Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings acknowledged earlier today that the Twenty20 World Cup -- scheduled to be held in the country this year -- is ‘unrealistic’ amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.
The tournament is scheduled to be held from October 18 to November 18 and officials have previously stated that they intend to proceed with the event. However, with many global borders shut due to the travel restrictions in the wake of coronavirus, Eddings believes that the outcome looks very likely.
"While it hasn't been formally called off this year, or postponed, trying to get 16 countries into Australia in the current world, where most countries are still going through Covid spiking, I think it's unrealistic, or it's going to be very, very difficult," he said.
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Eddings also revealed that Cricket Australia presented a number of options to the International Cricket Council (ICC). "The ICC are having meetings as we speak, it's a bit of a movable feast at the moment," he added.
Australia, having managed to successfully contain the virus, has started easing restrictions and will allow crowds of up to 10,000 into sports stadiums from next month. Strict international border restrictions still remain in place. That coupled with limited domestic movement between states creates additional problems for the tournament where forty-five matches are split between seven cities.
Eddings said India's Test tour in December-January is set to go ahead with the Indian team and staff willing to undergo quarantine to enter Australia. "We've had a lot of very positive chats with India, they're very keen to tour," he said. "Now it's a matter of how we get over the hurdles with Covid-19 for them to come into the country.”
However, the management of the T20 World Cup that involves 15 visiting teams and support staff, demonstrates a much greater logistical challenge.
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The most probable outcome may be postponing the tournament until next year but it will depend on the situation of the pandemic and also finding a spot in a crowded cricket calendar.
Rescheduling the World Cup could also have a ripple effect for the Indian Premier League (IPL), that was scheduled in March this year but was repeatedly pushed back.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is desperate to hold the world's richest T20 tournament, even if that means taking it overseas or playing in empty stands. While BCCI has reserved a September-October window for the event, delaying the T20 World Cup would open up an attractive slot later in the year.
Eddings also confirmed that CA’s Chief Executive Kevin Roberts has resigned after months of criticism over his handling of the Covid-19 shutdown.
Roberts had been replaced by interim CEO Nick Hockley, the chief executive of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, and Eddings said the board would commence searching for a long-term replacement.
While it was made clear that Robert’s departure was a mutual decision, Eddings also said that CA wanted a ‘new leadership style’ and a permanent successor would require strong communication skills.
“Kevin and I and the board have worked out over the last three-four months that things do need to change,” Eddings told reporters over a video call. “Kevin tendered his resignation and we agreed. Now we move on.”
Roberts, who succeeded James Sutherland in October 2018 and had 18 months left on his contract, became the third CEO of a major Australian sport to resign after National Rugby League boss Todd Greenberg and Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle.
Roberts played a leading role in the board’s unsuccessful attempt to get players to abandon a long-held revenue-sharing agreement in 2017 prior to taking the top job at CA. Thereafter he often spoke of restoring harmony to player relations but things unravelled after the shocking decision to furlough 80% of CA’s staff in April and tried to slash budgets to state bodies and players, citing the need to ‘proactively’ manage the financial impact of Covid-19.
However, there was widespread pushback of these decisions after it became clear that most of Australia's home season, including a lucrative Test series against India, was likely to go ahead.
While CA has officially declined to detail the reason for their parting of ways, former Australian captain Ian Healy said Roberts had lost the confidence of those involved in the game by over-reacting to the financial risks posed by the virus.
"He's led a panic, a very premature panic, on the pandemic for no great reason and no reason he's been able to explain transparently to the states and the players," Healy told Melbourne's SEN radio.
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