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Cricket takes a coronavirus hit

England’s Ollie Pope, in action in the third test between England and the West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, UK, in July, as matches resumed behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.
England’s Ollie Pope, in action in the third test between England and the West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, UK, in July, as matches resumed behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

Normally, it's the weather that disrupts cricket, but this year it was something more serious as the coronavirus took hold across the world.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed in early August that the T20 World Cup destined for Australia in October and November would be postponed until 2022, with India hosting the 2021 tournament as planned. The shorter format of the T20 game — 120 balls for each team — has globally brought in huge crowds and extra revenue since it began in 2003.

This was one of many sporting postponements or cancellations in a period that saw the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games postponed to 2021.

Meanwhile, the ICC's Women's World Cup, which was planned for New Zealand in February, is now due to take place there in early 2022, according to the BBC.

However, COVID-19 did not stop a test series — albeit shortened to three matches — between England and the West Indies in the UK in July. Play took place without crowds and with the players living in a bio-secure environment designed to limit the virus's spread.

Cricket has grown into a big business with the IPL (Indian Premier League) generating revenues of $614 million in 2019 — an estimated 32% of global cricket revenues, according to The Cricketer. And while the English Cricket Board announced a record annual turnover of £228 million ($284.7 million) for 2019—2020, it and many other country governing bodies are bracing themselves for what could be a big financial hit this coming year.

— By Oliver Rowe (Oliver.Rowe@aicpa-cima.com), an FM magazine senior editor.