ECB lead push for Olympic cricket
The England and Wales Cricket Board hope the rise to prominence of Twenty20 cricket onto the international stage could result in it appearing in future Olympic Games.
Even though the format has yet to register itself on the world calendar, England will face Australia during the 2005 Ashes summer, at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, in their inaugural international contest and South Africa introduced the shortened form of the game into their domestic fabric this winter.
Such was the success of last summer’s competition here, however, that the ECB made a representation to the International Cricket Council to employ Twenty20 as its vehicle for an Olympic bid - cricket has been on the agenda at a games once before, at the 1900 event in Paris, when Great Britain beat France in the final.
Its popularity in 2003 surpassed all expectations as more than 250,000 spectators watched the tournament - at an average gate in excess of 5,000 - and such was the response of the public that it could reach a wider audience.
The ICC are currently attempting to establish cricket as an International Olympic Committee-recognised sport.
“The ECB is exploring the possibility of having Twenty20 as an Olympic sport,” confirmed chief executive Tim Lamb at thes Lord’s launch of the second season.
“We are aware that the ICC are in discussions with the IOC about Olympic status and we have had a preliminary discussion with the ICC about the possibility of them making the case for Twenty20 to be incorporated into the 2012 Olympics, particularly if London’s bid for that year is successful.
“Or if that is too soon for the IOC timetable then further down the line.
“The ICC have expressed initial interest and a willingness to explore the issue further if there is a clear desire to do so within the international cricket community.”
The boards of both Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been in touch with their Lord’s counterparts to inquire about rules, regulations and the marketing of the 20-over-per-side competition.
Should it prove as popular on the subcontinent as it has in England - more than 80,000 tickets have been sold across the country ahead of this summer’s tournament - it could lead to regular international competition.
The first-ever international will take place this August when the England women’s team take on New Zealand at Hove.