The ICC agrees to award international status to all bilateral T20 games and opens up the possibility of bringing cricket to the 2028 Olympics in LA.
“The T20 format we always knew was the vehicle for growing the game and transforming the game from being a sport played by a few countries to a truly global sport," ICC chief executive Dave Richardson said after the global governing body met in Kolkata this past week.
That also brought into the realm of possibility the ICC’s ultimate goal of globalizing the game and introducing T20 cricket to the Olympics. "Assuming that we can get all of cricket united in a desire to be a part of Olympics, then I think we would have a very good chance in persuading the IOC that cricket is a sport that can add value to the Olympics going forward," Richardson told reporters.
In past discussions, the ICC had indicated that BCCI objected to such a plan. “We would like to urge the BCCI to have a look at it again and support the main body of boards that would like to get into the Olympics as soon as possible,” Richardson had previously stated. The Kolkata meeting sorted that out. “Well the BCCI representative attended the board meeting and the vote was passed unanimously. So I don’t think that’s an issue,” Richardson told the reporters.
ICC's current cycle of tournaments and accompanying TV broadcast rights contract ends in 2023, which is why the Kolkata developments are significant. Even if the schedule that the ICC agreed upon will be a bit muddled as we go into 2023, the tough decisions that were made allow the ICC to plan ahead for the 2023-2028 cycle.
"I think this decision can only help us in our move or application to the International Olympic Committee for the right to participate in the Olympics going forward," Richardson told reporters. “We can't go to Paris. But we have continued our talks with IOC and with LA in due course, hopefully by 2028 we will have cricket in the Olympics." That effectively gives the ICC 10 years to inject T20 cricket into the Olympics.
On the final day of the ICC meetings in Kolkata, the ICC also announced that there was “unanimous agreement to award all T20 bilateral games international status and the move to create a global ranking system for T20Is.” The ICC described its plans to introduce a set of minimum standards to make it as easy as possible for Members to play international cricket in a sustainable and affordable way.
All Member women's teams will be awarded T20I status from July 1 onwards, whilst all Member men's teams will be awarded T20I status from January 1, 2019 following the cut-off point for qualification to the ICC World T20 2020. Rankings for women and men will commence October 2018 and May 2019 respectively.
In order to participate in the World T20, a member must be among the top 16 teams. The sub-regional, regional and global qualification process every two years will also give more regular T20 cricket to more members. And the fact that all of these games will have international status would enhance their appeal to sponsors.