Cricket is back in the Commonwealth games and here is a look back at the only time cricket was a part of the Games, way back in 1998.
After 24 long years, cricket is back in the Commonwealth Games. Women's cricket is making an entry into the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Even as there are speculations of men’s cricket making it to the 2028 Olympics, the women's game received a shot in the arm with this boost.
But this isn't the first time cricket is part of the Commonwealth Games. 1998 was the only time that cricket was a part of the Games. Held in Malaysia, as many as 16 teams participated in the tournament, with some of them sporting second-string sides. England refused to send a team while West Indies were represented by three different nations - Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda. Northern Ireland and Malaysia also made rare appearances.
The matches were awarded List A status rather than ODI status and the teams were split into four groups. New Zealand had Stephen Fleming and Daniel Vettori while Australia played with the Waugh brothers, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Damien Fleming and Darren Lehmann. South Africa also had a slew of stars in Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, Herschelle Gibbs and Makhaya Ntini. India and Pakistan sent weakened teams owing to the Sahara Cup but Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were still part of the tournament.
The four groups were split based on seeded ranks of the teams and after the group phase, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand topped the four groups. In the semi-finals, South Africa bowled out Sri Lanka for a meagre 130 with Nicky Boje picking up a 4/16. But then they kept losing wickets at regular intervals and at 96/9 were nearly out of the game, before Boje and Alan Dawson dug them out to sneak in a win.
Australia cleaned up New Zealand for 58 with Brad Young taking a hat-trick and went through to the finals where they met South Africa. New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in the losers final to win the Bronze medal.
In the final between South Africa and Australia, Steve Waugh made an unbeaten 90 but Australia only managed 183 as Shaun Pollock took a 4/19. An opening stand of 73 between Hudson and Rindel gave the Proteas a fine start but the middle-order wobbled and they won with just four wickets to spare as Kallis made a resilient 44. South Africa won the Gold medal and Australia the Silver.
While the 1998 event was a 50-overs affair, the 2022 games are Women's T20s and could be a major step for cricket in the Olympics.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Alexander Joe