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Cricket’s Olympic pitch – The New Indian Express

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CHENNAI: When the United States of America first hosted the Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904, cricket, which was initially scheduled to make its debut at the Paris Games four years ago, was dropped from the list of events. .

122 years later, as the US gears up to host the ninth Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028, the discussion about including cricket in the event has resumed and is only getting stronger.

Especially after the success of the women’s crickets’ inclusion in the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

While the International Cricket Council has spoken out in recent years for this to happen, recent events are only adding to it.

“We have expressed our ambition to be involved in the Olympic Games,” said ICC CEO Geoff Allardice recently after the annual ICC AGM in Birmingham.

We are assisting the organizers of LA 2028 and providing all the information will assist them in assessing different sports related to inclusion in the Olympic program. But at this stage, a decision has to be made next year,” he added.

The biggest advantage of the CWG is the turnout in the final between India and Australia, where 17,000 fans filled Edgbaston stadium and recorded the highest turnout for a neutral women’s international match in England.

While the numbers are record-breaking, it’s no big surprise. For starters, it happened in a major cricket playing country.

Second, the final was seen in India, a cricket fanatic country with a huge diaspora around the world. The last time that happened, 86,174 came to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the 2020 T20 World Cup final in Australia. And at the Birmingham Games, a few other CWG nations took part in the qualifiers, with just eight nations making it to the final event.

The Summer Olympics hosted by the US would be a different field. Cricket is not the most popular sport in the country. The American cricketer tries to build a profile for himself in the sport. Their men’s and women’s teams regularly compete in the T20 World Cup qualifiers, but have not made it to the main event so far.

Meanwhile, a world-class cricket stadium and high-performance center is coming up in Grand Prairie, Texas, which is expected to open next year.

As for Los Angeles, the Dodger Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, last hosted the Cricket All-Stars series in 2015.

It saw the sport’s biggest former superstars such as Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Brian Lara and others go head to head in three exhibition matches.

Despite the challenges, it is crucial that cricket wears off its colonial identity and becomes a truly global sport.

ICC’s biggest step in that direction came in 2018 when it recognized all countries’ T20 matches as internationals and hosted a standalone Womens T20 World Cup.

Until then, it was clubbed down along with the men’s events. In the three global T20 events that have taken place since then, audiences and competitiveness have only grown, although Australia has won all three.

The women’s sports market has grown tremendously in recent years and it could only be a matter of time before all governing bodies do their utmost to invest in it.

With the way the players, who are essentially the ambassadors of the sport, more than anyone else, have embraced and responded to the success of the event at CWG, ICC’s deep interest in ensuring that the part of the Olympics is no surprise.

“We heard from some captains (from the women’s team) during a panel session, and they are very excited and I’m sure cricket is a star attraction at the Commonwealth Games, which can only leave us in a good position if we watch it. for ambitions that advance in all other types of multisport games,” said Allardice.

At this time, it is not clear whether the 2026 CWG will have only the women’s event or also the men’s event. Whether the 2028 Olympics will include cricket.

Regardless, the success of cricket at CWG is a big positive step towards making cricket a global sport.

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