Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ehsan Mani on Wednesday said he does not foresee the T20 World Cup taking place later this year in Australia as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a huge threat.
Mani’s comments came a day after Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings conceded that the global T20 showpiece seems “unrealistic” as it will be difficult to fly in 16 teams to the country.
“We have had a lot of discussions and the feeling is it (T20 World Cup) would not be possible this year. ICC has World Cups lined up in 2021 and 2023, so we have a gap year where we can adjust this event,” Mani told reporters.
“God forbid if some player(s) falls ill or mishap occurs during the tournament, it will have a big impact and create panic in the cricket world and we can’t take that risk,” Mani, who also heads the ICC’s Finance and Commercial Rights Committee, said.
He said the biggest hurdle in the way of holding the T20 World Cup in Australia this year was that the government there was very cautious about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mani said even if the event is held, it will be in a bio-bubble environment, including empty stadiums.
“Having a bio-bubble environment is feasible for say a bilateral series like Pakistan in England, but it is very difficult when 16 teams are involved,” the PCB chief added.
The fate of the event, scheduled to be held in October and November, is shrouded in uncertainty as several countries continue to have in place, strict travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected over 8.3 million people across the globe.
“I would say it is unlikely…trying to get (teams from) 16 countries into Australia when most countries are still going through COVID spiking is unrealistic or very, very difficult,” CA chairman Eddings said on Tuesday.
Last week, the International Cricket Council (ICC), after a board meeting, said a decision regarding the tournament will be made next month.
The world body stated that it wants to continue exploring contingency plans for some more time as a call of this magnitude needs to be taken after every possible deliberation.
There is speculation that the event is headed for a postponement and the window will be utilised by the IPL, which is currently suspended.
Mani said another ICC conference call is scheduled in a week and discussions are ongoing about the future of the T20 World Cup.
“The thing is the ICC and member boards are stakeholders and then there are the broadcasters as key stakeholders as well. They are looking at their position and what is best for them.
“We are also taking into consideration views of associate member countries who get shares from the event. I expect a final decision in three to four weeks time.”