The ongoing worldwide coronavirus crisis has prompted the International Cricket Council (ICC) to put all immediate international cricketing affairs on hold. Even the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) recently delayed the launch of its entire domestic and international home season. Apart from the annual English County Championship, ECB’s 2020 home season also included the inaugural edition of the much-awaited 100-ball tournament ‘The Hundred’.
According to a report by ESPN Cricinfo, Abu Dhabi Cricket is set to offer the ECB their facilities between the months of October and January. Over the years, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium has been a home of Pakistan Cricket. The stadium has hosted multiple editions of the Pakistan Super League and also hosted one-third of the 2014 Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
The report indicates that Abu Dhabi Cricket’s offer towards ECB is for county cricket as well as for their proposed international cricket matches at home. Since the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government recently announced that certain places in Abu Dhabi would soon be re-opening (albeit with guidelines), the Sheikh Zayed Stadium ground is reported to be ready for hosting cricket with all live broadcasting facilities. It is further believed that Abu Dhabi Cricket governing body will also be approaching other national boards, who are currently struggling with cricket due to lockdown in their respective countries.
The Hundred is a franchise-based tournament which is intended to be played between July 18 and August 16. Eight franchises each from men’s and women’s teams will be taking part in the competition. However, reports in the UK media suggest that The Hundred is likely to be delayed till 2021 if the coronavirus outbreak continues to enforce UK lockdown and impact English cricket in the process. With Abu Dhabi’s reported offer, the tournament could well take place this year itself.
The coronavirus pandemic also forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to delay the launch of the highly-anticipated IPL 2020 season until further notice. The IPL 2020 was originally slated to commence on March 29 with a match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.