Board president Ganguly says pandemic situation and possibility of a third wave and new variants prompted the move
“It was not an easy decision and we mulled over it for months, constantly keeping an eye on the Covid-19 situation all along,” Ganguly wrote. “However, with the second wave causing such devastation, the decision ultimately boiled down to the safety and well-being of the players and organisers. Although vaccination in the country is going at breakneck speed, there are reports of a third wave and different variants which we cannot ignore.”
While schedules are in the process of being formalised, it is understood that the the first round of the T20 World Cup will be split across two groups and played in the UAE and Oman.
Eight teams (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Namibia, Oman, Papua New Guinea) will compete in the first round over 12 matches, with the top two from each group qualifying for the Super 12s, where they will join the top eight ranked T20I teams.
The Super 12s phase will begin on October 24, with teams split into two groups of six each. These matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. This will be followed by three playoff games – the two semi-finals and the final on November 14.
The T20 World Cup, last held in 2016 in India, was originally scheduled to be held in Australia last year. With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the global cricket calendar though, the ICC postponed the tournament, deciding that India would host it in 2021 with Australia hosting the 2022 edition.
However the grim pandemic situation in India, which forced an abrupt end to the IPL at its halfway stage in May, cast doubts over the BCCI’s feasibility of hosting a global event, where travel between cities left players vulnerable to the spread of the virus.
The BCCI had initially shortlisted nine venues for the T20 World Cup, but an ICC team, meant to carry out inspection, had to cancel its visit in April. In June, the ICC had given the board a month’s extension to make a final announcement of their preparedness.