Tuesday Aug 13, 2019
Cricket could be included in the Olympics in the future with the 2028 Games in Los Angeles being the earliest it can be staged, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) said on Monday.
MCC, the custodian of the sport’s laws, had its World Cricket Committee (WCC) discuss the inclusion of cricket in multi-sports events at Lord’s on Sunday and Monday.
Last played in 1900, the sport’s Olympic return has been on the agenda of the International Cricket Council (ICC) but India’s powerful board (BCCI) was not keen on the idea, fearing it might lose its autonomy and be answerable to the country’s Olympic committee.
“There is still much to be done if cricket is to be included in the Olympics, with Los Angeles 2028 the earliest likely opportunity, and the ICC continuing to work internally to align cricket to pursue the sport’s Olympic ambitions,” the WCC said in a statement.
However, the BCCI is finally set to come under the ambit of the National Anti-Doping Agency, with its compliance paving the way for their cricket teams to take part in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
In June, women’s T20 cricket moved a step closer to featuring in the 2022 Commonwealth Games after being nominated by organisers for its potential inclusion in Birmingham.
Cricket has not featured in the Commonwealth Games since its maiden appearance in 1998 when the South African men’s team won the gold medal in Kuala Lumpur.
“The WCC is pleased to see that Women’s T20 Cricket is likely to be included at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, having supported this in their last meeting in March,” it added.
“Cricket is also due to return to the Asian Games at Hangzhou 2022, likely again to be in T20 format. Including cricket at Hangzhou 2022 is the perfect opportunity to showcase the sport to the market in China.”
The MCC has played down calls for neutral umpires to be replaced in Test cricket after Joel Wilson's decisions in the first Test between England and Australia came in for widespread criticism.
West Indian umpire Wilson had eight decisions overturned by players from both teams at Edgbaston, while his fellow umpire Aleem Dar also made several errors in the Ashes clash.
Many observers claimed the best umpires in the game should be on duty for what remains cricket's highest-profile Test series, regardless of whether they were born in England or Australia.
"I think the feeling is still that neutrality works. Unfortunately, there is still quite an imbalance in the ICC elite panel," said John Stephenson, head of cricket at MCC, the guardians of the sport's laws.
Currently, seven of the 12-strong elite panel hail from England or Australia and it appears investing more in raising the umpiring standard across the globe is a preferable option to ending a ruling dating back to 2002.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who sits on the committee, brought the issue to the table during a two-day meeting at Lord's.
"It was a bit of a focus during the last Test match and Ricky mentioned the possibility of bringing back non-neutral umpires," Stephenson added.
"It's probably a good time for the base to be broadened, maybe something should be done to train up more umpires to get them to elite level around the world."