After a lot of deliberations and consideration, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed its effort to give cricket the necessary push for the sport’s inclusion in the Olympics. ICC is set to start preparations for a bid with an eye on being a part of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics itinerary.

A working group has been put into place by the ICC that will be headed by England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chair Ian Watmore. He will be joined by others from various cricket boards like chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket Tavengwa Mukuhlani, ICC associate member director Mahinda Vallipuram, and USA Cricket chairman Parag Marathe. ICC independent director Indra Nooyi will also be a part of the group. 

USA Cricket chairman Marathe is of the opinion that the arrival of cricket in the quadrennial games will accelerate the growth of the sport in the USA.

“USA Cricket is thrilled to be able to support cricket’s bid for inclusion in the Olympics, the timing of which aligns perfectly with our continuing plans to develop the sport in the USA,” he said

"With so many passionate cricket fans and players already in the USA, and a huge global audience and following for the sport around the world, we believe that cricket’s inclusion will add great value to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games and help us to achieve our own vision for establishing cricket as a mainstream sport in this country,” Marathe added.

Cricket made its maiden and only appearance at the 1900 Paris Olympics. Only two teams competed at the event, with Great Britain taking home the gold and hosts France settling for silver.

"Thirty-million cricket fans live in the USA, making LA 2028 the ideal Games for cricket to make its return to Olympic competition... the sport's inclusion in 2028 would mark the end of a 128-year absence," an ICC statement read.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will also feature cricket and it will be the ideal exhibition to display what the sport can bring to the Olympics. The addition of cricket in the Olympic Games will be a big boost for both the sport as well as the Olympic Organising Committee, said ICC chairman Greg Barclay.

“... we would love for cricket to be a part of future Games. Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future. We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 percent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics,” Barclay said in a release by the ICC.

"The opportunity for those fans to see their heroes competing for an Olympic medal is tantalising. We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games, but we know it won’t be easy to secure our inclusion as there are so many other great sports out there wanting to do the same. But we feel now is the time to put our best foot forward and show what a great partnership cricket and the Olympics are,” he went on to add.

Featured photo : Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP