The Executive Board meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) passed every proposal that was the brainchild of its CEO Manu Sawhney, who faces uncertainty over his future at the ICC. The proposals include the board's mandate to bid for global events, with 2028 likely to witness two major global events – T20 WC and potential Olympic competition.
The original proposals by Sawhney had met with a lot of resistance from many boards, including from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), but at the end of the day, the resolution of eight in eight (actually more) was adopted by the ICC board.
The ICC directors and officials Cricbuzz spoke to say a whole range of measures will be under consideration before the ICC decides on a venue and one of the considerations, the ICC directors concede, will be financial. “One of the many measurements is financial – although it is not the only factor,” a source who attended the meeting on Tuesday (June 1), said. The venues for the eight global events in the next cycle between 2024-31 will be finalized by September on the basis of these bids. The process of bidding is about to be set in motion.
Geoff Allardice, who is acting in the absence of Sawhney, said, “The revised approach to selecting hosts for our events will give us much more flexibility to grow the game and engage new fans. There is a smaller pool of countries with the infrastructure needed to host our senior Men's events which narrows the selection process.”
Nine India games in World Cup
Another major decision was increasing the number of teams for the ODI World Cup – in 2027 and 2031. It was a perfect balancing act in which the number of teams, as has been widely demanded, has gone up to 14 but at the same time, the core idea of more World Cup games for India, the biggest money-spinner at the global level, remained unchanged. Unless there is an unforeseeable turn of events like in 2007, the Indian team will get to play a minimum of nine games (assuming India qualify past the group stage which will involve six games) before the knockouts.
As per the ICC, the World Cup format will have two groups of seven teams – six matches for each team — with the top three qualifying for the Super Six stage where they will play three more games. The format was used for the 1999 and 2003 World Cups in England and South Africa respectively.
Back to 2028, the Olympic year
Coming back to the Olympics, the ICC could be hard-pressed for answers seven years on when it gets its Olympic berth at the Los Angeles in 2028. As per the approved events, a T20 WC is already slotted for the year. How the balancing will take place is premature to predict but Cricbuzz understands that the ICC will recommend eight countries for the Olympics and the T20 WC will, anyway, have 20 teams.
Debate over World Cup venue
Cricbuzz has learnt that there was a serious and prolonged debate over the venue for this year's T20 WC. Some ICC members, apparently wary of travelling to India, insisted that the UAE be announced as the venue at the meeting itself but the BCCI, represented by president Sourav Ganguly, insisted that a decision must be deferred, as per the board's recent Special General Meeting resolution. In the end, the ICC directors relented but they have ordered a search for new venues in UAE for the T20 WC.
Two ICC Academy grounds – just about a few kilometers from the Dubai stadium and the ground adjacent to Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi — could be considered. These grounds have hosted qualifying matches in the past.