Crickets world governing body has submitted a bid for womens Twenty20 cricket to be included at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) will make its presentation – in partnership with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) – to an assessment panel early next month.
“Birmingham is the perfect place to launch this partnership as the city shares crickets rich and diverse culture and heritage. 23 per cent of the citys residents have links to cricket playing nations outside the UK, the deep connection between cricket and Birmingham will bring people together and inspire future generations of players and fans of womens cricket. If cricket were to be staged in these Games, we know every team competing would be guaranteed home support. Theres a ready-made audience and ready-made infrastructure in the local vicinity.
ICC bids to include womens T20 in 2022 Commonwealth Games – Cricbuzz
“We would like cricket to lead the way in the Commonwealth in inspiring more young girls to take up sport regardless of their background or culture,” said ICC chief executive David Richardson.
“Cricket and the Commonwealth are inextricably linked and almost perfectly aligned with 910 million of crickets one billion plus adult fans from Commonwealth countries. Creating a new partnership between womens cricket and the Commonwealth Games demonstrates the commitment both organisations have to growing womens sport and delivering greater equality, fairness and opportunity in sport across the Commonwealth,” ICC Chief Executive David Richardson.
Cricket has been part of the Commonwealth Games once before – South Africa winning a mens 50-overs-a-side competition in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Richardson said Birmingham was the “perfect place” for it to return as “23% of the citys residents have links to cricket-playing nations outside the United Kingdom”.
“If cricket were to be staged in these Games, we know every team competing would be guaranteed home support,” he said. “Theres a ready-made audience and ready-made infrastructure in the local vicinity.”
England were beaten by Australia in the final of the recent Womens World T20 in the West Indies, and the ECBs womens cricket boss Clare Connor believes the game is “on the eve of something special”.
England captain Heather Knight said: “Its hugely exciting that womens cricket is bidding to become part of the Commonwealth Games.”
A joint bid between the International Cricket Council and England and Wales Cricket Board was submitted last week before a vital presentation to the organising committee of the event next Monday. If an endorsement is won at that stage, the Commonwealth Games Federation will then make the final decision, to be ratified by September next year.
Read more According to the submission, Edgbaston would be the primary venue for the eight-team competition, with county grounds at Worcester, Derbyshire and Leicester under consideration to serve as the secondary host during the group stages.
That each of the games would be broadcast live on BBC television has been described as an absolute game-changer by Clare Connor, the director of England Womens Cricket. She has been steering the process from an ECB perspective in collaboration with an ICC working group led by Iain Higgins, the governing bodys chief operating officer.
“Cricket and the Commonwealth are inextricably linked and almost perfectly aligned with 910 million of cricket’s one billion plus adult fans from Commonwealth countries,” Richardson said in a statement.
One of the things we have noticed is the more we have worked on this, the more passionate and committed people have become, Connor told the Guardian.
People really tune into Olympic and Commonwealth Games, watching sports they normally wouldnt watch and are inspired by them. So it would be a different audience from a typical cricket tournament. So the benefits for womens cricket are very obvious.
And ICC boss Dave Richardson said Birmingham’s diversity as a city, particularly its cricket-loving South-Asian community, makes it the ideal place to host cricket’s return.
The sport stood a strong chance of admission for the original host city for 2022, Durban. When the shift to Birmingham was decided upon at the start of 2018, the formal process started again. Sports that are seeking admission alongside womens cricket are archery, shooting, para-table tennis and volleyball but they will not be competing for a fixed number of spots – the organising committee can give the green light to any contender that meets its criteria.
Cricket has featured in the Commonwealth Games once before, at Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Then, it was a mens 50-over competition only with South Africa beating Australia in the gold medal match. As Connor explains, one strength of the current pitch is that it is a womens competition, as only 40% of Commonwealth Games athletes are currently female.
I hope our bid will be strong because it fits with what the Commonwealth Games are looking to do around equality, she said. One of their three core values is equality and they are, like most organisations or sports in a healthy place, looking to create more opportunities for female athletes and this would mean eight teams of female athletes. It is also really powerful that womens cricket could be in on its own, standing there in its own right.
The top-eight ranked T20 sides would be granted qualification. The complication, as it was in 1998, is West Indies, who represent several nations. It is understood they would be asked to nominate one country from the region to take part as an imperfect solution to the problem.
The paperwork submitted the Friday before last will be augmented with a series of visual presentations next Monday and Tuesday to Birmingham 2022 decision-makers. Mindful of how important this will be, the ICC will be represented by David Richardson, their chief executive. The board of the organisation has already given the bid its full support.
We have submitted a really strong case, Connor said. We are a sport with such an amazing heritage but are also looking to be modern and be dynamic and inclusive too, just as the Commonwealth are. We are a sport that is constantly proving itself and growing in audience, fans and media engagement. So for all those reasons, I am confident. We have a chance to stand in front of them next week and really bring this to life.