Geoff Allardice, the interim CEO of the ICC, has confirmed that the council has ‘back-up plans’ in mind for the WT20 should the Covid situation in India worsen, but asserted that the situation is far from alarming. India, experiencing a second Covid wave, are scheduled to host the WT20 in October.
A second wave of Covid-19 hitting India - the country registered over 1 lakh confirmed cases on April 6th - has left many wondering if it would be feasible for the country to host the 2021 World T20, particularly with a Covid-cloud currently looming over the IPL. The 2021 edition of the IPL is set to kick-start in two days’ time, but a host of players and staff testing positive have incited fears that the tournament could meet the same fate as the Pakistan Super League, which was halted abruptly due to an outbreak in the competition.
How the situation in India will be six months from now remains to be seen, but the interim CEO of the ICC, Geoff Allardice, confirmed that the council has back-up plans should the Covid situation in the country not improve. Allardice, however, also made it clear that the ICC are far away from pressing the panic button, and are currently confident of India hosting the WT20.
"Yes, we have [back-up plans]," Allardice said in an interaction with select media agencies on Wednesday, reported ESPNCricinfo.
"But at this stage we haven't activated those plans, because we are preparing to go ahead with the event in India as scheduled. We're working with the BCCI and different elements of that event at the moment, but we do have back-up plans that can be activated when the time's right."
The 2021 World T20, a 16-team tournament, is scheduled to take place in October and November this year, and thus Allardice insisted that the ICC are not ‘anywhere near’ the timeline of opting to move the tournament away from India. The ICC’s interim CEO insisted that the council’s sole focus is currently on the World Test Championship Final that will be played in Southampton in June.
"We're not anywhere near that timeline yet. We've certainly got a number of months to be able to see how the situation is and how cricket events are being run. We've obviously got our World Test Championship final which is coming up in a couple of months too. [It's] one match and two teams, but it's still got its own challenges. We're proceeding with both as planned at this stage."
Since the restart in mid-2020, Cricket has been played in secure bio-bubbles and thus vaccination of players has been an idea that has been thrown about - to not just put an end to bubble life but also curb the spread of virus amongst athletes. Allardice supported the idea of vaccinating players but conceded that, ultimately, the ICC does not have the power to demand governments to give vaccine shots to cricketers.
"I think our medical committee and our board are recommending that participants should be vaccinated wherever possible, but I think the dynamic in each country is going to be different, both with the supply of vaccine or the availability of vaccine, and where sportspeople or international sportspeople might be in the queue to receive those vaccines," he said.
"The ICC wouldn't be able to influence anything like that at a national level, but our overall message has been, we recommend that participants coming to our events in the future are vaccinated wherever possible."