In what seems as a welcome move, a group of English counties have come forward to host the remainder of the Indian T20 League 2021 season in September this year. The Indian T20 League was indefinitely suspended on 4th May as a result of multiple COVID-19 cases inside the bio-bubble.
The MCC, Surrey, Warwickshire and Lancashire, with headquarters based at Lord's, The Kia Oval, Edgbaston (Birmingham), and Emirates Old Trafford (Manchester) respectively are a part of the group who have put forward the proposal to the ECB inviting them to extend the opportunity to the BCCI. This move may see the tournament being completed in about two weeks time later in September.
The topic will be raised at a virtual ICC meeting of the national chief executives scheduled for May 6.
The counties pitch that not only will this help in the completion of the tournament, this will also ensure the players to be a part of competitive cricket just as they head into the T20 World Cup and ensure that the pitches for the T20 World Cup in the UAE remain fresh, in case it is shifted from India. Additionally, it opens up the UK market further from an Indian T20 League point of view.
However, in its meeting on Tuesday, the BCCI haven’t discussed the England option and not much clarity has been seeked into it.
The counties hope the games could be played in front of full-house crowds - though this is also a possibility if the tournament takes place in the UAE - with two (or possibly even three) games being played on each day. There would also be no gap between the group stage and knock-out games.
Numerous challenges still exist for this plan. It is extremely difficult to predict the pandemic course and there is quite a bit of time for any decision to be taken on the T20 World Cup to be held in India. Add to that, the various quarantine protocols for the players to be brought from around the world into the UK. A lot of Indian players are likely to be in the UK at the time for their Test series with England but it could prove to be a challenge in case of other international players.
Also, there are other challenges as per the existing schedule. The England-India Test series concludes on September 14 and England are then likely to tour the subcontinent for white-ball series against Bangladesh and Pakistan in October. Other teams have international commitments to take care of around the same time frame but including the potential quarantine period, the final weeks in September remain a possibility.
The counties are of the opinion that a window could be squeezed in with some flexibility to accommodate the tournament as per their request.
Featured Image: AFP/ Manjunath Kiran