In an effort to bring back cricket to the Olympics, cricketers the world over have raised their voices in support. Cricket was a part of the Olympics until 1900 where Great Britain won gold after defeating France.
The campaign originally started with the England and Wales Cricket Board suggesting to include Twenty20 cricket in the Olympics back in 2004. The International Cricket Council had then proposed the inclusion of the game to the International Olympic Committee. ICC chief executive, Malcolm Speed had said that they were seeking membership of the ICO and that it was a long term objective. Now, after nearly 4 years, when the 2008 Beijing Olympics are due to start, cricketers hope the game to be inducted in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Former Australian wicketkeeper, Adam Gilchrist, was among the first to support the cause and stated, “I believe the Olympic Games is the vehicle the sport should use” “We have a responsibility to grow our game in new territories and amongst the women of the world. Over the next century, the challenge for all of us who love the game is to spread the word of cricket to parts of the globe that have never heard of it and currently don’t play our sport” He also said, “My sort of suggestion was that we should focus on 2020 (Olympic Games). Obviously it’s a nice fit with the term Twenty20. But I think it’s going to take a bit of time and serious thought rather than just rush into it. So, let’s just throw it out there, see what support there is around the world”
Echoing his counterpart, former Indian Captain, Sourav Ganguly said, “It will help the players to be part of a worldwide movement. Cricket is an exciting sport and should definitely be part of the Olympics”
The movement gained momentum as cricketers like former New Zealand Captain, Stephen Fleming; Sri Lankan Vice Captain, Kumar Sangakkara; Indian coach and former South African batsman, Gary Kirsten; former Pakistan Captain, Younis Khan; and current Pakistan Captain, Shoaib Malik joined in.
Malik said, “It would be great to go to the Olympics and play cricket. The length of a match is a factor which has dissuaded the organizers from considering cricket as an Olympic sport but with twenty20 cricket coming into play things have changed”
The latest to join the movement was Pakistan vice Captain, Misbah-ul-Haq and Australian Captain, Ricky Ponting. Ponting said, “I know my time will be well and truly past if it was to happen. It’s probably a couple of generations of players away” “The thought of any of our kids playing cricket at the Olympics is pretty amazing”
Cricket got the Olympic “recognition status” last year however is waiting to become a part of the games with competition from games like Karate, Golf and Baseball. It needs to be approved by the IOC in 2013 to become a part of the 2020 Olympics.
Cricket Australia Chief, James Sutherland who supports the cause said, “When you think of the Olympics, you also think of the big nations like the US, Russia and now China” “These regions are clearly potential growth opportunities for cricket and we see Twenty20 at the Olympics as a superb vehicle”