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Cricket at the Olympics

Cricket at the Olympics? It's happened before

Olympics

We look back at cricket's one and only appearance at the Olympic Games so far.

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It is official – the campaign to get cricket back into the Olympic Games is on.

The ICC has made its intentions clear, announcing on Tuesday its ambitions for cricket to be a part of the Olympic Games going forward, preparing a bid for the sport’s return with a target of the 2028 event in Los Angeles.

If successful, it will see the sport played at the celebrated sporting festival for the first time in 128 years.

Cricket has only once been played at the Olympics, back in 1900 in Paris, with Great Britain and hosts France the only participants.

Cricket’s road to its Olympic debut was eventful. Originally slated to be included in the inaugural modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens, it was scrapped due to a lack of participants. Four years later it made its debut in Paris but that too was eventful.

It was planned that Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Belgium would all enter cricket teams into the tournament. Unfortunately, both the Netherlands and Belgium withdrew from the cricket after their bid to co-host the Olympics was turned down.

Consequentially, the match between Great Britain and France was cricket’s first and, as it currently stands, last match.

The participants may not have even realised it was a part of the Olympics, with the match played under the banner of the Exposition Universelle of 1900 – a world fair in Paris – at the time. It wasn’t until 1912 that the clash was given official Olympic event status.

Neither team fielded a national side, with Great Britain calling upon the services of the Devon and Somerset Wanderers club, who were touring France at the time. France were represented by an  ‘All Paris’ team, whose 12-man group was largely made up of British ex-pats.

The two sides clashed at the Vélodrome de Vincennes in a two-day match comprising two batting innings each. Upon agreement by the two captains, each team had 12 players rather than 11, which took organisers by surprise. Having already printed scorecards for the match, the additional names were written in by hand.

The clash proved a low-scoring affair in the end, with Great Britain finishing 158-run victors. Fittingly, they were forced to race for the victory, with the final wicket falling just five minutes before the end of play on the final day.

Batting first, England managed a total of 117, with Frederick Cumming top-scoring with 38. In reply, France were held to 78, with Frederick Christian collecting seven wickets.

Fifties from Charles Beachcroft and Alfred Bowerman powered Great Britain to 145/5 in their second dig and an incredible haul of 7/9 from Montagu Toller wrapped up victory from there as France were skittled for 26.

Great Britain were awarded a silver medal for winning the contest, with France given bronze, while both teams were gifted miniatures of the Eiffel Tower. It was only in 1912, when the match was given Olympic event status, that the medals were converted to gold and silver.

At the next Olympic Games, in 1904 in St Louis, USA, cricket was left off the itinerary. What better a location for the sport to return to the Games than Los Angeles, USA, fittingly four years on from Paris 2024.