Crowds a hurdle for T20 WC: sport minister

Rob Forsaith
The T20 World Cup remains a possibility of going ahead in Australia - but played in empty stadiums

Hope continues to build regarding the possibility of staging this year's Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, with administrators likely to face a call as to whether a crowd-less tournament is worthwhile.

There were fears the COVID-19 pandemic could wipe out the entire summer of international cricket, prompting Cricket Australia to map out a range of schedule scenarios and revenue projections.

But expectations of India being cleared to arrive for a Test series, delivering a much-needed boost of $300 million to CA unless broadcasters successfully renegotiate payments, have grown over the past week.

The prospect of 15 squads descending on Australia for the T20 World Cup in October was almost unthinkable a month ago, but it also remains in play.

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts has flagged August as a likely deadline for a call to be made on the event, with the World Cup organising committee continuing to work after taking a pay cut of 25 per cent.

The decision is ultimately one for the International Cricket Council (ICC), but talks regarding biosecurity protocols and quarantine arrangements are believed to be well advanced.

"I'd love to see an Australia-India Test series this summer and I'd really like to be able to see the World Cup go ahead ... the issue (for the World Cup) is not so much the teams, it's going to be the crowds," federal sports minister Richard Colbeck told SEN on Monday.

"That's one of the hurdles we really have to consider and probably world cricket will look at pretty closely as well. We all know the difference in atmosphere.

"In a team sense I'd like to think we can build some protocols with the cooperation of the sport and players - that's going to be extremely important ... to see if we can make the competition go ahead."

The recent arrival of NRL's Warriors from Auckland shows what is possible, although they were coming from New Zealand as opposed to a range of countries that have suffered far more in the health crisis.

The ICC could possibly have a clear idea regarding Border Force exemptions come July, but it is unlikely that the government will be in a position to give any indication on crowds by then.

Legend Allan Border has declared it would defy belief to host a World Cup without fans, while Glenn Maxwell and other current players have expressed similar views.

The counter-argument is that broadcast revenue will help fund the sport and those national boards without the financial clout of India and Australia.