ECB and WICB chiefs debate Olympic cricket

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison has suggested the governing body is open to cricket seeking Olympic recognition, while West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron has stated the inclusion of the Twenty20 format would boost the global development of the sport.

The ECB has long been seen as an opponent of cricket entering the multi-sports showpiece in its T20 format, as the summer Olympic Games’ traditional staging clashes with the English cricket season.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) was recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 2010 but a concerted push to earn a place at the Olympics has failed to materialise – an issue Harrison is keen to assess.

“I think cricket should have the debate about Olympic representation,” he told UK broadcaster the BBC’s Test Match Special radio programme. “It does throw up serious questions for us with our season straddling when a summer Olympics takes place but these are questions we should ask and understand. England is often seen as a barrier to this discussion but that's simply not the case. If you do have a successful Olympic movement for your sport it can be transformative.”

Harrison’s words are likely to be welcomed by WICB chief Cameron, who bemoaned the previous lack of enthusiasm from the likes of England and India as an earlier hindrance to any Olympic ambition.

“I do support T20s in the Olympics, I think it will appeal to a global audience, so having it there will be great for the sport,” he told the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian newspaper. “Another benefit of having T20s on the Olympic set up is that the smaller countries have an opportunity to compete in the format. It is very difficult to get in because even in the cricket environment, the other big countries will have to agree. Some of the bigger countries are not in favour so this makes it very hard.”

Cricket was part of the Commonwealth Games in 1998 although talks last year to secure a return for the 2018 edition on Australia’s Gold Coast proved unsuccessful. Cricket tournaments in the Asian Games have been hindered by major nations sending under-strength teams, citing other commitments on the ICC schedule, but Cameron in keen to see further multi-sport event participation to advance cricket’s Olympic case.

“We have to start by getting cricket into the Pan Am Games and similar organisations first to see how well it fits in and then we can take it from there,” he added.

Cricket made its solitary Olympic appearance at the Paris 1900 Games, but many have called for the sport to be considered for a return through the more modern and shorter format of Twenty20.