(SATSports) – ICC acting CEO Geoff Allardice is confident the organisation has given itself the “best chance” of delivering a safe Men’s T20 World Cup in full in Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
Initial plans to stage Men’s T20 World Cup tournaments in Australia and India in 2020 and 2021 respectively were scuppered by the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, with the 2020 event pushed back a year and shifted to India, with Australia to host in 2022.
Unfortunately for India, rising COVID-19 cases in the country ultimately forced this year’s tournament to be moved to Oman and the UAE.
Considering India’s glowing record when it comes to hosting major events, the call to move the tournament away from the subcontinent was a difficult one for the ICC but one that needed to be made.
“India is a fantastic host of ICC events and the most recent Men’s T20 World Cup that was staged there was outstanding,” Allardice said on Sunday. “The decision to move the event away from India wasn’t taken lightly.”
Given the number of teams set to play in the tournament and the time pressure to stage the event, having as much certainty as possible was seen as crucial.
“From the time that we postponed the event that was due to take place this time in 2020, our focus has been to deliver the event safely and in full and in the current window. Everything has been geared towards that,” Allardice said.
“When you’ve got global events that involve 16 teams, you don’t have too many opportunities to reschedule. From our point of view, providing a safe environment and one where we get as much certainty as possible for the delivery of the event was crucial.”
This made the UAE the ideal location to host the bulk of the tournament, reducing the need for air travel to just two Group B teams that progress from Round 1 to the Super 12 stage.
“One of the things with the UAE is teams will be staying mostly in the same hotels, they’ll be taking a bus to the grounds. The flight movements will be minimal, it’s really just a few teams from Oman coming back for the Super 12 stage of the event.
“The hotels and the venues here have had experience in running cricket in a bio-safe manner with two editions of the IPL being staged here during COVID. The steps that we took were all to try and increase the chances of the event being staged successfully.
“It doesn’t mean that everything is going to go right but it is certainly giving ourselves the best chance of delivering in full.”
Alongside the logistical benefits of playing in the UAE, Allardice is excited by what the tournament will mean in Oman.
“The UAE has a strong track record for staging international cricket and we’re very excited to see Oman hosting matches.
“Having seen some of the video from the matches over the weekend in Oman, the venue is looking terrific and they’re very excited. It should be a very special occasion for not just the cricket in Oman but for the country as well.”
The T20 World Cup commences on 17 October when co-hosts Oman take on Papua New Guinea.