Tuesday, August 5, 2008

T-20 in Olympics?

Courtesy: cricinfo.com

Steve Waugh, who led Australia to a Commonwealth Games silver medal, is part of a growing group of current and former players who have supported Adam Gilchrist's push for Twenty20 to be part of the 2020 Olympics. Gilchrist raised the idea on Monday and since then a series of big names, including Kumar Sangakkara, Sourav Ganguly and Stephen Fleming, have climbed on board.

Waugh, a mentor of the Australian Olympic team in Beijing, said the idea was "definitely worth pursuing". "If you want to globalise the game then you have to look at including countries like China and the United States, and getting cricket into the Olympics will fast-track that move," Waugh told the Press Association.

In 1998 Waugh captained Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and said it was the "time of my life". "Winning the silver medal was one of the highlights of my career," he said. And he believes Twenty20 will become a "worldwide phenomenon" over the next few years.

"The Olympic Games would provide the perfect platform to showcase the game to a larger audience, drawing in new fans and helping drive cricket development in emerging cricket countries," Sangakkara wrote in the Times of India. "The snowball effect this could be enormous. 2020 may seem like a long way away but we need to start the process now.

"From a player's perspective, the privilege of competing at an Olympic Games would undoubtedly be a highlight of your career."

The proposal has also received backing from Fleming, Ganguly, VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh. While Fleming and Gilchrist have retired from internationals, they are both involved in the Indian Premier League and see huge potential in the Twenty20 format.

"The Olympics would be the greatest vehicle to spread the game worldwide and it would be a logical fit," Fleming said in the Australian. Ganguly also took a global view of the possible development.

"It will help the players to be part of a worldwide movement," he said in the Deccan Chronicle. "Cricket is an exciting sport and should definitely be part of the Olympics."

Laxman said representing India at an Olympics would be a "great honour" while Yuvraj felt it was an excellent initiative. "Should cricket make it to the Olympics," he said, "it would be significant, especially to our country where the game is most loved."

Gilchrist said his proposal was a "call to arms for the game's administrators" and James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, is excited by it. "When you think of the Olympics, you also think of the big nations like the US, Russia and now China," Sutherland told the paper. "Those regions are clearly potential growth opportunities for cricket and we see Twenty20 at the Olympics as a superb vehicle."

For cricket to be included in 2020 it would need to be approved by the International Olympic Committee in 2013. The game received Olympic "recognition status" last year, but it faces a battle with other sports, such as golf, karate and baseball, to become part of the programme.

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