There is a place for cricket at the Olympics, but test nations need to realise that they there is no place for them in it. With an already packed international and domestic schedule, full test playing members simply don’t have time to play in the Olympics, which is one of the arguments as to why cricket won’t be included. Associate members, however, have a worryingly empty schedule considering they are international sports teams. Scotland had only 23 days of cricket scheduled in 2016. Two or three weeks every four years extra won’t do any harm to them, or any other associate member, will it?
Giles Clarke, former chairman and current President of the ECB, said about cricket in the Olympics, that:
“It’s a tournament too far. We don’t have the space in our calendar. The Olympics takes place during the English season. It’s impossible for us to set aside time for it. It would have an enormous economic impact on the game in this country. It’s a complete non-starter. We’re not going to be playing Olympic cricket for me.”
Considering this, and England’s extremely busy schedule, the ECB should stop worrying about the Olympics, and focus instead on domestic and international cricket in England. The same applies for every other test playing nation. They all have the currently elitist test stage and guaranteed entry to both World Cups as their potential gold mines, so why do they need to be involved in yet another international spectacle, when associate nations do not get a sniff.
When a sport is granted Olympic status, nations receive funding from their own governments, so therefore the associate nations would receive funding on top of their funding from the ICC. Win win. The associates get more money and more cricket. The big three stay happy at their selfish and self-righteous control of the ICC. China, for example, stand to receive enough money to be able to fund their cricket completely should it become an Olympic sport. The documentary ‘Death of a Gentleman’ reported that the Chinese government would invest up to $20m a year in cricket if the sport achieved Olympic status. If only 10% of the Chinese population took up cricket as a result, that would mean over 100 million people would be participating. Other countries that stand to benefit from Olympic cricket are: Kenya, Germany and Nepal, just to name a few.
For those who doubt that cricket will generate enough interest at the Olympics, then the fact that an Olympic gold medal will be up for grabs, against similarly talented opposition, should be enough motivation. Look at the Fiji Sevens rugby team and their English coach Ben Ryan, who led the Fijians to Olympic gold, and has been immortalized on the 50 cent coin and seven dollar note in the Pacific Island. For those who say that it will be a Great Britain cricket team, with England and recently Ireland being granted test status, the team will be a Scotland team, it just may be called Team GB instead of Scotland. Who cares what it is called.
The inclusion of cricket at the Olympics would develop interest in cricket in countries all over the world, as the opportunity for an Olympic gold medal would not be viewed upon lightly. Over time, the standard of cricket below test level would improve due to the extra funding, which would lead to more players, higher quality coaches, umpires, and administrators. All of this would, after 10 or so years, mean that there would be a lot more teams pushing for test status which would then put pressure on the ICC and force it to consider a major, and much needed reform in international cricket.
Imagine a cricket match between Papua New Guinea and Namibia, in which they are both tussling for their first ever Olympic Gold. To an Indian, English, or Australian administrator it may not be the best viewing, but to everyone else who enjoys cricket, it would be delightful.
Article by Freddie Young