Cricket to become part of Olympics..???

(Syed Athar Ali Shah, Karachi)

Cricket is one of the most exciting and intriguing sport in the world and it is considered as the second most spectator sport after Football. Currently it’s the most watched sport in the sub-continent. In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh it’s not just a sport. In this part of the world cricket is watched with lots of passion and emotions and it look like a religion to them.

Over the period, this beautiful sport has seen so many changes in the format and the laws. To start with, it was played as test match of 5 days long. This remained the standard format for very long time until England tried something new in their county championship when they introduced 40 overs matches among their domestic teams soon after that the ICC (International Cricket Council) tried to adopt that idea but with some changes they introduced inaugural ODI world cup of 60 over matches in 1975 with West Indies winning the title. Then from the 4th edition of the tournament in 1987 matches were played consisting of 50 overs per side.

This 50 over format was quite a success and grabbed the attention of many new fans and people started liking it. But then this format also started getting boring and people started losing interest. Another innovation was introduced in Cricket again by England, when they came up with the idea of T20 matches to grab the attention off young generation. To make these matches more exiting they also introduced some new things in it like fielding restriction in first 6 overs and “free-hit” after a no-ball. Despite many concerns and criticism that format took off and ICC also decided to introduce it at international level. Inaugural Twenty-20 world cup was held in 2007 in south Africa. Many people believe that India winning the inaugural world cup was a real turning point when India introduced Indian Premier League (IPL) and after that cricket became a highly successful commercial sport. Almost every country introduced their own cricket league with teams consisting of players from their local arena and mixture of players from different countries.

T20 was a huge success, it not only benefited the cricket boards with money but it also brought so many people to the grounds and created huge interest among youngsters. But now the things have taken another turn, recently a 4-day tournament was organized in Sharjah mainly sponsored by Pakistan Cricket Board where players from all over the world participated, the new thing about that tournament was that the matches consisted of only 10 overs a side! Yes, another change in the format. T10 league matches were 0nly of 90 minutes with 4 matches being held in a single day. And again, like t20, a huge wave of criticism has started and many people have declared it as a joke to the gentlemen’s game. On the other hand, many have appreciated it and considered it as an innovation to make this game even more interesting. The point raised by many is that with this format cricket can make its entry to the “Olympics”. Due to the long test and one-day matches Cricket was not able to become the part of the biggest sports festival in the world and even T20’s is more than 3-hour long. So T10 can be something we can propose to the Olympics committee for the consideration.

So, the inaugural T10 league has just finished and it received positive as well negative comments, but one thing cannot be denied that it brought huge crowds in the ground. Only time will tell that, will cricket matches become even shorter with this new format? Will ICC also bring it to the international level, and if they do will it be included in the Olympics??

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