The England and Wales Cricket Board has dropped its opposition to the idea of the sport being added to the Olympic programme, according to the MCC’s World Cricket Committee.
The opposition of the ECB president Giles Clarke to T20 cricket becoming an Olympic sport had previously been seen as a stumbling block to a campaign to have it considered for inclusion in the 2024 Games. But following a meeting at Lord’s, the influential MCC thinktank that includes former players such as Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly said the new ECB hierarchy were more open to the idea.
The committee had earlier heard from the ECB chairman Colin Graves, who recently replaced Clarke in the role, and the chief executive Tom Harrison, and said in a statement it was encouraged by their openness to the idea.
It said: “We urge ICC to reconsider its position and take a decision that it believes is in the best interests of the global game. This would need to be done in the next 12 months for cricket to have a chance of being included in the 2024 Olympics.
“The committee is unanimous in its belief that every effort should be made to make cricket an Olympic sport, and urges all governing bodies around the world to get behind such a bid.”
The International Cricket Committee has so far been opposed but its chief executive Dave Richardson also sits on the MCC committee.
The WCC said: “The Olympics is a fundamental opportunity for cricket – in both the men’s and women’s game – and with a global reach, such a presence would expose the game positively to new markets.
“Competing in an Olympic Games would be a huge opportunity for players, a massive boost to developing cricket nations and give much greater exposure for the sport to a new audience.”
The former England captain Mike Brearley, the chairman of the MCC committee, said Clarke would have to fall in line if the ECB decided to back the idea, saying he was an employee of the board: “He has to do what he’s told.”
It also called on the ICC to rethink the decision to cut the World Cup from 14 to 10 teams, calling the move a “retrograde step” and “a handbrake for the development of the sport”. Instead, it recommended a 12-team tournament preceded by a preliminary qualification round.
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