Gavaskar: Don't jump the gun, give India a chance to host the World T20

If the situation does not improve by August end, then by all means the World T20 can be shifted to the UAE.

Michael Hussey with Suresh Raina during a Chennai Super Kings practice session in the Indian Premier League. Following the postponement of the IPL, Hussey observed that it would not be possible to hold the ICC T20 World Cup in India in October this year.   -  R. V. Moorthy

The Aussie cricketers have been making waves over the last fortnight. It was Cameron Bancroft who started it by his comment which implied that more than him, Steve Smith and David Warner knew about the ball tampering that raised such a storm. Smith and Warner were banned for two years and Smith was also banned from a leadership role for one year, while Warner was banned from captaining any team in Australia forever. Bancroft himself got nine months but only because he had come out clean and was thought of as not being the brains but only a foot soldier in the unholy saga. Now he has stirred not only a hornet’s nest but rattled the lion’s cave as many former greats came out supporting his thinking that even the bowlers knew what was happening.

The bowlers came out with an emphatic statement denying any knowledge of what was happening and even pointed to the fact that the umpires had a close look at the ball after the incident and didn’t change it. That may be true but then it could also be that Bancroft was caught in the act early before he could substantially change the condition of the ball and so the umpires did not feel the need to change it. The two Michaels, Clarke and Vaughan, were pretty emphatic that the bowlers would know immediately after the condition of the ball was changed as they walk back to their mark, rubbing, polishing and seeing it just about every second. But again the point to remember is that Bancroft was caught early so there would have been little or no change in the condition of the ball. The question is whether they noticed the change in the ball in the earlier games and kept quiet or does their statement cover only that particular episode in Cape Town.

Bancroft has subsequently said he has nothing more to add and so the matter seems to have simmered down but make no mistake the Aussie bowlers won’t hear the end of it during the Ashes series later this year especially from England’s Barmy Army.

Australia’s Cameron Bancroft (right), Steve Smith and David Warner during a Test match. A few days back, Bancroft had hinted that the Aussie bowlers might have known about the ball-tampering in the 2018 Sandpapergate scandal.   -  Getty Images


The other Aussie who made waves but small ones and not one to surf on was Michael Hussey. Oh yes, I know one of you readers is going to exclaim ‘Oh, these Michaels’. Anyway as Mr. Cricket left for home shores he observed that it would not be possible to hold the ICC T20 World Cup in India in October this year. Yes, India is going through a horrific time with the virus spread but there’s still more than four months to go for the mega event. More and more people are getting vaccinated and more and more cities and states are active in trying to control the spread. In a country with a population as huge as India it is next to impossible to eradicate a disease but India in the past has combated successfully the SARS as well as bird flu. While some may argue that those were chicken feed diseases compared to COVID-19, the fact that India had controlled the first wave magnificently does give the confidence that the country can do it again but may take a little longer to do so.

The Aussies had no compunction in going ahead with the money spinning India tour even in cities where they had active COVID cases and again, whether it’s a few hundred compared to hundred thousand cases, the fact is nobody in Australia suggested that the India tour be called off. Not only that, even the Australian Open tennis tournament went ahead despite active COVID cases in Melbourne.

So all that is asked for is a similar sympathetic consideration from all those who are trying to take it away from India. If the situation does not improve by August end then by all means take it to the UAE, the standby location for the event, but please don’t jump the gun now. UAE has shown in the recent past that it can handle big events and will definitely do a great job of hosting it. That should not be a surprise especially to the Aussies as they have seen earlier in the year that even standbys can pack a punch. But please give India a chance as much as you gave your country to hold big events earlier in the year.

That is only fair to the country that pays a substantial part of your annual income.

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