How the fate of the T20 World Cup could impact on UAE cricket

The ICC meet on Wednesday to decide what should happen to the tournament planned for Australia later this year and how it could effect the rest of the cricket calendar

When the ICC meet via teleconference on Wednesday, there is one pressing item on the agenda: the fate of the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

Whether it is postponed or not, the decision is likely to have ramifications for a variety of other events.

Here is what could be affected, and how it might impact UAE cricket.

T20 World Cup (currently scheduled for October 18-November 15)

This is the most pressing issue facing the ICC: whether to proceed, as planned, with the World Cup in Australia, or to postpone to 2021, or even 2022.

The decision might have been finalised by now. It was deferred, though, after an email from Cricket Australia suggesting a postponement as the best course of action was leaked.

The ICC meeting at the end of last month instead centred on the issue of confidentiality, rather than events planning.

Australia has made significant progress dealing with the pandemic, with sport already benefitting.

For example, 2,000 spectators will be allowed in to watch an Aussie Rules football match at the Adelaide Oval this weekend.

However, the idea of 15 teams travelling in from overseas to play in the World Cup still presents challenges.

And there is also a financial hit to consider if the matches can only go ahead with a limited number of spectators present.

KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL - APRIL 03:  The West Indies lift the ICC World T20 trophy after winning the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 Final between England and the West Indies at Eden Gardens on April 3, 2016 in Kolkata, India.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Indian Premier League (TBC)

The UAE has made it known its venues would be available for any major cricket – from the IPL to English county matches – should the conditions be suitable later this year.

If the T20 World Cup is postponed, it is possible the IPL could be played in that window. But the IPL is surely scarcely less of a logistical challenge than having 16 teams playing a World Cup?

Maybe UAE would be in a position to offer an accessible and bio-secure alternative – as has been mooted – and be able to stage matches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Those venues were sold out for 19 out of 20 matches when IPL last came here, in 2014, when part of the competition clashed with elections in India.

Much has to change between now and then for it to be possible that fans would be permitted to attend.

Dubai Sports Council are hosting a forum, also involving Dubai Police and officials from the European Tour, on Wednesday to discuss the safe return of supporters to sports events.

Mumbai Indians cricket captain Rohit Sharma celebrates after winning the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 final cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on May 12, 2019. (Photo by NOAH SEELAM / AFP) / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-----

Asia Cup (September)

India won the Asia Cup in Dubai in 2018, and it would likely return to the UAE – if it goes ahead at all. The Pakistan Cricket Board have hosting rights.

It is unrealistic to think the Asia Cup could be staged at the same time as the IPL.

The competition is a money-spinner for Asian cricket, but its earning potential would be dramatically reduced if India were absent.

At present, it is pencilled in for the end of September, played in the 20-over format as a precursor to the World Cup.

The Asian Cricket Council met via video conference on Monday,

although a decision was not taken.

“The board emphasised the importance of holding the Asia Cup 2020,” the ACC said in a statement.

“In light of the impact and consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, possible venue options for the Asia Cup 2020 were discussed, and it was decided to take the final decision in due course.”

Indian batsman Dinesh Karthik (C) plays a shot as Afghan cricketer Mohammad Shahzad (L) looks on during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on September 25, 2018. / AFP / ISHARA S.  KODIKARA

Asia Cup qualifier (August)

Clearly, this is wholly dependent on the main event going ahead as scheduled, but it directly affects the cricketers of the UAE.

UAE won the first phase of qualifying in their last assignment before the suspension of sport because of coronavirus.

That earned a place in a four-team competition, scheduled for August in Malaysia. The top side from UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuwait would advance to the main competition.

That does not seem viable, given the travel restrictions in place across Asia.

One possible solution would be to switch the competition to the week before the main event. That was the case the last time it was played in the T20 format – and the last time UAE qualified – in Dhaka in 2016.

Again, that assumes both the main competition is going ahead, and the hosts – presumably UAE – would be able to accommodate a bio-secure event at that stage.

Pakistan Super League (TBC)

The PSL is currently on pause having reached its knock-out stage.

Organisers did their best to get the 2020 season finished, first by playing matches behind closed doors, then by altering the format for the playoffs to speed up the schedule.

It finally succumbed to the pandemic, though, when Alex Hales – who had already returned home to the UK by that point – reported to his Karachi Kings franchise that he had Covid-like symptoms.

There is still the intention to finish the matches, rather than just give the title to Multan Sultans, who finished top of the league phase.

Dates in November and December have been discussed, with the idea to restore the original qualifier, eliminator, final format – as opposed to the semi-final then final method.

That would likely require around one week. UAE has been discussed as a possible host, dependent on the prevailing health and travel conditions.

epa08279536 Ben Dunk of Lahore Qalandars plays a shot during Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 series match, against Karachi Kings, in Lahore, Pakistan, 08 March 2020.  EPA/RAHAT DAR

Abu Dhabi T10 (November 19-28)

The 10-over league has proved adept at rolling with challenges in its three-year history to date.

Last season, that included being denied the services of all Pakistani players, on the eve of the competition.

The likes of Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Amir, et al, are among the biggest crowd-pullers in this country.

Yet they were withdrawn, despite initially being granted permission to play.

In their absence, the first season at Zayed Cricket Stadium was still a success, with the stands packed to see Maratha Arabians win the final.

The 2020 season is already inked in, with it set to start four days after the scheduled conclusion of the T20 World Cup.

If a rejig to the schedule elsewhere means the T10 has to go ahead at the same time as the IPL, that could be problematic.

There might enough star players to go around, especially if Pakistan’s players are let back in.

But contesting for eyeballs from the Indian broadcast market, which the league progressed with last season when Yuvraj Singh played, might prove tricky if the IPL was on the other channel at the same time.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - November 24, 2019: The Arabians celebrate winning the final between the Deccan Gladiators and the Maratha Arabians in the Abu Dhabi T10 league. Sunday, November 24th, 2017 at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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