By Amlan Chakraborty
SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – Women’s Twenty20 cricket moved a step closer on Thursday to featuring in the 2022 Commonwealth Games after being nominated by organisers for its potential inclusion in Birmingham.
The decision needs to be ratified by Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) members and follows a bidding process which included a joint presentation by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
“We are absolutely delighted that women’s cricket has been nominated for inclusion in Birmingham 2022,” ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney said in a statement.
“I’d like to thank everyone at the CGF and Birmingham 2022 for the nomination and it would be a real honour to become part of the Commonwealth Games family.”
Cricket has not featured in the quadrennial Games since its maiden appearance in 1998 when the South African men’s team won the gold medal in Kuala Lumpur.
The ICC last year said Birmingham was the perfect place for cricket’s return to the Commonwealth Games as 23 percent of its residents have links to cricket-playing nations outside the United Kingdom.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said it could be a landmark moment in the development of the sport.
“It would present us with a wonderful opportunity to capitalise on the global reach of these Games to showcase the very best of women’s cricket and in doing so inspire a new generation of women and girls…” he said.
Cricket, which has struggled to grow beyond its traditional bases, was last played at the Olympics in the 1900 Paris Games.
The ICC has been pushing for the game’s Olympic return with the 20-over format but the powerful Indian board has not been keen on the idea, fearing it might lose its autonomy and be answerable to the country’s Olympic committee.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Southampton; editing by Ed Osmond)