ECB will 'extend full support' to Indian Premier League if tournament is switched to UAE

Franchises are already said to be planning the logistics of travel, as well as hotel bookings

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The general secretary of the Emirates Cricket Board has confirmed they will “extend full support to” the Indian Premier League if they do opt to switch the tournament to UAE.

It has been widely reported that the Board of Control for Cricket in India plan to relocate the tournament to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

A six-week window from the end of September to early November is under consideration for a competition that has been postponed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rearranging the event for that time would be dependent on the T20 World Cup, which is currently set to be played in October and November in Australia, being postponed.

It is possible the ICC will decide that during a conference call on Monday, in response to a spike in Covid-19 cases in the state of Victoria in particular.

Mubashshir Usmani, the ECB general secretary, says they are yet to hear confirmation from BCCI, who are also said to be waiting for guidance on the issue from the Indian government.

He is confident, though, that the UAE would be well equipped to deliver the tournament.

Usmani pointed to the fact the number of Covid-19 cases is reducing in the country – 211 new cases were announced on Sunday – as reason to believe UAE will “be one of the safest destinations in the world” by the time if the specified dates.

“Right now, it is all in the initial stage and we haven’t received any official approach from BCCI,” Usmani said.

“There will be some pre-requisites and a plan will be created to follow the protocols of the government. Each council will be approached to take the necessary permissions.

“It is all at an early stage to comment at the moment. We have heard there are dates being considered from September to November. There is still time on that.

“Considering the numbers of Covid cases in UAE is going down, and the situation is becoming more relaxed, we are hopeful that if the BCCI does come to us, at that time we will be one of the safest destinations in the world.”

IPL franchises are already said to be planning the logistics of travel to the UAE, as well as hotel bookings.

Whether the matches will have any fans in attendance seems unlikely at this stage, although Dubai Sports Council – in cooperation with Dubai Police – have undertaken studies into the possibility.

The Sports Council said the city’s venues are ready “to receive audiences and open their gates to fans whenever the relevant authorities make a decision on the matter”.

If the IPL schedule is squeezed into a tighter timeframe than initially planned, the UAE appears well placed to offer bio-secure solutions – assuming there are no fans in attendance.

Abu Dhabi has three international-standard ovals on the same site.

There are also three at Dubai Sports City – the Dubai International Stadium, plus two at the ICC Academy – as well as the country’s oldest cricket venue, in Sharjah.

“Both our [ICC Academy] ovals are ICC approved ovals, and we have hosted international T20 matches at both,” Salman Hanif, the head of cricket at Dubai Sports City, said.

“Both the ovals can host international standard matches, in terms of the facilities, the size of the ovals and the pitches, but it will all depends on BCCI.

“They know our facilities. There will be a high volume of practice requirements, for centre-wicket practices, warm up matches, and lots of things.

“The UAE in general has state-of-the-art facilities, not just Dubai, so we can definitely match the requirements of whatever they need.”