Olympics: Cricket bosses welcome inclusion as new way to retain players

The inclusion of cricket for at least the next two Olympics could help ward off the threat of players shunning the international game to sign full-time franchise deals.

Only six countries will feature in first the LA Games in 2028 before Brisbane gets their chance to feature cricket in 2032, with gold medals on offer for men and women 128 years after the sport’s last Olympic event, a two-team contest in 1900.

Among the emerging threats to the long-term future of the international game is the offer of big-money from franchises for the world’s leading players to feature exclusively in T20 leagues around the world.

Players have recently shown their colours in Australia and other countries by shunning state or national contracts to mine the international T20 circuit, including Australian all-rounder Daniel Sams and English better Jason Roy.

South African star Quinton de Kock is also concluding his international career, at the age of just 30, at the end of the ODI World Cup to pursue a T20 career only.

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said Australian players were among the highest paid in the world already and the game continued to push hard to make international cricket the ultimate for all, with the Olympics a new carrot.

“It‘s another opportunity to represent your country on the world stage,” Hockley said on Tuesday.

“The next exciting thing for cricket is that there‘s more money and there’s more investment coming into the game. The game is growing.

“Our recent (memorandum of understanding) with the players made sure our CA-contracted players remain among the best-paid team sports \people in Australia.

“It‘s all about context. The work we’re doing is to make sure that each of the bilateral series around the world builds to something.

“Test cricket has now got more context with the World Test Championship.

“T20 will now have enormous context, not only to qualify for the T20 World Cup but now to qualify for the Olympics.”

The inclusion of T20 cricket for the Olympics could create further issues for the relevance of ODIs, and Hockley conceded that was a challenge” for administrators globally.

Qualification for the Olympics is yet to be confirmed but is likely to be based off International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings.

Currently, Australia’s men’s team is ranked fifth and the women’s team first.

Hockley said the Olympics would have a place among the most prized tournaments despite a T20 World Cup in 2028 coming just three months after the end of the LA Games.

“They’ve both got a role and a really clear role,” Hockley insisted.

“The T20 World Cup, with the expansion now from 16 teams to 20 teams, is an opportunity for all of the cricketing countries to be able to compete.

“What the Olympics provides in 2028, and hopefully ongoing beyond that, is an even further pinnacle for the top six teams.”

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