Cricket’s possible return to the Olympic Games (Part 1)

As mentioned before, cricket was added in the 1900 Paris Olympics, but that isn’t taken too seriously by fans. Why? Well, it was match between two teams, one from Great Britain and one from France, and neither team was even a representative one. The British side was consist of a touring club outfit called Devon and Somerset Wanderers, while the hosts team were consist of players from local clubs. Not quite cricket, some people would say.

There was no cricket in an international event after that till 1998, when cricket – 50-overs a side – was competed between 16 sides at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. Top teams participated, and they consisted of top players, with South Africa talents like Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, and Mark Boucher, among other famous names in their XI – beating the Steve Waugh-led all-star Australians in the final competition.

Again, there was a drought until mid-August that year when it was confirmed that female T20s would take part in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and all matches – between eight teams in an eight-day period – would compete at Edgbaston. That must be seen as a positive update, one that will likely help the sport enter the international arena.

What’s the best format?

It is the prerogative of the IOC-recognised global sports federation – the ICC in cricket’s case – to set qualification criteria as well as competing conditions. However, this has to be implemented in accordance with the Olympic Charter. In addition to the three formats competed internationally, the emergence of T10 – advocated by Shahid Afridi as cricket’s best way to the Olympics – and The Hundred means that the ICC has numerous things to ponder, and enough to pick from. However, having granted T20I status to all members, that appears the most feasible option as it can accommodate maximum participation, which is likely to be popular on the ICC’s agenda.