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The big game

Olympic football is for age-compliant players with a few big ones thrown into each team. Track and field has its own independent sources of sustenance.

Statesman News Service |

I t looks like the International Cricket Council is going to do its best, and a little more, for its game to be included in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Not that it is about the glorious objective of pushing back cricket’s frontiers, given that it has been long since it was played in the USA for the first time ~ and completely forgotten thereafter. Word is that it is spreading fast over there nowadays, but there was a Metropolitan Cricket League in New York even when KS Ranjitsinhji attempted his American experiment, and his team of English players happened upon Philadelphian and Canadian clubs that bowled the prince and his players over with their hospitality. That was in 1899, or thereabouts. And the visit left its trail of controversies too.

Cricket never really put down roots there, though, and spectators at matches in the Summer Games would be homesick non-resident southern Asians and Caribbeans, who will not mind paying through the nose for a ticket. But a share of the hopedfor American market will be akin to a celestially dispensed boon, almost like manna. Sport can always do with a little more ~ or a pile ~ of the right stuff. The entire enterprise will go a long way towards making the ICC richer without India having to be relied on for additions to its bank balance. But before cricket, or rather the Twenty20 version of it, gets into the Olympics and lives its own Great American Dream, it must persuade the International Olympic Committee that it fits the bill, having adapted to the new-age criteria for eligibility, in going fast forward and not pushing either Tests or One-Day Internationals for inclusion.

But that will not obviate competition, including, perhaps, one with break-dancing, which is making its debut in Paris in the next edition of the putative greatest show on earth. That is yet another problem with the quadrennial showpiece event: when it happens to be just a show, it has very little substance. You might proffer Twenty20s and the IOC could shoot back: “How about The Hundred?” And beggars have never had the freedom of choice. Disciplines with more visibly successful pocket-filling ploys are sometimes locked in a cat-and-mouse game with those stalwarts in Lausanne. Football will never give its best ones to it, which makes its World Cups moneyspinners. Olympic football is for age-compliant players with a few big ones thrown into each team. Track and field has its own independent sources of sustenance.

Also, virtually all major sports have their own global championships comparable with the Olympics. Cricket eyes cash, though, and little else. Could it be that its marketing wizards, who have tugged Bangladesh and Afghanistan and Ireland into the Tests, have simply had a good time, leaving the game to scratch about on all fours, picking up morsels. This is where you fail to tell the cat from the mouse, and extra-cover from midwicket.