Cricket is set to make its Olympic comeback, but Australia may face an uphill battle to qualify for the men’s tournament when the sport returns from 128 years in the five-ringed wilderness.
Proposed for inclusion at the 2028 Los Angeles Games, if cricket is accepted it would make the sport a shoo-in for Brisbane 2032.
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Other hopefuls on the list for potential inclusion are flag football – a smaller-sided, non-contact version of gridiron – lacrosse and squash.
Baseball and softball are also being considered, having featured at several Olympics but not making the program for next year in Paris.
Out is breakdancing, set to be one-and-done after its debut in Paris next year.
Breakdancing will make its Olympic debut in 2024 Paris but its unlikely to last. Credit: Getty Images
Others not to make the cut include motorsports, kickboxing and karate.
Cricket was a success at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, though it was only played by women’s teams. Australia took the gold medal.
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The format was Twenty20, as is set to be the case at the Olympics. If included, there will be men’s and women’s competitions.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been pushing the sport’s case, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) appears to have been convinced by the prospect of engaging with the lucrative Indian television market.
Two years on from the governing body announcing it would bid to have the sport included at the Olympics, ICC chairman Greg Barclay was cautiously optimistic.
“We are delighted that LA28 have recommended cricket for inclusion in the Olympics,” he said.
“Whilst this is not the final decision, it is a very significant landmark towards seeing cricket at the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.”
The proposal is expected to be approved by the IOC at the end of this week.
Australia’s women won gold at the Commonwealth Games, now they and the men could hunt Olympic glory. Credit: AAP
The 141st IOC session is taking place in the Indian city of Mumbai, where they can see the impact of the Cricket World Cup at close quarters.
If approved, it is expected cricket will be a six-team competition with qualification based on T20 rankings at a set cut-off date.
With hosts the USA to automatically qualify, that could spell danger for Australia’s men.
Australia are currently ranked at No.5 in T20, and have sat seventh as recently as October 2021.
The rankings-based Olympics qualification could also prompt a selection rethink, with topline players regularly rested in bilateral series.
Australia’s women will likely face no such hurdles, having long been world No.1.
Cricket has been played once before at the Olympics – in Paris in 1900.
Due to withdrawals the competition consisted of one two-innings match in which Great Britain beat France by 158 runs.
Each side had 12 players, all but two of whom never played first-class cricket. Most of the French team were British expatriates.
With five team sports pushing numbers up significantly, others may have to trim the number of disciplines for 2028 to help the IOC adhere to their limit of 10,500 athletes at a Summer Olympics.
– With Reuters, AP
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