Cricket has not been played at the Olympics since 1900, and talks of a return have gathered steam.

The ICC is exploring options to include cricket in future Olympic Games. (Credit: ICC)

Cricket is the most famous sport in India, but on the global scale it has some distance to cover in terms of other sports like football. This is primarily because cricket is still not played in a lot of countries professionally, whereas football – or soccer as it is known in the USA – is the most famous game in the world. Football is played across the globe and and is part of mega sporting events such as the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

Cricket too at some point of time in history has been played at world events but not continuously. It debuted at the Olympics Games of 1900 when only two countries participated, France and Great Britain, and has not returned to the Olympics since.

In 2010, cricket made its first appearance at the Asian Games and then again in 2014, but was absent four years later. In 2019, it was announced that cricket would return to the Asian Games in 2022 when the competition is held in China.

South Africa CWG 1998 Cricket
Cricket made its only CWG appearance in 1998, when South Africa won the gold medal. (Credit: Getty)

Cricket was also played at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur where 16 teams participated. This was a competition in which several cricketing nations sent depleted squads due to the clash of dates with other cricket series, but still viewers in Malaysia got to see luminaries such as Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Steve and Mark Waugh, Curtly Ambrose, Adam Gilchrist, Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis in action. South Africa, led by Pollock, beat Waugh’s Australia in the final to clinch gold.

It has been announced that in the next edition of the Commonwealth Games in 2022, women’s cricket will be an event.

This kind of stop-gap arrangement is not a long-term solution to make cricket more popular and to introduce the sport to countries where it is still not played. This is not the ideal situation for cricket’s re-introduction to the Olympics, CWG and such. All the various organisations which handle such tournaments should speak to the ICC and cricket’s governing body should also show that it is very interested in promoting the game on a broader scale.

I sincerely hope to see cricket being played more at all major global tournaments in the near future.

Written by Sambhav Bhatia

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