The International Cricket Council (ICC), the governing body of cricket worldwide, is embarking on a significant journey in China during the Asian Games. CEO Geoff Allardice has made his way to Hangzhou, China, where the women’s cricket competition is underway during the first weekend of the games. It’s noteworthy that this marks the first time cricket is included in both the women’s and men’s sections of the Asian Games, even though Chinese teams are not participating in the sport.
The ICC’s involvement in the Asian Games comes as a strategic move to secure a place for cricket in the Olympics. In recent years, multi-sport events have emerged as a crucial strategy for the ICC to expand the reach of cricket globally. The inclusion of cricket in Hangzhou’s Asian Games is seen as a significant opportunity, and its success here could bolster the ICC’s chances of Olympic inclusion. Reports suggest that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is on the verge of announcing cricket’s entry into the Los Angeles Games.
During his stay in China, Geoff Allardice has planned meetings with the Asian members of the ICC. This strategic engagement aims to foster cooperation and collaboration among Asian cricket-playing nations. However, it’s important to note that the ICC’s current strategy does not involve aggressively pursuing cricket in China, despite its status as the world’s most populous country.
In the past, previous ICC administrations, including one led by Sharad Pawar, had considered the possibility of expanding cricket into China. However, their attention eventually shifted to the United States, which currently holds the ICC’s primary focus for growth and development.
While China is not currently identified as a growth market for cricket, insiders suggest that this could change in the future, especially if cricket becomes an Olympic sport. The prospect of cricket featuring in the Olympics could lead to a natural shift in focus towards China as the ICC seeks to promote and popularize the sport in new territories.