NEW DELHI: Six months out from the likely start of the Cricket World Cup in India, the match schedule for the tournament is still under wraps as geopolitics cloud the buildup to the showpiece event.
The delay is in stark contrast to the 2019 event, when the dates and venues for the tournament in England and Wales were announced more than a year out in keeping with usual practice for major sporting events.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has previously co-hosted three ODI World Cups and organising the 10-team event in October-November should present no major difficulties for the world’s richest board.
However, soured political relations between Pakistan and India have complicated matters and cricket finds itself caught in the geopolitical crossfire between the feuding neighbours, who play each other only in multi-team events.
India have ruled out travelling to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in September and are likely to play their matches at a neutral venue after organisers agreed on a ‘hybrid’ model — a move that looks likely to prompt a tit-for-tat response.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) denied media reports that it had made a similar demand at the ICC board meetings in Dubai last month but in a statement last week said it may push for the hybrid model “at the proper ICC forum at the right time”.
Should Pakistan agree to travel to India, the BCCI would have to secure visa clearance from the Indian government.
A source with direct knowledge of the deliberations told Reuters that moving matches out of India had not even been discussed and the fixtures would be announced in “due course”.
Cricket news website cricinfo.com has reported that the BCCI has yet to obtain a tax exemption for the tournament from the Indian government, which is part of the hosting agreement it signed with the ICC.
Should it fail to obtain the exemption the BCCI has said the amount could be deducted from its share of the ICC’s central revenue pool.
BCCI Secretary Jay Shah was not immediately available to clarify matters surrounding the schedule but, in an ICC statement revealing the tournament’s brand identity on Saturday, promised to deliver a “memorable event”.
“We cannot wait until October to see world-class cricket on show in the pinnacle event of the one-day game and for India to host an incredible spectacle,” Shah said.
Cricinfo has reported the World Cup will start on October 5 with the final scheduled at the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19.