Brief history of cricket at the Asian Games

Vivek Krishnan
Bangladesh cricket
Bangladesh cricketers celebrate after winning Gold at the 2014 Asian Games

Introduction of cricket to the Asian Games

There has always been hesitation in allowing cricket to feature in major multi-sport events, with appearances in such events over the years being few and far between. Cricket featured as a medal sport at the Asian Games for the first time ever only at the 2010 Asian Games, which was its 16th edition, in Guangzhou, China. The decision came about at a general meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia in 2007, and it was decided the matches will be played in the Twenty20 format.

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan were the three ICC full member nations to take part in the event, but due to other international assignments, they all fielded second-string sides while India were completely absent. In the men’s event, Bangladesh defeated Afghanistan in the final to win the gold medal while the latter won the silver medal. The bronze went to Pakistan, as they beat Sri Lanka in the third-place match. In the women’s event, Pakistan beat Bangladesh to win gold while Japan won the bronze medal after beating China.

A low-down on cricket at the 2014 Asian Games

There was apprehension in 2010 about how well cricket would be received at the Asian Games, but the fact that it is set to feature, once again, in 2014 indicates some promising signs for the future.

It was India, along with Pakistan, that made an initial push for cricket to be a part of the Asian Games. It is ironical, then, that India have once again refused to participate in the men’s and women’s cricket competitions at the 2014 Asian Games.

The 17th edition of the Asian Games takes place in Incheon, South Korea, from 19th September to 4th October this year. The men’s event will see two ICC full member nations, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, participating along with 8 associates and affiliates.

Pakistan have decided not to take part in the men’s cricket competition, although they are sending their women’s team to what is, after all, the largest sports event in Asia. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the other two ICC full member nations sending their women’s team, which means that there is room only for 7 associate nations in the women’s competition.

List of men’s and women’s teams at the 2014 Asian Games

Men’s teams Women’s teams
Afghanistan Bangladesh
Bangladesh China
China Hong Kong
Hong Kong Japan
Kuwait Malaysia
Maldives Nepal
Malaysia Pakistan
Nepal South Korea
South Korea Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Thailand

Squad news

Sri Lanka have named their 15-member squad for the men’s event. They will be led by Lahiru Thirumanne during the tournament while fellow left-hander Upul Tharanga will be his deputy.

Nepal, who impressed everyone by beating the more-fancied Afghanistan in the World T20, have been making giant strides recently and will want to show it to the cricketing world by creating some upsets during the Asian Games. They have named a 19-member men’s preliminary squad for the event, which includes the likes of Paras Khadka and Subash Khakurel.

Absence of India and Pakistan from the 2014 Asian Games is a big loss

The absence of two cricketing powerhouses, India and Pakistan, from the men’s event this year is a huge blow to the competition as it deprives the two-week event of star quality.

"It is not good for the Asian Games and Asian cricket in general for not having two of the big powerhouses participating," said a Hong Kong cricket official.

He went on to say that cricket at the Asian Games is absolutely vital for the sport to develop in countries like China, Thailand, etc. and hopes that cricket will be a regular feature at the games from now onwards.

"The Asian Cricket Council has done a wonderful job getting the sport into the Games since 2010. The biggest challenge is to make sure it remains for the 2019 Games and beyond," he added.

Edited by Staff Editor
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