England captain Heather Knight believes that the women’s T20 cricket can push cricket towards being an Olympic sport again and she wants her side to use the upcoming Commonwealth Games on home soil to showcase the game at the highest level to a new audience.
Cricket will return to the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 24 years and just the second time ever when Knight and England take part in an eight-team women’s tournament that commences in Birmingham later this month.Prior to this, a men’s cricket competition was held at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, with South Africa taking gold by beating Australia in the final.
England, who are currently playing the multi-format series against South Africa, are placed in Group B at the CWG with their first match against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston on July 30.”It is a chance for us as a sport to reach some people we haven’t reached before. A huge stage to show what we can do. The platform to reach so many people is there, so our job is to be successful and show the skills that we have,” Knight said.
“It’s massive how much women’s cricket has changed and this could be another game-changer in terms of reaching new people and a different level,” she added.
Notably, the only time an Olympic cricket competition took place was at Paris 1900 when only two countries took part and Great Britain overcame hosts France to win gold.
Asked if cricket could become part of the Olympics, the England skipper said, the T20 format has the potential to make it happen.”Potentially. Long after I’ve retired it might well happen.I think T20 would be the format, like it is in the Commonwealths, and the conversation would have to be had about schedules,” Knight told Sky Sports.
“There’s a lot on the schedule and something would have to be given to get it in there with other events going on. The balance needs to be found and (the women’s game) does allow for that.”The men are slightly different. I look at the schedules they have and wonder, ‘How do they be a human being as well as a cricketer?’. But I see no reason why it can’t happen, especially for it to open up a different audience for cricket around the world,” she added.
England have named the same 15-player squad for the South Africa series and the Commonwealth Games, with the veteran cricketer saying the thought of playing at a multi-games event has given her “goosebumps”.”It is something completely different,” said Knight, who wants to attend athletics’ 100m finals or cycling’s road races in Birmingham if her schedule allows.
“We went to kitting out the other day and it was a brand new experience. To see pictures of outstanding athletes on the wall who have competed for Team England got the goosebumps going.It made the girls realise how different it was going to be and excited for what’s to come,” she added.