By Carlena Knight
Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave says he is still hopeful that the Men’s T20 World Cup can be played in India.
The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is the international championship of Twenty20 International cricket. Organized by cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), the tournament currently consists of 16 teams, comprising the top ten teams from the rankings at the given deadline and six other teams chosen through the T20 World Cup Qualifier. All matches are played as Twenty20 Internationals.
The event has generally been held every two years. However, the next edition of the tournament was scheduled to take place in 2020 in Australia, but due to Covid-19, the tournament was postponed to 2021, with the host changed to India, four years after the conclusion of the 2016 edition.
But currently the status of India hosting the marquee event is now up in the air as covid cases continue to skyrocket from their second wave. The Covid-19 death toll in India has surpassed 200,000, with at least 300,000 new infections recorded every day in the past week.
It was announced on Friday that if conditions do not change in India, the event will be moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Grave says however, that it has been proven through the West Indies tour to England and even now with the Indian Premier League (IPL) that despite the country’s covid status cricket can be played without risking the health of players.
“Bio-secure cricket does mean that you can be playing anywhere, you are not coming into contact with anyone from the home population or outside of that very strictly managed bubble of the hotel and the cricket grounds, so it’s been proven when we went to England in the height of their pandemic and were kept safe in a bio-secure bubble. I am very confident that those IPL players are in a very safe environment locked away from anyone, outside of that bubble. It can be done. We obviously hope that the T20 can go as planned in India and obviously we desperately hope that the covid situation will improve not only there but around the world in the next few months.” Grave said.
He is of the belief that the World Cup will in fact be played behind closed doors in October despite the hopes of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to have some percentage of fans attend the matches.
“I think that would obviously, especially for the T20 format where you know, the fans and spectators are such a big part of the entertainment and the product, but we’ve seen matches with our CPL being played behind closed doors and the matches at the Coolidge Cricket Grounds with Sri Lanka. Even if we don’t have any fans, it can still be a fantastic product and a hugely entertaining event but you know, the great hope would be for iconic events like World Cups but spectators at least in the home territory. I mean, it would be disappointing if you didn’t get away as well, but the least you would have expected some sort of fans in the crowd. But we need the event to take place and if that means you have to play in a bio-secure bubble and behind closed doors, then it’s something we all have to accept,” he added.
The World Cup is scheduled to take place in October. The West Indies are the defending champions.