The Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) season six could clash with the Twenty20 (T20) World Cup, next year, as the International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering the possibility of holding the event in February and March, 2021.
The mega event is currently scheduled to be held in October and November of the current year in Australia; however, the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has made this scenario unlikely.
The T20 World Cup is likely to be postponed to another date. February and March are being viewed as the likely window for the event. New Zealand, which has won the battle against the Covid-19, is also an option to host the event.
New Zealand is already scheduled to host the Women’s World Cup in February and March. If a decision is taken to hold the men’s T20 World Cup in the same window is taken, it could come at the expense of the women’s event.
In case the mega event is shifted to February or March next year, it would clash directly with the PSL. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) would have to find another window for their event in this scenario.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani has said the T20 World Cup in Australia this year seems “impossible” due to the challenges of keeping 16 teams in a bio-secure bubble to limit the risk of coronavirus.
The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) is exploring contingency plans but has deferred a decision on the tournament until July.
“If it is played this year they will likely insist it happens in a bio-bubble,” he said.
“This is okay for one or two teams but when 12-16 teams play in a T20 tournament, it becomes an impossible thing. I don’t think it is feasible today that there is any ICC event in 2020.”
Mani expected the tournament to be rescheduled to 2021, with the edition scheduled for next year in India moved to 2022.
“ICC events were supposed to happen in 2020, 2021 and 2023. The gap in the middle can be filled and this will be deferred,” he said.
“That is where the talk is headed towards. What event will happen first and where, those talks are happening.”
Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings believes it is “unlikely” and “unrealistic” that the Men’s T20 World Cup will take place in Australia as scheduled this year.
The fate of the tournament, scheduled between October 18 and November 15, is being deliberated fiercely by the ICC Board which last week deferred to take the final call.
The ICC has continued to remain optimistic despite the growing likelihood of the tournament being postponed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the ICC Board meeting convened to discuss contingency planning last week , ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney had said that there was only “one chance” to make the decision and it needed to be the “right one” which he said would be arrived at after consulting all stakeholders, from the broadcaster to the players.
Eddings, who sits on the ICC Board, though, felt time was running out. He pointed out that with many of the 16 participating countries still under the grip of the pandemic it was “very, very difficult” to stage the tournament and said that CA had presented different options to the ICC Board for the tournament to be moved.
“I sit on the ICC and we’re having meetings as we speak,” Eddings said.
“It’s a bit of a moving feast at the moment. I’d say it’s unlikely, 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-19 spiking, I think it’s unrealistic or would be very, very difficult. We’ve put forward a number of different options to the ICC we’re working through at the moment.”