MUMBAI: The Indian cricket board has expressed absolute shock and surprise over reports of plans being made to host the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka this year.
Soon after the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting last week, when members met via a teleconference but failed to arrive at any conclusion over the immediate future of the tournament, reports of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) agreeing to swap the tournament with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and the latter “agreeing” to host the same began to emerge.
In fact, soon after the ACC meeting, SLC chief Shammi Silva spoke to the media and said that the ACC has agreed to Sri Lanka hosting this year’s edition of the Asia Cup. “We had a discussion with Pakistan Cricket Board and they have already agreed to our hosting this edition due to the present world situation. We had an online ACC meeting and they basically gave us the green light to host the tournament,” Silva was quoted as saying.
‘No decision taken’
The office-bearers of the BCCI have taken “very strong objection” to these reports and have categorically stated that no decision has been taken whatsoever, so far, on the tournament.
“We have no idea where such reports are coming from and we’re surprised how fast these reports travel. The BCCI is clear that no decision was taken at the ACC meeting. The Board (BCCI) is tired of giving out these clarifications. Earlier it was about travelling to Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, and BCCI had to deny it with a statement. Now this,” well-placed sources in the Board told TOI.
‘IPL can’t be a truncated one’
Further, not just the BCCI but all stakeholders in Indian cricket are absolutely clear that should the final word on the postponement of this year’s T20 World Cup come out anytime soon, no other tournament/series will be looked at if it potentially starts eating into the Indian Premier League (IPL) window.
“Let’s be clear about that first. There won’t be a truncated IPL just to host an Asia Cup. Those thinking on such lines are clearly not speaking in India’s interests and the BCCI will not be party to it,” sources added.
The broadcast industry will come into play here and industry executives are in no doubt that when it comes to numbers, nothing’s a match for the IPL. “Even the World Cup in England was a loss-making event for the broadcaster and we’re talking about an Asia Cup here. The IPL is a different beast altogether. Who’re these people who refuse to understand the numbers? It’s in Indian cricket’s best interests to host the IPL. What are we going to cater to? India’s interests or PCB’s interests?” say those who track the industry.
Asia Cup was warm-up for T20 World Cup
Asia Cup, for the record, was scheduled to be played in the T20 format ahead of the T20 World Cup, thereby acting as a ‘warm-up’ for the ICC tournament. “If the World Cup is getting postponed, then why not Asia Cup?” say those in the know.
Similar “theories” have also been going around the prospects of India touring South Africa this year – a theory that is neither true nor practical. “BCCI can’t start denying things that aren’t true in the first place. Somebody starts a rumour and what does the BCCI have to do with it? Start denying rumours,” sources added.
South Africa tour a no-go too
Even the talk of India heading to South Africa in the coming months is mere speculation with no truth to it, as far as BCCI is concerned, say those in the know.
“Yes, India and South Africa were in talks to host a series there (in SA). These talks were first initiated when Graeme Smith took charge at Cricket South Africa (CSA) and came to India in February. But that was then. Covid changes everything,” say sources.
The BCCI had to issue a press release to underline that India’s reported tours to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe were being cancelled. “If these South Africa rumours aren’t put to rest, there’ll be another statement, simple,” sources add.