The ICC are expected to confirm in the coming days that the T20 World Cup will be moved to the UAE because of the Covid situation in India.
Sourav Ganguly, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, was quoted on Monday as saying they had “officially intimated” to the world governing body the tournament could be moved.
India will retain hosting rights to the competition, and thus take a large slice of the revenue, but the matches will be played in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Neither the ICC nor the Emirates Cricket Board have commented on Ganguly’s statement, or the widespread reports that the decision has already been made.
However, it has been widely accepted for some time that the competition would be relocated to the Emirates.
The ICC themselves stated at the start of June that planning was already underway to that effect.
The venues of the UAE have been on stand by for the event since the 2020 IPL took place entirely in the country.
India attempted to go ahead with the 2021 season of the IPL at home. But as soon as that was suspended as the second wave of Covid cases hit India, it became clear the World Cup would need to be shifted.
On Monday, India reported 46,148 new infections. The country's total Covid caseload is now over 30 million, while total fatalities are nearly 400,000.
Although the decision has been made in principal to play the World Cup in the Emirates in October and November, a number of details remain to be finalised.
It has already been confirmed the remainder of the IPL season will also be played in the UAE in September and October.
Between the two competitions there will be in excess of 70 matches, and thus a vast amount of traffic on the three main grounds, in Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, as well as the various practice facilities.
As such, the ICC pointed out back at the start of June they were also exploring the option of one other venue in the Middle East, to ease the burden on the playing facilities in the UAE.
That was understood to be Al Amerat, where the Oman Cricket Academy have two well-appointed ovals which have staged one-day and T20 internationals in the recent past.
However, the viability of that plan is problematic for a number of reasons. Primarily, there is the issue of cross-border travel and the Covid situation.
Entry into Oman is strictly limited at present, events are banned, while the country reported a record number of deaths related to Covid this weekend.
The country’s health minister also warned that the medical system could be overwhelmed if the influx of patients continued to rise.
From a sport perspective, it is also questionable whether the ovals in Al Amerat could host significant numbers of supporters.
Although the venue is seen a potential host for the preliminary round matches, which would involve low-key matches.
However, Bangladesh – in particular – would attract substantial interest. The ground in Al Amerat has no permanent spectator seating.
A solution could be a new ground in Abu Dhabi, adjacent to the main Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Abu Dhabi Cricket have been upgrading one of their two outside ovals. It will have grass banks with a capacity for around 12,000 spectators, as well as five pitches suitable for TV broadcasts.
It is understood the venue is being readied with a view to staging Test matches in future. However, it could also be ready to help offset the weight of matches in the T20 World Cup, specifically for the preliminary round.