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Jul 21, 2012 at 12:06pm IST

Rajdeep Sardesai on cricket in Olympics

Hello and welcome once again to DRS, my very own personal space, where we talk matters cricketing.

This isn't quite the cricket season at the moment. The world's biggest sporting event, the Olympics, which come once in every four years is here. Yes, India is playing Sri Lanka in a series at a time when the focus squarely will be on the Olympics. It is as everyone calls - or likes to call it - the greatest show on earth.

The focus this time interestingly is also on the Indian contingent. Will India win more medals than they have ever done? Remember, India has never won a medal in any team event outside hockey and we've got just one individual gold medal in all these years, which was Abhinav Bindra at Beijing four years ago.

How do we add to our medals tally? Well, here's what I suggest - why is it that we haven't made cricket, or rather haven't pushed for cricket to be an Olympic sport? The last time cricket was in the Olympics was way back in 1900, and if I am not mistaken, England and France were the two countries who were playing at the Olympics that time when it came to cricket.

Cricket and the world has moved on over the last century. You have more and more countries playing cricket. In fact, a few weeks ago you might have seen West Indies playing a cricket match in Florida, so that there is interest across the world in cricket. Cricket is reaching new frontiers. Afghanistan is now playing in a fairly respectable manner.

The question is - why can't cricket be an Olympic sport? About 10 or 12 years ago you might recall that in the Commonwealth Games cricket was tried in Kuala Lampur. For some reasons it didn't quite work. Since then, in the last decade, Twenty20 cricket has emerged. Playing Twenty20 cricket would be perfect for the Olympics. Instead of having the Twenty20 World Cup every couple of years, which really doesn't quite grab the attention that the 50-over World Cup does, why can't the Twnety20 World Cup be integrated into the Olympics? That way, cricket will have an entirely new direction to it. It will be part of a global event. It will be seen as a global sport. You will have 10 or 12 or 20 countries competing.

Remember, baseball was there in the Olympics because the Americans saw baseball as an opportunity to win a gold medal. There are various other sports which are questionable as to whether they should be in the Olympics or not. There are those who would argue - why is table tennis in the Olympics?

If table tennis can be in the Olympics, why can't cricket be in the Olympics, is my question. May be table tennis is played in more countries, but it is dominated primarily by a few. Ditto with cricket. The big advantage, of course, for India is that cricket was an Olympic sport. The attraction of the Olympics would increase for us in India. More importantly, we'd have a realistic chance if not winning the gold, certainly a silver or a bronze, and given the Olympic games, every medal counts.

So my suggestions to the Olympics authority - I am told already that the ICC is pushing in the Olympics direction - is that the time has come for Twenty20 to be part of the Olympics. It will lift the sport. It will lift the Olympics. It will increase the attraction for the game here in India.

There will be those who will argue that it will suddenly overshadow all the sports, but not quite. When it comes to the Olympics, cricket will be on a level playing field with all other sports.

Wouldn't it be fun to watch Mahendra Singh Dhoni rubbing his shoulders with Leander Paes, Saina Nehwal and all the superstars like Mary Kom and walking a contingent together? Let's now push and run a campaign to make cricket an Olympic sport.

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