Cricket’s long Olympics exile could finally come to an end this week when Games chiefs meet in Mumbai to finalise the programme for Los Angeles 2028.
Twenty-eight sports are already confirmed on the schedule but cricket was one of five new sports formally proposed for inclusion by organisers for the Los Angeles Olympics on Monday.
The International Cricket Council’s proposal is for men’s and women’s Twenty20 competitions — the shortest form of the international game.
“We are delighted that LA28 have recommended cricket for inclusion in the Olympics,” ICC chairman Greg Barclay said.
“Whilst this is not the final decision, it is a very significant landmark towards seeing cricket at the Olympics for the first time in more than a century.”
If it makes the cut, it would be the first time cricket has featured since 1900, when a team from Britain beat a side representing France in Paris.
Since then it has been in the Olympic wilderness, in part because cricket itself was quite happy to stand aside from the Games.
But in recent years the ICC has made clear it wants to be part of the global showpiece — a move that could turbo-charge the sport and help it exploit new markets.
“Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future,” Barclay said in 2021.
“We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 percent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics.”
The game has had support from the highest places in the Olympic movement.
Late ICC president Jacques Rogge said in 2011: “We would welcome an application. It (cricket) is an important, popular sport and very powerful on television.”
The current president, Thomas Bach, has also backed the inclusion of cricket, which featured at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
This week the IOC executive board is meeting in Mumbai, ahead of a full IOC session from October 15 to October 17, which would effectively rubberstamp the decision.
Cricket could not have asked for a better city in which to make its case.
The IOC session is being held in one of the hotbeds of the sport as India hosts the men’s 50-over World Cup.
Cricket, with its multiple formats and quirky rules, has long been a source of curiosity in areas of the world where it is not played.
But the global language of cold, hard cash is easier to understand.
The arguments that Olympic cricket would clash with the English season or that the game takes too long look increasingly outdated.
The global calendar is now a mishmash of international cricket, domestic cricket and franchise cricket, with multiple formats jostling for attention.
The wildly popular T20 Indian Premier League, which has spawned several other franchise competitions worldwide, means traditional five-day Test cricket, long regarded as the pinnacle of the game, no longer holds sway.
The IPL, featuring global superstars, has helped India become the unquestioned economic driving force of cricket, thanks to legions of fans and lucrative broadcasting deals in a nation where the game is almost a religion.
Adding cricket to the Olympic programme is an obvious move, financially speaking.
It would tap into the lucrative South Asian market, attracting fans in countries such as India and Pakistan that have not traditionally been strong in the core Olympic sports.
It would also potentially help cricket access millions of dollars of public and corporate funding currently reserved for Games sports.
That would benefit emerging cricket nations but could also help cash-strapped established countries such as South Africa.