Cricket

Cricket’s pitch for inclusion in the LA Olympics

Cricket at the Olympics is no longer tantalisingly beyond reach, after the fashion of a delivery from Ravi Ashwin. It is now an eventuality far closer to the likelihood of Ashes hundreds for Steve Smith.

The International Cricket Council has confirmed its intention to mount a formal bid for the 2028 Los Angeles Games, with a bid model that will call for men’s and women’s Twenty20 tournaments, likely to be with eight competing teams in each.

The bid would be as a “city pick” for the LA Olympics, meaning it would also need to be chosen by Brisbane in order to appear again.

The Gabba’s intended use for athletics might force the men’s and women’s tournaments elsewhere in the host city.

“Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future,” ICC chair Greg Barclay said.

“We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 per cent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics.

“Clearly cricket has a strong and passionate fan base, particularly in South Asia where 92 per cent of our fans come from, whilst there are also 30 million cricket fans in the USA. The opportunity for those fans to see their heroes competing for an Olympic medal is tantalising.

“We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games, but we know it won’t be easy to secure our inclusion as there are so many other great sports out there wanting to do the same. But we feel now is the time to put our best foot forward and show what a great partnership cricket and the Olympics could be.”

After making its one and only appearance at the Paris Games of 1900, cricket has long stood at the fringe of the Olympic movement, largely because of the hesitance of England and India to add another event to the schedule.

The IOC has shown increasing interest in cricket over the past 20 years, largely through the fact that it is such an obsession in India – the world’s most populous nation and yet only seldom a factor at the Games. In Tokyo, India ranked 48th on the medal tally with a solitary gold.

English and Indian hesitance about involvement has also curtailed Olympic-tied chances for the game’s development in countless other nations, but the ECB and the BCCI have, gradually, been drawn towards a more supportive posture.

“Once cricket is added in the Olympics, India will be participating,” the BCCI secretary Jay Shah told The Hindustan Times this week. “The BCCI and the ICC are on the same page as far as participation in the Olympics is concerned.”

Cricket Australia, by contrast, has always been a vocal advocate for cricket’s inclusion in the Games, although the preferred format has veered wildly from T20 to indoor cricket and even to beach cricket.

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