London: Batting great Sachin Tendulkar and legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne have called for Twenty20 cricket to become an Olympic sport. Cricket has not featured since 1900 but the International Cricket Council (ICC) is meeting the International Olympic Committee (IOC) next month to discuss a possible bid. “I’d love to see it as an Olympic sport and, who knows, down the track it might be,” Australian Warne was quoted as saying by BBC on Monday.
Former Indian batting superstar Tendulkar said: “I think it’s a great idea and I reckon T20 is the best format for it.” Warne and Tendulkar are captaining rival teams in a series of three Twenty20 All Star matches in the United States in November as they seek to use their fame to help globalise the game. Their backing for an Olympic bid will increase the pressure on the ICC to reverse its resistance to the concept on the grounds that it might dilute the sport’s existing competitions, such as the World Cup and World Twenty20.
Following its board meeting in October, the ICC announced that its chief executive David Richardson and director Giles Clarke would hold talks with the IOC in November. Tendulkar, who scored 15,921 runs in 200 Tests and 18,426 runs in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) between 1989 and 2013, believes T20 is the ideal format for making the sport accessible at the Olympics.
“It’s the most acceptable format for people who don’t have any knowledge about cricket or the ones who need an introduction to cricket,” said the leading run-scorer in Tests and ODIs. “The game is over in three hours and it’s like any sport — you go to a stadium and after three hours you get back to your work,” the 42-year-old from Mumbai added.
Warne, who took the highest 708 wickets in 145 Tests and 293 wickets in 194 ODIs, also favours T20 but is not opposed to indoor cricket being the chosen format. “If it advertises the game of cricket and the skill and athleticism that are involved in a game of cricket, then great,” said 46-year-old said. “I haven’t seen a game of indoor cricket for a long time so I don’t know how good indoor cricket is at the moment. But the last time I saw it, it was fantastic — so hopefully they have grown a different skill for it,” he said.
Warne pressed that T20 is easy to organise if taken under Olympic fold. “Ideally, I’d stick to Twenty20 because it’s over in three hours, it’s easy to organise and you play two or three games a day. I’d include the associate nations because it’s helping spread the word of cricket,” Warne concluded.