ICC confirms Afghanistan to be part of T20 World Cup despite political upheavals


Acting chief executive Geoff Allardice says ICC will likely discuss how to approach bilateral cancellations, and how they affected the WTC

ICC’s acting chief executive Geoff Allardice has confirmed Afghanistan’s participation at the T20 World Cup will continue as normal despite the political regime change that has put the country’s cricketing future into uncertainty. Speaking at a virtual press conference, Allardice also addressed Cricket Australia’s decision to cancel a one-off Test against Afghanistan next month, citing the decision by the Taliban to suspend women’s cricket activities. He said the ICC will likely sit and discuss how to approach bilateral cancellations, and how they affected the World Test Championship.

“Since the change of regime took place in Afghanistan in August, we have been in regular contact with the Afghanistan Cricket Board,” Allardice said. “Our primary function is to support the development of cricket in that country through the member board [ACB]. We have said all along we are waiting to see how things unfold under a different regime in that country. The ICC Board will consider it when they next meet, which is looking like at the end of the T20 World Cup. They are a Full Member of the ICC and their team is preparing for the T20 World Cup. In terms of their participation in the event, it is proceeding as per normal.

Allardice also confirmed the number of DRS challenges would be kept to two per side per innings, a measure brought in last year because of the practical difficulty of arranging neutral umpires for every series. Despite the tournament operating with neutral umpires from the ICC elite panel, Allardice said the same playing conditions as per DRS challenges will be followed.

“It’s very much a country-by-country situation,” he said. “We were able to get all our elite umpires and referees here to officiate this tournament. The UAE is really straightforward to move in and out of. In a number of countries there are still restrictions which make that difficult. Moving umpires in, as individuals, is different to team movements.

“The issue is in other countries which have different levels of restriction. We’ve tried to use neutral officials where the circumstances allow. The umpires from home countries have performed extremely well over the last 18 months and supported by DRS. The aim is to get neutral umpires back once the restrictions are lifted but for now it’s very much a country-by-country basis. We’ve continued with the playing conditions that have been in place for T20Is that have been in place for the past 12 months which is two reviews per team. Rather than treat this tournament differently, we’ve continued with what’s been in place for the last 12-18 months.”

Allardice also dismissed concerns hosting the tournament in the UAE would lead to too many low-scoring games. The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in India, but a rise in Covid cases in the country led to it, as well as part of the IPL, being shifted to the UAE. Since that shift, average innings scores have dropped significantly, leading to speculation about the nature of the pitches that the T20 World Cup will be played on.

“I don’t think it is a worry. The conditions will vary from venue to venue as you would have seen from the recent cricket played there. It is going to be one of the challenges of the event, to adapt to the different conditions which have been presented: some of the recent matches have been high scoring, some have been low scoring across the venues. It is just going to add a different layer of complexity for the teams, but conditions are going to be the same on each match day.”

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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