While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already been discussing hosting the 2021 T20 World Cup in UAE with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), in a recent turn of events, Sri Lanka has entered the race as the darkhorse to help India host the showpiece event.
Speaking to ANI, sources in the know of developments said while the BCCI officials have been speaking to the ECB officials, there have been talks with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) as well. "See, there is no denying the fact that BCCI and ECB officials have been having discussions on taking the showpiece event to UAE with an eye on the COVID-19 situation in India. But, what also needs to be kept in mind here is that hosting the IPL would mean quite a few games, not to forget other tournaments or matches that might be held in some of the venues and tired wickets by the time of the World Cup.
"Keeping the playing conditions in mind, there have been some talks with SLC officials and just basic discussions to be honest. Too early to get into the details, but we still have some time before we need to get back to the ICC to inform them on the situation as the BCCI will continue to have the hosting rights even if it is played outside India," the source explained. While the UAE has three venues in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka will have a lot many options with Colombo alone having three stadiums. More interestingly, the SLC had also made its intentions known to assist the BCCI in hosting the remaining of the 14th edition of the IPL in the September-October window.
The sources further said the host broadcasters could back India if they do wish to look at Sri Lanka as an option. "See, these are tough times and with COVID-19 it is an ever-changing situation. So, don't think the host broadcasters would mind backing BCCI if they look at Sri Lanka as an option to host the showpiece event. Keeping options open is not a bad thing," the source said. But first, the BCCI will need to inform the ICC about its position with regards to tax exemption for the T20 World Cup. "First and foremost, the BCCI needs to submit the tax exemption guarantee by June 15 and things will start rolling one after the other with the Indian board also needing to inform the ICC by June 28 about the position with regards to hosting the event in the country," the source pointed.
Earlier, the ICC after the board meeting had confirmed that the BCCI would retain hosting rights of the T20 World Cup even if the tournament is moved out of India. The ICC Board had also requested management focus on its planning efforts for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 on the event being staged in the UAE with the possibility of including another venue in the Middle East.
"A final decision on the host country will be taken later this month. The Board also confirmed that the BCCI will remain the hosts of the event regardless of where the event is played," the ICC said in an official release. During the BCCI SGM, it was unanimously decided that with more than four months left for the showpiece event, the BCCI would propose to the ICC to give the body time till the end of June or the beginning of July to take a call on hosting the tournament.