Formal approach rejected by International Cricket Council
Cricket will not return to the Commonwealth Games in the foreseeable future after the International Cricket Council turned down an invitation to be part of the 2018 Games to be held in Australia.
Despite a formal approach being put forward by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in 2012, the ICC has opted not to proceed although cricket will be featured at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games to be held on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.
CGF Chairman, Prince Imran of Malaysia, delivered a presentation to an ICC board meeting in June 2012 inviting world cricket's governing body to be part of the 2018 Gold Coast Games as well as the Youth Games the preceding year.
And while the latter invitation was accepted, the decision by the game's global administrators not to take part when the Games return to Australia – where men's and women's cricket was seen as a logical and comfortable fit – indicates a lack of appetite to expand the sport into multi-sport events.
Cricket has made just one appearance at the Commonwealth Games – at the Kuala Lumpur Games of 1998 when South Africa defeated Australia in the gold medal play-off.
Even though that tournament featured a number of Test-playing nations and many international players, it did not include several Indian stars including Sachin Tendulkar who were instead required to play a series of one-day matches against Pakistan in Toronto.
And England chose not to send a team after county sides argued the Games' September timing meant they would lose players for the decisive final weeks of their domestic competitions.
It is understood that the increasingly cramped international playing schedule, which is in the process of being finalised for the next 10 years, as well as a likely clash between the Gold Coast Games' April dates and the staging of that year's Indian Premier League were contributing factors.
There is also the consideration that an additional high-level T20 tournament on the international calendar might dilute the value of the ICC's World T20 championships, currently staged every two years.
An ICC spokesman confirmed to cricket.com.au that the proposal from the CGF had been canvassed but the option of cricket returning to the Games at the Gold Coast – or even to the Glasgow Games that begin this week – had been rejected.
"There were discussions about the inclusion of men's and women's Twenty20 cricket in both the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games but neither of these came to fruition," the spokesman said.
"However, cricket is scheduled to feature in the Commonwealth Youth Games in St Lucia in 2017."
While the 1998 Commonwealth Games cricket competition was staged as a 50-over tournament, the ICC holds a general view that if the game were to be included in major multi-sport events in the future it would be in the Twenty20 format.
That was the vehicle that a number of proponents, most notably former Australian Test and limited-overs star Adam Gilchrist, believed held such great potential to increase cricket's popularity around the globe that the T20 form should be included in the Olympic Games.
"The single best way to spread the game globally is for the ICC to actively seek its inclusion as an Olympic sport," Gilchrist told the annual Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's in 2009.
"Without doubt, the Olympic movement provides one of the most efficient and cost effective distribution networks for individual sports to spread their wings globally.
"It would be difficult to see a better, quicker or cheaper way of spreading the game throughout the world."
Gilchrist's view was echoed by Prince Imran when he told the ICC in 2012 of the global benefits that a return to the Commonwealth Games could deliver for cricket as it looked to establish a foothold in new markets.
"The greatest benefit of inclusion is not commercial; it is about the globalisation of the game," he said.
"I believe inclusion within the Commonwealth Games would be particularly beneficial for the development of the women's game.
"It would provide a high-profile tournament for them to take part in."
Even though the proposal for cricket at the Olympics is not favoured by many – including heavyweight administrations in India and England – those who support it saw re-inclusion in the Commonwealth Games as a valuable first step along that path.
In much the same way that rugby sevens, which also made its first Commonwealth Games appearance at Kuala Lumpur in 1998, has now been elevated to the program for the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
However, the ICC's decision not to pursue the opportunity to re-introduce cricket to the Gold Coast Games means the dream of the game gaining a foothold at major multi-sport events will be restricted to small-scale events such as the Youth Commonwealth Games which have previously been staged in venues such as Bendigo, Pune (India) and the Isle of Man.
At least for the foreseeable future.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 23 July, 2014 4:00PM AEST