Saturday, Dec 03, 2022

LA Confident: CWG Has Set Stage For Women’s Cricket At Olympics

LA Confident: CWG Has Set Stage For Women’s Cricket At Olympics

After Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the organisers of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics would be more open to considering cricket.

Women's cricket made its Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham.
Women's cricket made its Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham. AP Photo

New Zealand captain Sophie Devine said that women cricketers had put on a "hell of a show" at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham. (More Sports News)

Now, the target for cricket’s promoters is for the “hell of a show” to go to the city of shows, Los Angeles, for the 2028 Olympics.

Thanks to Birmingham, where eight countries battled for Commonwealth Games glory, women's cricket finds itself at the forefront, as the International Cricket Council (ICC) seeks to join the Olympic movement.

In the build-up to the Commonwealth Games, ICC CEO Geoff Allardice cautiously shared his optimism, saying that the tournament would boost the chances of cricket appearing at the Olympics.

"We have declared our ambition to be involved in the Olympic Games... We are assisting the LA 2028 organisers and providing any information which will help their assessment of different sports with regards to addition to the Olympic programme. But, at this stage, a decision is due next year,” he said.

By the second half of 2023, cricket’s Olympic fate will be known during the IOC session, to be held in Mumbai, a city which is also the seat of Indian cricket.

If the Indian cricket board, the BCCI, truly wishes the sport to be a part of the Olympics, very few will have the power to oppose it. After all, it is the richest and most powerful cricket board in the world.

"Being in multi-sport games, whether it is the Commonwealth Games or the Asian Games or the African Games, putting cricket into these multisport events is good for the growth of our game," Allardice said.

Even with an estimated 2.5 billion followers, cricket remains an unproven punt when it comes to global sporting events. Asian Games are slowly warming to it, and the Commonwealth Games included cricket in their programme for the second time.

From the point of view of the Los Angeles organisers, cricket is still an unfamiliar sport. Its rules are complex, and even a Twenty20 game lasts three hours.

Money matters, though. The IOC may like to sound lofty but like all sports bodies it goes weak in the knees at the promise of sumptuous bottomlines.

Certainly, Birmingham made a strong case for the inclusion of cricket at the Big-O. Cricket was one of the most popular disciplines at the Commonwealth Games.

Devine, who led New Zealand to a bronze medal after defeating England, rightly summed things up.

"It's (women’s cricket) been built on years and years of female players doing the hard yards with full-time jobs," she said. "We wouldn't be where we are today, reaping the rewards, without those females laying the platform, the foundation for us to be here. Fingers crossed, we've got our foot in the door and there's a few more Commonwealth Games and the Olympics too.”

For the record, cricket appeared at the Olympic Games only once. And the ICC made its intention clear then to make cricket a part of the Olympic Games.

It even has a featured page with a stealthily titled, ‘Cricket at the Olympics? It's happened before’, on its official website. It relives that one-off Paris glory from a bygone era.

Now with women cricket showing the beauty of a game that was once chastised to be too colonial, cricket is ready for its Olympic slog. This time, it may be for the long haul.


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