MUMBAI: The BCCI is all set to once again turn its back on the Asia Cup this year.
The tournament, which was postponed last year because of the pandemic and the global lockdown, is once again in crisis – one that doesn’t just put the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and cricket boards from the sub-continent in distress.
Abandonment of another Asia Cup will result in broadcasters sweating because it puts the highly-rated and financially benefitting ‘India versus Pakistan’ clash out of gear once again. Outside of an ICC event, in the present environment, an Asia Cup would be the only tournament guaranteeing an India vs Pakistan game(s).
Empathy for the broadcasters will mean the likelihood of BCCI making it up for them elsewhere. South Africa’s white-ball series against India which was cancelled in March last year because of the onset of Covid-19; New Zealand’s tour of India, which was scheduled in 2019, post the series versus England; the possibility of India hosting Sri Lanka are potential series / matches under consideration to make up for the absence of a tournament like the Asia Cup.
“Further, the Asia Cup – even if it was scheduled – would’ve probably been played around the same time as the ICC Test Championship final. If India don’t make the final, the industry would’ve preferred the Asia Cup instead. Now, chance of such a thing happening look bleak so it’s a kind of catch-22 right now,” say those tracking developments.
The global battle surrounding the cricket calendar seems to be one between boards trying to retain their marquee bilateral commitments vis-à-vis ensuring their respective domestic circuits either take root or prosper.
The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for instance would like to pursue with its dream of introducing The Hundred at the earliest and be content in the knowledge that its home season – the English summer – remains protected at all costs. “Australia and South Africa had initiated a battle for the Boxing Day some years ago, which Cricket Australia clearly won. That battle may resume, who knows? India will fight to keep its October-November (Dussera-Diwali) window to play at home and ensure IPL gets a larger window (March added to the April-May). These are matters that’ll test the efficacy of the upcoming FTP,” say those in the know.
In the meantime, the Asia Cup not happening is likely to upset the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) more than any other country. The 2019 edition of the tournament was PCB‘s to host, which the Ehsan Mani-led board had decided to first host at a neutral venue (UAE) and later decided to share it with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
“We’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out,” sources add.