In the build up to the second test between England and South Africa Frank Gregan discusses the merits of making cricket an Olympic sport...
"The 'summer from hell' looks set to interrupt the Test again with rain forecast for the weekend and that has ensured the draw to be considered the most likely outcome and it is available to back at 2.35/4."
There's not many Olympic sports that Great Britain can claim to have been champions at for over a century, probably just the one. Any ideas? It's cricket, there's only been one cricket event which took place during the 1900 games and featured only two teams. Great Britain and France fought it out with unsurprisingly the Brits coming out on top.
Times have changed and the Olympics is now a multi-sport event with many popular sports that at one time considered the competition beneath them happy to promote their brand in front of a world audience.
Cricket is a notable exception, it's the sport that still turns its nose up at the event and at everything else that just isn't...well...cricket!
Whilst the majority of sporting fans around the world are glued to the box monitoring how their country is faring in the sporting event of the year the cricket circus continues to churn out match after match to conform to the ICC's schedule. It seems bizarre that the country staging the Olympics is due to host a Test match against South Africa at the same time.
Cricket has to compete for it's market share of the sporting audience but it could make life much easier by putting its brand into the Olympic mix and adhering to the old adage 'if you can't beat 'em...' The audience the sport could reach is massive.
It hasn't happened yet because of the misguided perception of elevated status that cricket believes it enjoys - in a nutshell, it's a snobby sport. There's no doubt that the cricket calendar is packed to the rafters but it's not as if there isn't ample notice given of when the games are to be staged and with careful planning cricket could become a valued addition to the games.
The counter argument seems to be that the sport doesn't have global appeal and is played only by countries that were previously colonised by the British. That might be true, but when you consider the fanatical support the game receives in the sub-continent the audience reach figure would be huge.
Another objection is that there isn't enough teams but if you were to add all the associate members of the ICC and the likely division of the West Indies into individual islands, there's more than enough to make up the numbers.
Player fatigue is another reason cited for cricket's non-participation but that really shouldn't come into the equation because international cricket is played around the globe just about 24/7. However, if revenue factors determine that there can't be a break in the international calendar then a way to circumnavigate that problem would be to follow football's lead.
The Olympic team could be made up of Under 23s with a smattering of experienced players thrown in. Alternatively, it could be made up of professional cricketers that have not received international recognition. What a reward that would be for someone who had played first class cricket all his career but never quite reached the top of the tree. An Olympian rather than an international, that's got a classy ring to it.
It's surely just a matter of time before cricket joins the Olympic fold but in the meantime, whilst the majority of male sports fans are glued to the beach volleyball, there is alternative (although not quite so aesthetically pleasing) viewing later this week when the second Test gets underway at Headingley.
Despite South Africa's dominance in the first Test the two sides are very evenly matched in the market with England at 3.36 and South Africa at 3.24. The 'summer from hell' looks set to interrupt the Test again with rain forecast for the weekend and that has ensured the draw to be considered the most likely outcome and it is available to back at 2.35/4.
Had cricket been in this year's Olympics that would have been the hardest challenge for the organisers - finding a dry place in the UK to play!