Cricket in Olympics

Cricket in Olympics

Cricket is likely to be included in the Olympics  - as per indications given by the ICC and formally approved by the International Olympics Committee.  One of the preconditions while holding sports events in an Olympics is that the host city should build venues for each sport. So hosting of a cricket game at Olympics would also depend on the host’s ability to secure an international standard ground – although whether the prepared ground would continue to host cricket matches is a separate matter. It is also rumoured that international players of repute would be chosen to represent their cricket teams at Olympics. Since lot of shortened games tournaments have made their mark, and if everything goes well, it will be no wonder if cricket again re-enters the field of Olympics – much to the delight of the already cricket crazy public. However, this is unlikely to take place in London Olympics scheduled for 2012  but there is a hint that it may materialize during the Olympics 2020 through a Twenty-20 format. When it happens, and whether it brings enough revenue or not, cricketers who represent in the Olympics would be proud of telling their countrymen that he was an Olympic player rather than Test or ODI player.

Few would know that cricket has appeared in Olympics as a sport long before India had gained  international test status. But it is a fact that a cricket game had been played in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, France.  The historic venue was Vincennes Exhibition Ground and the event took place on 19th and 20th August 1900. And behold, the countries which participated in the then Olympics are neither England nor Australia – the traditional rivals in cricket.  In fact, apart from England, Australia and South Africa, none of the other test playing countries as of now, had gained test status when the first game of cricket took place in 1900 Olympics. The distinction of playing in the Olympics for the first time ever initially belonged to the elite quarter – Great Britain, France, Holland and Belgium.  Since the last two teams also dropped out, only Great Britain and France played against each other in a Final.

Though it could have fielded the much acclaimed cricket stars at that time, Great Britain did not evince interest in any of them and rather chose players mostly from the Devon County Wanderers’ Club. France relied mostly on Englishmen living in France and who were members Albion Cricket Club  or the French (Standard) Athletic Club.

The game consisted of 12 players per side and the umpires were Delorme and Wilian.

CBK Beachcroft, who had the distinction of being the first to Captain a cricket team in an Olympics, led Great Britain, who batted first and made 117. The highest score (38) was made by FW Cuming.  W Anderson was the most successful bowler for France, taking four wickets. In reply, France were humbled for a meagre 78 in which five batsmen failed to open their score and only two batsman reached double figures. J Braid who batted last and made 25 happened to be the highest individual scorer for France. The wrecker in chief was FW Christian who took 7 wickets. With a lead of 39 runs, Great Britain declared their second innings at 5-145 leaving France a target of 185 for victory. Beachcroft played a Captain’s knock scoring an individual fifty (54) while the No.4 AJ Bowerman top scored with 59. France, in turn, fared no better in chasing the victory target and collapsed for a paltry 26 with 6 of their batsmen failing to open their account.  As many as four French batsmen gathered ‘Pair’. Not a single batsman reached double figure. MH Toller – the pacer from Great Britain played havoc with the ball capturing 7 wickets conceding a niggardly 9 runs. Thus ended the match with a massive victory of 158 runs for Great Britain. Though it  was a low scoring match, it did provide exciting moments as Great Britain emerged victors with only five minutes to spare. Great Britain secured Gold Medal while France had to be satisfied for a Silver Medal. Brief scores of the match:

Great Britain  :  117 and 145-5 d

France: 78 and 26

 

by C. Keshava Murthy 

 

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