Cricket, the distinguished sport steeped in tradition and history, stands poised on the cusp of a monumental paradigm shift. According to Ellyse Perry, an accomplished Australian cricketer, the imminent inclusion of cricket in the Olympics could witness the sport surge in popularity akin to Rugby 7s. This profound development might well see countries as diverse as Russia and China enthusiastically embracing the game, hailing this news as a transformative juncture.
The pivotal milestone that propelled cricket back into the Olympic fold, after a hiatus spanning 128 years, has been successfully reached: cricket has been confirmed as one of the five sports proposed for the 2028 Los Angeles Games by the organising committee. As the rallying chorus for cricket’s Olympic re-inclusion swelled, the support from the International Olympic Committee proved decisive, persuading the games’ administrators to grant their approval despite lobbying to introduce flag football.
Cricket’s renaissance in the Olympic arena sits comfortably among other nominated sports like lacrosse, squash, baseball, and softball, as breakdancing readies itself for a temporary retirement following a singular appearance in Paris next year. The centennial reintroduction of cricket in the games practically guarantees its spot in the 2032 Brisbane Games.
As the cricket world awaits the IOC’s formal blessing to this proposal during the meeting scheduled at the end of this week in Mumbai, the event appears destined to be a simple formality.
Perry, on the brink of her 33rd birthday, while acknowledging her unlikely participation as an athlete in her 37th year, nonetheless heralded the immense global impact this development could have on cricket.
She stated emphatically, “It encourages a surge in global participation, transcending cricket’s traditional Commonwealth sphere,”. Perry went on to cite the invigorating effects of this expansion observed in other sports like Rugby 7s now attracting players from Russia, America, and China.
Conveying her enthusiasm, Perry labeled the announcement as a game-changer for cricket – the same excitement she experienced when they won gold at the Commonwealth Games. She relished the prospect of experiencing that thrill in the Olympics, on par with an ICC event.
In a similar vein, ICC chairman Greg Barclay lauded the move as a “significant landmark” for cricket, emphasizing that while awaiting final confirmation, this was indeed a monumental step towards cricket’s place in the Olympics, a sight that has been absent for more than a century.
Casey Wasserman, chair of LA28, foresaw cricket’s potential to “ignite the imagination on the field of play and drive culture off it”, due to its ubiquity across community centres, backyards, schoolyards, stadiums, and parks in the U.S and beyond.
Cricket found success at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, albeit, only the women’s teams competed, with Australia clinching victory. It is expected that the universal T20 format will frame cricket’s participation in the games, welcoming both men and women cricketers.