The only cricket match in Olympics was played during the 1900 Paris Games between Great Britain and France. Two half-centuries and two five-wicket hauls were recorded in the historic match. The match was played across two days and it was a low-scoring encounter as just 366 runs were scored in four innings.
Interestingly, 24 players were fielded, 12 in each team, rather than the typical 22 cricketers and none of them had represented their national teams in the past. In fact, only two players out of 24 had played first-class cricket. While Great Britain was represented by the Devon and Somerset Wanderers club, France were represented by a team called All Paris.
The game did not hold a first-class status as both the teams fielded 12 players rather than 11. However, it is remembered as a Test match and incidentally, the match between England and France was the only match that was played in 1900 (international cricket).
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was formed in 1894, had earlier planned to include cricket in the Olympics during the 1896 Athens Games. However, their plan did not come to fruition as cricket was not able to generate a sufficient number of teams to participate.
Four years later, cricket debuted in the Olympic Games in Paris. Initially, four teams – Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Belgium – were supposed to participate in the event. However, later the Netherlands and Belgium pulled out from the event after their bids to co-host the Olympic Games did not materialise.
After a lot of hustle and bustle, the match was organized between August 19 and 20 at the Velodrome de Vincennes, a cycling venue.
Alfred Bowerman and Montagu Toller of Great Britain starred in the match with the bat and bowl respectively as they won the only cricket match played in the Olympic Games by 158 runs.
Bowerman and Charles Beachcroft were the only two players to score a fifty in the match. Both of them were from Great Britain’s squad and achieved the special feat in the second innings of the match.
Meanwhile, Frederick Christian bagged a seven-wicket haul in the first innings while Toller’ picked 7/9 in the second as France managed to score just 104 runs in both innings combines.
After the match, the Great Britain team were awarded a silver medal while France took the bronze medal home.
12 years later, in 1912, Britain and France’s medals were converted into gold and silver and the game was stamped as the official Summer Games event.