THE International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to award Cricket West Indies (CWI) and USA Cricket joint hosting rights for the 2024 T20 World Cup augurs well for the sport’s chances of being featured, for the first time, at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028.
So says Brian Lewis, TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) and Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) president, who believes the 2024 T20 World Cup, serves as a potential launchpad ahead of the Summer Games four years later.
On Tuesday, the ICC announced that a joint bid made by CWI and USA Cricket to host the prestigious tournament was successful.
This would be the first time the T20 World Cup will be hosted in the US and the fourth occasion the WI will host a global ICC cricket event.
The 2024 tourney will be the ninth edition and the first to feature 20 teams, competing in four groups. The third edition was hosted in the Caribbean in 2010.
CWI president Ricky Skerritt and CEO Johnny Grave welcomed the ICC announcement. Skerritt was pleased the Caribbean was able to land another opportunity to host a premier world cricket event.
“And this time it will be in partnership with our neighbours to the north, USA Cricket, led by my colleague Paraag Marathe.
“We know that our strategic partnership has helped ICC to accept our bid, and we must soon get to work to make this exciting ICC decision a truly successful one for all concerned,” he said.
Grave shared similar sentiments and recognised ICC’s decision as “absolutely brilliant” to bring a top-flight international cricket tournament back to the Caribbean and into the US’ sporting calendar for the first time.
He said CWI is currently in the final stages of planning the Under-19 Cricket World Cup which will be held in the region in January and February next year. Tuesday’s confirmation of host-nation status, with USA Cricket, is a monumental one for Caribbean cricket fans, Grave said.
“It’s brilliant news for Caribbean cricket fans and everyone associated with WI cricket. It’s not since 2010 since we hosted the men’s event in the Caribbean and it would be 14 years without one. Everyone in the Caribbean will be looking forward to hosting that T20 World Cup in 2024,” he said.
Lewis, however, is elated with ICC’s decision but thinks the T20 World Cup would further serve as a good gauge for the US, and even the International Olympic Committee, for cricket’s (T20 male and female) long-awaited inclusion in the Olympic Games, starting possibly with LA in 2028 and then Brisbane in 2032.
During his address at the 19th CANOC general assembly in St Lucia last Wednesday, president Lewis said the regional body had fully endorsed USA Cricket and CWI’s bid for the T20 World Cup.
“On behalf of CANOC we are delighted it (bid) was successful because it has implications for cricket and the Olympics in 2028 in Los Angeles, USA, for T20, to earn its status as an Olympic sport.
“The process will involve national Olympic committees (NOC). I’m looking forward to those conversations. It means there has to be a relationship with the NOCs,” he said.
Women’s cricket will also be featured at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (July/August) in Birmingham, England and will be the sport’s first inclusion since a List A men’s tournament at the 1998 edition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Adding T20 cricket to the Olympic programme, Lewis said, might see the shortest version of the sport also featured at other world competitions.
“Cricket is on the Commonwealth programme. The Olympic programme also includes the Central American and Caribbean Games, Pan Am Games, Junior Pan Am Games and maybe even Junior Olympics, depending, (but) it will have some changes to it that would be made.
“When we talk about the Olympic and Commonwealth programme, it’s not the West Indies as a group but as individual countries. It’s a big thing given the push and the interest to get T20 on the Olympic programme,” Lewis added.
The Olympic head anticipates collaborations and further discussions with CWI.
In June, the ICC announced a plan to expand its T20 World Cup competition to 20 teams and to have it hosted biennially in an attempt to peak interests “outside of non-traditional markets”.
USA Cricket also signed an agreement to bid for major events in partnership with CWI. This is part of a cricket development expected to be implemented over the next decade in the US.
A CWI statement on Tuesday said, “The strategic partnership and vision of CWI and USA Cricket for the 2024 T20 World Cup is geared towards growing the game in the Americas by re-energising the sport with a new generation of fans in the WI and unlocking cricket’s potential in the USA.
“The longer-term goal is to accelerate cricket’s growth as the world’s Number 2 sport driving towards mainstream status in the United States and enhancing cricket’s prospect of inclusion in the Olympic Games, to be hosted in LA in 2028.”
Additionally, cricket was added to the 2022 Asian Games programme which takes place in Hangzhou, China from September 10-25.
Attempts to contact TT Cricket Board president Azim Bassarath and first vice-president Arjoon Ramlal for comment via telephone on Tuesday were unsuccessful.