Cricket 2023: Gardner eyes Olympic Games in 2028 as cricket makes its return

A gold medal at the Olympics in 2028 would provide the finishing touch to Ash Gardner’s overflowing trophy cabinet, but the star all-rounder concedes World Cup glory remains “the pinnacle of our sport”.

Cricket is one of five new sports set to feature at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles, with a proposal to have six men’s and women’s teams competing for gold in a T20 tournament.

Australia would be the automatic favourites in the women’s event given they have dominated every major tournament, including winning gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and are the No.1 ranked T20 team.

“I think World Cups are always going to be the pinnacle of our sport,” Gardner said ahead of the WBBL opener on Thursday.

“Olympics being a newer thing, they’ve obviously been there in the past but they haven’t been around for lots of years, so I think World Cups are probably still the number one.

“In saying that, winning a Comm Games gold medal was pretty special. If I was able to add a gold medal at the Olympics to the cabinet, I’m sure I wouldn’t be too unimpressed with that.

“It’s certainly something that we’ve known could be an opportunity to play in because there was so much talk about the Olympics and whether cricket would be back in.

“It’s something as a kid when you’re growing up that you want to go to the Olympics in whatever sport, and when I first started playing cricket professionally, that was certainly something I never thought I’d be able to achieve.

“To see it go back into the Olympics in America is pretty special, and fingers crossed I’ll be there.”

Sydney Thunder star Heather Knight would be one of the marquee players in LA if she decides to play, but the Englishwoman isn’t sure whether she’ll still want to compete when she’s 37 in 2028.

“It’s a long time away, so we’ll see,” she said.

“It’s awesome news. I was a kid watching the Olympics and I wanted to be involved, but cricket took me down a different path. I don’t think I’d be near the 100m, that’s for sure.

“I’m not sure how many teams are going to be in it, but hopefully there are more teams in it and it’s a chance to grow the game.”

Great Britain won the only gold medal back in 1900 when they won the men’s final, but the reintroduction of the sport at the Olympics could have lasting effects on the international game as it navigates a tricky period with so much cricket on.

Sri Lanka has only won two silver medals at the Summer Games, but recent success on the international stage coupled with the allure of Olympic glory could drive them to become even more competitive.

“We only have a few medals in the Olympics so I hope we can play good cricket and win a silver or gold medal at the Olympics,” Thunder recruit Chamari Athapaththu said.

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