In normal times, international cricket would be gearing up for the year's marquee event; the 16-team T20 World Cup in Australia scheduled to start on October 18.
That planning and itineraries could mean little in a world ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic as the International Cricket Council's board that meets on Monday is expected to finally announce its postponement.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is waiting anxiously for such a decision because it can then stage the postponed IPL that is worth R4,000 crore annually in October-November, the only window left this year.
The Indian board's clout alone may not dictate that decision. The world body has waited for long, even when Australian cricket bosses said hosting 16 teams amid the pandemic would be difficult. In ICC's last statement, CEO Manu Sawhney said "we want to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to make the right decision for the whole sport."
Now, with a surge in coronavirus cases in Victoria and New South Wales, and a delay in the start of the parliament session, Australia appears in no position to allow crowds into sporting venues, as it had announced. Without gate receipts, Cricket Australia (CA) does not see value in staging the event. CA has already written to ICC that it would prefer a postponement to next year with 2021 edition planned in India moved to 2022.
CA will not be able to make revenue from hospitality and at the same time, huge sums will need to be spent in creating a bio-secure bubble. The challenge of flying in the teams and managing their training and stay appears a logistical nightmare. That means the wait for Papua New Guinea, Oman, Netherlands, Namibia and Scotland—they have made it to Round 1—to qualify and compete with the top 12 will get longer.
If ICC does take the tournament off this year's calendar, it will have to rearrange its World Cup calendar. BCCI wants Australia's edition, if postponed, slotted in 2022 and leave it to host the T20 World Cup as scheduled in 2021.
"It's a call ICC has to take. But remember, the 2023 ODI World Cup is also in India. You can't have back-to-back World Cups in India," a BCCI official said.
There will also be a discussion on the process and timeline for electing the ICC chairman, to succeed Shashank Manohar. England cricket board chairman, Colin Graves, is considered favourite to replace him.