Despite the global cricket family growing every year with many minnows taking to the game, the ICC seems to be fighting shy to obtain Olympic status for this discipline.
There is a lot of interest among cricket playing nations to see cricket being included as a discipline at future Olympic Games. The most suitable form of cricket to be included at the games, on a common understanding, is the T20 format. But it seems that the ICC’s decision to rotate the Cricket World Cup from a T20 affair to a 50 overs tournament every two years crops up the issue of conducting two T20 tournaments during one calendar year. This is in the event T20 cricket receives Olympic recognition.
How would the face of Sri Lanka cricket change if the bat and ball game receives Olympic status? This tiny island sends a very small contingent of athletes for the Olympics every four years. And during most years, the country’s athletes return home empty-handed, leave alone make any mark at this global event.
Cricket at the Olympics can, however, change all that. This is a sport where the islanders have left a mark in the international sport. And if the sport is included in the Games that would mean Sri Lanka’s skills in cricket will be witnessed throughout the world, rather than by a few Test playing nations. Including cricket at the Olympics in the future is a matter that will be discussed intensely, among other things, at the upcoming ICC Annual Conference which will be held at Edinburg.
Even at the time of writing, there is some hope in the Lankan camp that Angelo Mathews’ boys will pull off the remaining two one day internationals in their ongoing tour of England. This is how good Sri Lanka is at cricket. The Sri Lankans might not be favourites when they play in the international scene, but the plucky manner in which they play the game inevitably attracts a large audience. For the record, the third Test played between England and Sri Lanka at The Lord’s was a sellout.
With the Olympic talk about cricket in the backdrop, there is another vital matter on the cards which will be taken up at the upcoming ICC Annual Conference. Suggestions have been made that ICC transforms from a membership club into an international governing body. This is with the intention of creating one membership class for all countries. These suggestions will be made to an ICC Working Group. Another change suggested to this group is the removal of the clause which allows only the countries with Test status to be full members of the ICC.
This is a time when the ICC is making attempts to clip the wings of the Big Three in cricket, India, England and Australia. It’s good to have a Sri Lankan cricket administrator like Thilanga Sumathipala at the helm of SLC, largely because he has an interest in the international cricket scene and its developments. Sri Lanka should cash in on Sumathipala’s connections in the international cricket scene to ensure that Sri Lanka gets its due place whenever there is bidding to host international tournaments.
The earliest that cricket might be included at the Olympics might be 2024 where the USA is favoured to win the bidding contest. But then the IOC always checks the facilities and involvement of the host nation before it introduces a new discipline to the Games. On this context it is apt to see whether the USA is a cricket playing nation with a solid infrastructure.
For the record the only occasion when cricket was included in the Olympic Games was in 1900. The only cricket match at the Games was played between two teams from England and France.