Is it finally time for cricket to be an Olympic sport following its success at Birmingham 2022? 

The debate surrounding cricket and the Olympics has raged on for what seems to be an eternity. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world behind football, with an estimated 2.5bn followers. With such backing, it’s mind-boggling that the sport isn’t a part of the greatest sporting festival on the planet.

 

But this wasn’t always the case. Cricket did once feature at the Olympics, way back at the second-ever modern games in Paris back in 1900. There weren’t many competitors, however, with only France and Great Britain competing. 

As you can imagine with Les Bleus not really being known for their cricketing ability, Great Britain won the one-off fixture and took home the Gold Medal. The French still picked up the silver however, not bad to say they had a 100% loss rate. 

Women’s Cricket at Birmingham 2022 

This summer, the Commonwealth Games returned to England for the first time since Manchester hosted some 20 years prior. And the English marked the occasion by including one of their sporting gifts to the world, cricket. Only this time, it was the women who took center stage. 

Online bookmakers like the bookie Bovada, which provide betting and free offers on cricket, had made Australia the favorites for the gold medal. This wasn’t surprising, as back in April, led by the maverick Alyssa Healy – who was named player of the tournament after amassing 509 runs – they romped to the World Cup in New Zealand. Victory over England in the final – a game in which Healy smashed 170 runs off 138 balls – secured their seventh World Cup, more than all the other competing nations combined (5). 

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And the Aussies lived up to their billing in Birmingham. Both they and the hosting English went unbeaten in the group stages, ending with a record of three wins without defeat, leaving fans salivating at the prospect of a mouth-watering final at Edgbaston. 

But India scuppered those plans in the semifinals. The Indians set the hosts a total of 165 to win and reach the final, but in a nailbiting run chase, England fell just short, finishing on 160/6, just four runs shy of their target. 

That set up a final between Australia – who defeated New Zealand in the semifinals – and India, and another dramatic run chase was on the cards, but this time it was the Indians chasing. The favourites set their opponents a target of 162 to win, and it looked like they were in real trouble in the final over. 

But with just three balls remaining and just ten runs shy of the gold medal disaster struck for the underdogs when Meghna Singh was run out. With no more wickets in hand, the Aussies had done it, and cemented themselves as one of the greatest sporting dynasties in the process. 

Cricket’s Return Inches Ever Closer

In recent years though, the return of cricket to the grandest stage for the first time in more than a century appears to be moving away from being a dream and closer to being a reality. And that is primarily thanks to the success of Twenty20 cricket, the shortest format of the game. 

Back in 2017, former CEO of the International Cricket Council David Richardson said that the “time is right” for a return of cricket to the Olympics. Then in 2018, it was announced that most cricket member states were for cricket to be played at the Olympics, rather than against it like some had been in recent years. Following that, for the first time ever, the CEO of the ICC announced that his and the council’s expectations were that the sport would be included in the 2028 games in Los Angeles. 

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Cricketing legends Brian Lara and Kumar Sangakkara have also both gone on record expressing their belief that the sport would be included, hopefully in 2024, but if not, definitely in 2028. 

And if the International Olympic Committee needed any extra motivation to include the sport, they just needed to take one look at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Women’s T20 cricket was added to the schedule for the first time. And to say it was a success would have been an understatement. 

Will We See Cricket in The Schedule for 2028? 

It remains to be seen whether cricket will be in Los Angeles 2028, but all the indicators suggest that it will be. And for those doubting whether the sport would be a success only need to take a look at the attendance figures of women’s cricket at Birmingham 2022. 

As of 31st July, over 150,000 tickets were sold to watch the women do their thing at Edgbaston. Such ticket sales made the event the most attended women’s cricket competition in history, surpassing the previous record of 137,000, which was set at the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia. Should the sport make its way stateside in six years’ time, that figure will only grow. 

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