MCC calls on BCCI to rally behind cricket’s Olympic drive

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), owner of the Lord’s Ground in London and recognised as the sole authority on the Laws of Cricket, has called on the Board of Control for Cricket in India to back the sport’s ongoing bid to become part of the Olympic Games, adding that the BCCI’s reluctance is the only remaining barrier facing the efforts.

The MCC World Cricket committee concluded a two-day meeting at Sydney Cricket Ground today (Wednesday) during which a number of topics were discussed. In a statement the committee said: “The committee has long been a supporter of Twenty20 cricket being included in the Olympic Games, believing it the single biggest step the game could take to unlock worldwide government funding and aid its global development.

“For men’s and women’s cricket to thrive in future generations, new countries must be introduced to the sport; playing cricket in the Olympics is the best way to achieve this objective. With plans for the 2024 Paris Games well advanced, the committee urges India to unite with the rest of the world game and lobby the International Olympic Committee for the inclusion of Twenty20 cricket in the Olympic Games, ideally in Paris but if not at Los Angeles in 2028.”

In May, the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) Cricket Committee reiterated its full support for the sport being involved in the Olympic Games. The ICC has been stepping up its efforts for cricket to be included in major multi-sport events and had said it would submit an application for a women’s competition at the 2022 Commonwealth Games only for this to fail to come to fruition.

The ICC was recognised by the IOC in 2010 but a concerted push to earn a place at the Olympics has failed to materialise. Cricket was part of the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1998 although talks to secure a return for the 2018 edition on Australia’s Gold Coast proved unsuccessful.

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 and the ICC is understood to be targeting the 2024 Olympics. The BCCI, regarded as the most powerful national body in the sport, is believed to be reluctant over fears it may lose its autonomy in its home country.

“We would like to urge the BCCI to have a look at it again and support the main body of boards that would like to get into the Olympics,” MCC committee chairman, and former England captain, Mike Gatting said, according to the Reuters news agency.

“It seems strange that everyone else seems happy to get in there because it's just going to be so good for the game. Free-to-air TV all over the world. It's only once every four years. It's not going to be a scheduling matter. It just seems they seem reticent to try and get involved.”

The MCC committee also discussed the issue of pay disparity in cricket, outlining that a proper wage structure, together with the provision of more longer-term national central contracts, would entice more players to commit to international cricket, rather than opting to play in domestic T20 leagues. 

The committee added: “There is concern that players in the poorer or developing nations are not being paid sufficiently, and there needs to be transparency and accountability of where ICC funds are being spent by some member boards.”