Cricket could return to the Commonwealth Games programme after the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) said it has held productive talks with the International Cricket Council (ICC).
CGF officials have stated that, although discussions are still at an early stage, there is every possibility that the multi-sport showpiece will feature cricket in the future.
CGF chief executive David Grevemberg told the AFP news agency: “We’ve had some fantastic conversations with the ICC. It’s very much exploratory. (It’s) one of the priorities of the movement: all 71 nations and territories unanimously agreed that it would be great to have cricket as part of the sports programme.
“It’s not out of the question and, working with the ICC, we could come up with a really relevant and exciting format.”
Cricket made its first and only appearance at the Commonwealth Games in 1998. It has also only featured once at the Olympic Games – in Paris in 1900.
But cricket’s place in multi-sport competition has become a cause for debate of late. The ICC said in October it had received several approaches from multi-sport organisations as a result of “cricket’s growing popularity”, adding that it would meet with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to “find out more”.
ICC chief executive David Richardson last week confirmed that the possibility of returning cricket to the Olympics programme is being explored. Should an agreement between the IOC and the ICC be reached, the sport’s Twenty20 format would be favoured, which would also be the case were cricket to be introduced to the Commonwealth Games programme.
CGF president Louise Martin added to AFP: “You have to look at the whole structure and what the strength in depth is. We don’t want whitewashes. I would hate to think that anyone going in against Australia or India are thinking they’re going to get nought. That’s not what this is about.
“We’d like to have it back in again. The Twenty20 format makes it so much more exciting and you can do it in a shorter period of time, but at this moment it’s still in discussion stage.”
Martin said Caribbean countries such as Jamaica and Barbados would “love” the chance to compete in a global tournament in their own right, as opposed to competing under the traditional West Indies banner. Therefore, “it would be completely different” to existing international cricket tournaments, she said. Martin added: “Let's think outside the box and open it up.”
Talks last year to secure cricket’s return for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast proved unsuccessful, but the sport could potentially feature at the 2022 Games in Durban, South Africa.