Scheduling crunch looms as Bangladesh tour postponed
Australia’s two-match series in Bangladesh, which was to count towards the World Test Championship, the latest series to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic
9 April 2020, 07:43 PM AEST
Australia's proposed Test tour of Bangladesh in June has officially been postponed due to health concerns and travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia's captain Tim Paine flagged 10 days ago that the two-match campaign was "unlikely" to go ahead, and the boards of both nations have agreed it will be impossible to stage the Tests as planned due to the fallout from the global health crisis.
The challenge for officials now is to find a window in the already crammed international calendar to reschedule the series, a dilemma all nations will face in the coming months as more matches across all three formats are postponed due to the virus.
Australia's tour of Bangladesh was slated to count for points in the new World Test Championship (WTC), the inaugural final of which has been penned in for June next year.
Australia face a busy 2020-21 summer that is scheduled to include the ICC T20 World Cup, home Tests against Afghanistan and India, home and away ODI campaigns against New Zealand and a Test tour of South Africa, meaning there is precious little space in the calendar between mid-October and the start of April.
The months of April and May are usually free of international cricket, with Australia's leading players either spending that time on leave or at the lucrative Indian Premier League, which is currently granted scheduling exclusivity by world cricket for much of its annual duration.
Cricket Australia and Cricket New Zealand have also flagged their intention to reschedule the two ODIs and three T20s that were cancelled last month due to the global outbreak.
Boards can reschedule series through bilateral agreement, but the impending WTC final will add an extra layer of complication for nations looking to reorganise Test matches.
"Postponing the tour is regrettable, but I would like to thank the Bangladesh Cricket Board for the open, honest and responsible discussions that led us to this mutually-agreed position," Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts said.
"The health of our people and communities is the number one priority for both Boards and that is reflected in the action we have taken in postponing the two Test matches.
"As we know, the global cricket calendar is very busy but we will do everything we can to honour our commitment to Bangladesh and will continue to work with the BCB on an agreed date."
Paine conceded earlier this month that unless a further scheduling squeeze can be arranged, the WTC final may have to be postponed.
"I hope they don't push it back too far for my sake, that's for sure," said Paine, who turns 36 in December.
"Some series have been cancelled and whether ones going forward are going to be continually cancelled or we're going to postpone them (is uncertain).
"Maybe the players are going to have to go through a period where we play quite a bit of cricket if we want to complete the Test Championship as it is."
The Bangladesh-Australia series is the second WTC campaign to be officially postponed this year, after England flew home from their tour of Sri Lanka last month at the start of the global outbreak.