Picture. THINKSTOCK
Picture. THINKSTOCK

LONDON — The Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC’s) world cricket committee has said it would like to see Twenty20 cricket included at the 2024 Olympics to boost take-up of the game around the world.

Cricket is on the first rung of the ladder for inclusion at a future games, having received full Olympic recognition in 2010, but would still have to apply to be on the programme.

Now the earliest that the International Cricket Council (ICC) can apply for the sport to feature at an Olympics tournament is 2024.

But following a two-day meeting in Auckland, the MCC world cricket committee said any financial losses the game might suffer from the sport being included at an Olympics would be outweighed by extra exposure.

"The MCC world cricket committee appreciates that a great deal of effort may be needed to lobby for the inclusion of cricket in the Olympic Games of 2024," it said.

"The committee accepts that, were cricket to be played in the Olympics, there would be a short-term loss in income for the ICC, and therefore for dispersion to its members, but is impressed with the potential boost for the game worldwide if cricket were to be included," the MCC said.

"Furthermore, the committee advocates Twenty20 cricket as the format to be played at the Olympics, thereby providing the ‘pinnacle’ of that form of the sport," it said.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, a noted Anglophile, has previously encouraged cricket to make its case for games inclusion, saying in 2011: "We would welcome an application.

"It’s an important, popular sport and very powerful on television. It’s a sport with a great tradition where mostly you have a respect of the ethics."

Only once before has cricket appeared in the Olympics — at the 1900 Paris Olympics, when Britain beat France by 158 runs, with the French team largely made up of British expatriates.

More recently there was also a cricket tournament at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, a multisport event for countries that were, in most cases, once ruled by Britain — as is the case with cricket’s leading Test-playing nations.

However, any bid for cricket to resume as an Olympic sport is sure to face stiff opposition from those who believe the games calendar is already too congested, especially in the aftermath of wrestling being put forward as the likely sport to be dropped from the games programme.

And others will argue no sport where the Olympics is not considered the highest honour should feature at a games, although that has not stopped tennis being restored to the programme or golf being included for Rio 2016, even though both have their annual four "Majors".

The MCC, which owns London’s Lord’s ground and still has worldwide responsibility for the sport’s rules or laws, no longer has a day-to-day role in the global administration of the game. But its world cricket committee is regarded as an influential group within the sport.

It is chaired by former England captain Mike Brearley and includes the likes of cricket greats Steve Waugh and Rodney Marsh (Australia), as well as India’s Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.

The committee also includes ICC CE and former South Africa wicket-keeper David Richardson.

The Auckland meeting saw New Zealand batting great Martin Crowe, who is suffering from cancer, stand down from the committee, having served since its inception in 2006.

Committee members wished him well, with Brearley thanking Crowe for his "passionate opinions, his enthusiasm and clear love of the game".

Sapa-AFP