Commonwealth Games 2022: A stepping stone for cricket to be in Olympics

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India Women has been impressive in Commonwealth Games 2022 so far

ICC

Commonwealth Games 2022: A stepping stone for cricket to be in Olympics

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Nishad Bapat

08/03/2022

Cricket has been added for the second time in Commonwealth Games after 1998 but this time it could be the start of the sport’s global journey. The move will benefit women’s cricket and especially the sport as a whole making it popular worldwide for sure.

Women’s cricket has always been craving the spectator's attention just like their male counterparts. Women’s cricket was introduced internationally with games between England and Australia in 1934. Ever since that day, women’s cricket has been taking rapid strides in its development and it has completed a remarkable journey so far. The International women’s cricket council was formed in 1958 to govern the game which emerged under the umbrella of ICC and the game has reaped benefits from it. 

League cricket like Women’s Big Bash League or The Hundred has played role of a catalyst in promoting women’s cricket. 86,174 people flocked to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to witness the final of the ICC women’s T20 World Cup in 2020. It was an indicator of how far women’s cricket has progressed. Fairbreak Invitational 2022 also played a crucial role in providing players from associate nations with a platform. It brought together cricketers from top cricketing nations with minnows and the players gelled together very well. 

In the 1997 women’s ODI World Cup, there were 11 participant teams and the number dropped to eight in the 2022 edition. Considering T20Is, the 2009 World Cup had eight participants while only a couple of more sides were added to the roster for the tournament in 2020. These stats indicate that women’s cricket still needs to expand its global reach. More and more nations should be added to the discipline and its recent inclusion in the Commonwealth Games(CWG) can help the cause. As ICC is aiming to introduce cricket in Paris 2024 the inclusion of the sport in the Commonwealth Games is a progressive step. 

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Australia captain Meg Lanning has vouched for the same saying that the sport’s inclusion in CWG will pave a way for its entry into the Olympics. 

"Cricket in the Olympics would be amazing. Especially for the game as well, to reach a new audience," Lanning told BBC Sport, mentioned in an ICC release.

"It would allow different people to see that game would really help the growth of it in other countries around the world, and particularly for women."

Another factor that will people move taking the sport into the Olympics is cricketers gelling with athletes from other sports and other countries as well. These names will be more familiar within the sporting fraternity and winning medals in such grand sporting events will bring glory to sports. This way it can pave the way to reach the same level of popularity as Olympic sports. Heather Knight’s views elaborate the same point. 

“It is a chance for us as a sport to reach some people we haven’t reached before,” Knight had said in a recent chat with Sky Sports.

“A huge stage to show what we can do. The platform to reach so many people is there, so our job is to be successful and show the skills that we have.”

Whether it is men’s cricket or women’s cricket there seems to be a lack of depth and competitive factor in the sport. You see some limited quality sides playing each other more often and that results in the sport being limited to certain countries. To break this barrier and expand the sport’s horizon globally its inclusion in events like Commonwealth Games and Olympics is of utmost importance. Cricket was first introduced in the 1998 edition of the games earlier in ODI format but the move was not capitalized back then. 

 This time, ICC have a golden chance to promote the sport globally with its inclusion in major sporting events. There might be a barrier in doing so initially as the string teams might take on weak ones resulting in a one-sided affair. However, things will change after some point and we might also see teams punching above their weight. T20Is are the best format for such advertising of the game in these tournaments. As the matches will end in a short span which will allow the scheduling in the allotted time. Overall, the game needs to spread its branches all around the globe to involve more and more countries. 

ICC are considering proposing the involvement of cricket in Paris, as the sport will be more significant with its involvement in Olympics. Soon, there will be more nations opting for the discipline in search of an Olympic medal and it can also lead to more quality side. Also, the move can be helpful in World Cups as it will open the options of adding more countries to the showpiece event. 

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