Cricket in Olympics has long been a hot topic among the cricketing fraternity and has re-emerged in the latest round of ICC meetings.
One particular revelation from this meeting reminded me of a scene from Madagascar 2. It goes like this.
So is there any merit in this idea or just totally absurd? We will talk about the history of cricket in the Olympics, the pros and cons, and whether I think it should be accepted or not.
Glance To the Past: A Brief History
Here is a bit of trivia for you—did you know the 1900 Paris Olympics included cricket?
Although cricket was initially scheduled in the inaugural modern 1896 Olympics, it was cancelled due to lack of interest. For the 1900 edition, Netherlands and Belgium pulled out after showing interest, while Great Britain & France sent club teams for the 2-day match.
Eventually Great Britain won by 158 runs with only five minutes remaining on day two. It would take 98 years for cricket to feature in another such tournament.
- 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games: 16 teams, 4 groups, and 50-overs format. The tournament saw teams like Jamaica & Barbados compete independently along with Malaysia, Canada, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Eventually South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand won the gold, silver, and bronze respectively. Yes, South Africa actually won something.
- Guangzhou 2010 & Incheon 2014 Asian Games: Men/Women competitions in T20 format. India declined to send teams, while Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, & even Japan won medals across the two tournaments. Apart from hosts China & South Korea, teams like Maldives, Nepal, and Hong Kong participated.
Pros & Cons
- Women’s Cricket will benefit from expansion to newer teams. One of the stories of the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup was Thailand’s qualification. Imagine how other smaller countries could similarly rise from the Olympics.
- Cricket has the potential to go from a ‘niche sport,’ only played in a fraction of the former British commonwealth to a much broader world audience due to television & media promotions
- Due to a shorter window, the format would have to be a knock-out tournament, which would give more chances to multiple teams rather than the 10-team two month long slug fest known as the World Cup.
- T10 takes about 2 hours to complete, which is a plus for short-spanned 21st century spectators.
- T20 World Cup, ODI World Cup, World Test Championship, & Olympics, not to mention T20 leagues. Too many tournaments will create dilution & overkill of cricket, which could have an adverse effect on the sport.
- T10 in the Olympics would imply making it the fourth official international format. With T20I & Test cricket doing well, this would be curtains for the struggling 50-over ODI format.
Opposition to Cricket in Olympics
Cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics has historically been opposed by teams like England & India. England declined to send a team for the 1998 Commonwealth due to scheduling conflicts with County cricket.
Similar concerns drive the opposition to T20 cricket in the Olympics. Such a tournament would imply having qualification tournaments, which would hamper the T20 calendar and decrease value of the T20 World Cup, which leads to possibly decreasing revenues.
The Verdict: Yay or Nay?
T10 cricket is not the ideal format.
Some people say it is a shortened version of T20. Wrong. It is just an expanded Super Over. Cricket is a game of skills and talent, but T10 may just be a fluke, and nobody is interested in that. No place for bowlers and not great advertisement for cricket.
However, the game has evolved. There was even a time when colored clothing, day-night cricket, DRS, and T20 cricket had doubters.
Of course, technicalities about the format and qualification process can be decided later.
So, When Can We See Cricket in Olympics?
Cricket will be played in the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Only women’s edition will take place—T20, 8 teams, round-robin tournament, and a qualifier for a Caribbean nation. Finally, USA Cricket’s long-term goal has been to host the 2028 LA Olympics, although 2032 Brisbane Olympics is probably a better bet.
Is cricket played in the Olympics?
Cricket was played in the 1900 Olympics, and there are talks to reconsider it for the 2028 Olympics.
In which Olympic Games was cricket involved in a medal event?
In the 1900 Olympic Games, cricket was involved. There was a match between England and France, with England winning narrowly.
Why was cricket removed from Olympics?
Cricket was removed from the Olympics in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics due to lack of interest and infrastructure.
Is cricket a global sport?
Cricket is a global sport played in mostly former British colonies like the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Caribbean islands.
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Image Courtesy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons