Cricketers around the globe reacted with joy after the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) confirmed the inclusion of women's T20 cricket at the 2022 games in Birmingham on Tuesday, 13 August.
The Edgbaston Cricket Ground will host eight international teams, competing among themselves across as many days. This will only be the second instance of cricket featuring in the quadrennial event, after the men's 50-over tournament was played at the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998.
South Africa great Jacques Kallis was among those who welcomed the move. "It's fantastic news that women's T20 cricket could be returning to the Commonwealth Games, it's been far too long," Kallis wrote in his column for ICC.
The 43-year-old, whose patient 44 had guided South Africa to a four-wicket win over Australia in the final of the 1998 edition, reminisced about the moment and called it one of the greatest of his illustrious career. He also welcomed the change in format this time around.
“When I look back on my career, that chance to play for South Africa at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur is right up there. Winning a gold gave us loads of confidence and we won the Champions Trophy in Bangladesh later that year too.
It's a great idea to get it back in the event and give the sport and the women's players that exposure.
"Even back in 1998, there was talk about the event being a 20-over competition, so it's finally come true it seems. That format of T20 lends itself perfectly to an event like the Commonwealth Games, which is over in a couple of weeks. And cricket is so loved in the Commonwealth countries too.
"It's a great idea to get it back in the event and give the sport and the women's players that exposure. I just hope cricket will now establish itself at the event."
Former India Women captains Sudha Shah and Anjum Chopra said the move would offer great exposure for women cricketers. “It's great. It's nice to be playing lot of tournaments," Shah said in an interview with The Week. "This kind of exposure is good for the girls. We have a very talented group of players who play fearless cricket. The more you play, the better you get."
Chopra echoed Shah's sentiments, adding that participation across bigger events will further enhance the game's visibility.
“It's a wonderful move initiated by the ICC and Commonwealth Games Federation. It's a nice exposure for the girls. To be part of a multi-disciplinary event is a different experience. So far, we have only been playing in World Cups, as far as international events go. As for having so many big events involving women, it's brilliant. There is scope to make the game more visible. To be standing on a podium with medals and watching your country's flag go up, who wouldn't want it?"
Women's T20 Cricket has today been confirmed for Birmingham 2022! 🏏🏏🏏— Commonwealth Games Federation (@thecgf) August 13, 2019
The last time cricket was at the Commonwealth Games was Kuala Lumpur 1998 where South Africa won gold 🇿🇦🏅
You might recognise a few famous faces from that tournament...https://t.co/c4cjOPi6Sl pic.twitter.com/r3OEit1Q3K
Saba Karim, the former India cricketer and currently BCCI's general manager of cricket operations, too endorsed the decision. "We were there when the decision was announced," he said. "It's absolutely brilliant news. It's very healthy for the promotion of the game. It's good for cricket to be part of a multi-discipline environment."
Belinda Clark, a Women's World Cup-winning captain, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for the game's talented female athletes to showcase their skills on the world stage. This is an exciting time for the sport and the impact on the next generation is obvious."
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