assembly will be enforced.
All these go against the very grain of major sporting events, where there is no such thing as social distancing and the splendor of the event is incomplete without a large group of fans.
The May 28 meeting must be used by the ICC to declare that the 2020 World T20 in Australia will be postponed to 2022 and that the 2021 World T20 in India will be the first major ICC event post the pandemic when it comes to men’s cricket. In place of the ‘postponed’ World T20, the Indian Premier League, which has also been suspended indefinitely can take it’s place.
Satisfaction all-around for ICC and nations
The move to postpone the ICC 2020 World T20 to 2022 will yield massive benefits for the ICC, member nations and broadcasters. Let us make no bones about the whole situation. The broadcasters have a massive say obviously because there is plenty of money at stake. If the World T20 is postponed and the IPL comes in place, then it will be a win-win situation.
The BCCI is staring at a loss of close to Rs 4000 crore if the IPL is cancelled. For even a behemoth like the BCCI, it is a massive financial loss. With recreational and international cricket all but ruled out in England with the coronavirus claiming over 30,000 lives, player fitness, safety and availability will be a key.
If the IPL takes the slot of October-November, and that the coronavirus pandemic is kept under a modicum of control, then the BCCI can recover it’s expenses. It will also put a lot of money into the other Boards as they aim to make a financial recovery after the coronavirus threat subsides. By that period, most countries would have significantly eased their travel bans and player availability will also not be in doubt.
In the words of bowling coach Bharat Arun, the players need a minimum of six to eight weeks preparation in order to get to peak fitness for a major tournament. India head coach Ravi Shastri has said resumption of bilateral series instead of an ICC event will help the players immensely. His argument that teams would settle for one team flying in and playing an entire bilateral series at one or two grounds is effective.
If the IPL takes place now and the major men’s ICC event is the 2021 World T20 in India, then cricket can recover lost time both financially and also with regard to fans. India is the power-centre when it comes to cricket and utilizing these two aspects should be at the forefront when the ICC makes the decisions on May 28. The decisions on May 28 will go a long way in cricket being salvaged.