James Anderson gives support to cricket's inclusion at Olympics

Tim Wigmore
·2-min read
James Anderson.
James Anderson.

Jimmy Anderson has declared that it would be “amazing” if cricket appeared in the Olympic Games, following ECB chair Ian Watmore’s backing of the idea.

Telegraph Sport revealed on Monday that Watmore saw cricket joining the Games from 2028 as “a wonderful opportunity” to grow the sport. The most likely format for cricket in the Games is Twenty20. 

While the Los Angeles Games are likely to come well after the end of Anderson’s international career - he will turn 46 in 2028 - England’s highest ever Test wicket-taker endorsed the prospect.

“It would be amazing to see cricket in the Olympics,” he says. “There’s no reason T20 couldn’t be in the Commonwealth Games or Olympics.” Women’s T20 cricket will feature in next year’s Commonwealth Games. 

Joining the Games could have a particularly galvanising impact on the sport in emerging nations. In many countries government funding is directed at Olympic sports, so Olympic status would unlock new funding for cricket, as well as generating extra exposure for the game. 

Cricket’s reticence to launch a concerted bid to join the Games has long been a source of exasperation to Associate nations. But Watmore’s comments - which follow the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s apparent new support for the notion - have buoyed administrators in the sport’s new frontiers.

“As far as the Olympics are concerned, I honestly think this would be a massive game-changer for most of the Associate countries, not just Brazil,” said Matt Featherstone, the development officer for Cricket Brasil. “It is obvious that most won’t ever get to play in the Olympics but being registered and recognised by your Olympic committee brings so many more benefits. 

“In the case of Brazil we would receive funding from the government’s Olympic Committee as well as opening up new sponsorships opportunities and government grants that due to not being an Olympic sport can’t be applied for.” 

Featherstone cited the growth of rugby, which rejoined the Games in 2016, as a sport that has benefited from Olympic inclusion in Brazil. “Rugby has been a perfect example of how a new sport can grow in a country rapidly and how the benefits of being an Olympic sport can be utilised.” 

Brian Mantle, the chief executive of the German Cricket Federation, also believes that Olympic status could be transformative. For Associate nations, the extra funding from national Olympic committees would make them far less reliant on their grants from the ICC.

“Germany sees itself as an Olympic country and however unrealistic an Olympic medal might be at the moment, I am sure they would do anything they can to make it possible,” he said. “Rugby’s growth in Germany is an example of this.

“We would instantly become members of the German Olympic Federation, opening up all kinds of funds and projects that would dwarf the funding we get from the ICC.”