The Commonwealth Games Federation is keen to bring back cricket in the fold of multi-sports event. They said shortest format of the game T20 is the great prospect for the mega sporting event.
Cricket has only once featured in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games. CGF chiefs said their 71 national and territorial associations wanted cricket to back in the Commonwealth Games.
“We’ve had some fantastic conversations with the ICC. It’s very much exploratory,” CGF chief executive David Grevemberg told AFP at the Commonwealth summit in Malta.
“(It’s) one of the priorities of the movement: all 71 nations and territories unanimously agreed that it would be great to have cricket as part of the sports programme.
“It’s not out of the question and, working with the ICC, we could come up with a really relevant and exciting format.”
In the 1998 Games, 16 teams competed in 50 over format. Carribean countries competed separately rather than as West Indies while Northern Ireland also took part. England refused to send a squad as it clashed with the end of the domestic championship season. The tournament did not get ICC ODI status.
In the final South Africa defeated Australia to win the gold medal.
However, the idea of cricket in Commonwealth unlikely to materialize as in the 2018 Gold Coast, Australia Commonwealth Games will not see cricket, but could potentially feature at the 2022 Games in Durban, South Africa.
CGF president Louise Martin said Carribean countries such as Jamaica and Barbados would “love” the chance to compete in a global tournament in their own right.
So, “it would be completely different” to existing international cricket tournaments, she told AFP. “Let’s think outside the box and open it up,”
She said each country would have to involve in the Commonwealth Games from each region, and give minor nations worthwhile matches and something to play for.
The format also needs to carefully structure to avoid major teams playing pointless one-sided matches against weaker opposition, the former Scotland swimmer said.
“We need to encourage smaller countries to be able to compete at major Games,” she said.
However, “you have to look at the whole structure and what the strength in depth is. We don’t want whitewashes. I would hate to think that anyone going in against Australia or India are thinking they’re going to get nought. That’s not what this is about”.
She emphasised that the discussion with the ICC was still in the initial phases.
“We’d like to have it back in again. The Twenty20 format makes its so much more exciting and you can do it in a shorter period of time, but at this moment it’s still in the discussion stage.”