ICC Head of Global Development feels Olympics is hard to fit into the cricket calendar
Decision to revert World T20 back to the two-year slot could stand in the way
With only days left before the 31st Olympic Games gets underway in Rio de Janeiro, question marks on cricket’s possible participation in future editions of the multi-sport extravaganza have resurfaced. However, ICC have admitted that fitting another 20-overs event into an already packed calendar would not be a feasible option.
Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, ICC Head of Global Development Tim Anderson believed that the recent discussions on bringing back the World T20 into a two-year slot means an additional tournament could lead to scheduling issues.
Anderson felt, “It's a big decision, there are some pros and cons. The ICC board has had long discussions and more recent discussions about the potential of cricket to participate in the Olympics. There's been direct conversations with the IOC very recently and I think the continued dialog with the IOC is really important. But at this point our board has not made a decision in that regard.”
He added, “I think one of the additional pieces to the dynamic now is lots of discussion around the possibility of having two World T20s in a four-year cycle. That would be great for cricket too. I think and if that did happen, then you've got a really packed schedule of Twenty20 cricket internationally. Whether that positive move means that potentially another positive move is not possible, that's certainly one of the conversations that's happening at the board right now.”
Usually held once in 2 years, the World T20 was slotted into a four-year cycle on the lines of the 50-overs World Cup. But, the commercial success as well as the global popularity of the 2016 edition in India changed ICC’s thought process and talks of scheduling one in 2018 arose.
Anderson noted, “It's hard to really say whether it's possible to fit two World T20s and an Olympic Games in a four-year cycle. Obviously if we have two World T20s, it's going to make the calendar much tighter and more difficult I would imagine.”
However, he enthused, “But I think the appetite right now around the board and Full Members for consideration of reform of international cricket is really strong. All of these things have been taken into consideration.”
Cricket is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which had even encouraged ICC to apply for a T20 tournament of 12 teams in both men’s and women’s categories.
Revealing that the proposal to include cricket in Olympics was supported by non-Test playing countries, Anderson stated, “We obviously know that the Associate and Affiliate members are keen for it to happen. There's lots of positive things being discussed about the reform of the international cricket program which for AMs is potentially really really important. It's a part of a very large and complicated conversation.”