The biggest T20 slam in the world begins Saturday evening. IPL has captured the imagination of the cricket loving public for the last decade and has made the Commonwealth Games bosses think of having the format fitted into the next edition of the Games in Birmingham. Making BCCI fall in line may be tough but the heads of the Commonwealth are trying to look for ways to include it in Birmingham2022. The sun is shining in Gold Coast and so is the Indian contingent at the 21st Commonwealth Games. The weightlifters have opened the medal tally for India. With the strength and preparation for the Games, the 225-member strong Indian contingent is hoping to get past their best showing of 101 medals in New Delhi in the autumn of 2010.
Over 6600 athletes, officials and around a lakh of sports fans have thronged to Gold Coast to participate in and witness this quadrennial sporting spectacle. Eighteen sports and seven para sports are being staged in this edition of the Games but cricket remains the missing link, a sport that's played by all the Commonwealth countries
Fortuna Belrose, the Regional Vice President of Commonwealth Games Federation has travelled all the way from St. Lucia for conducting business through sports and says she misses watching cricket at the games.
"It is a missing dimension really because what cricket does is that it cements people. Our Caribbean region has been solidified for the work that happened in cricket years ago. CWG has 6 regions, perhaps Cricket can be used as a pilot in the regional concept instead of each individual country. The sport is a missing dimension. Most of the Commonwealth countries play cricket. It is one event that should definitely be played" Belrose was present at the Trade Event 2018 where she spoke on how sport pays for itself in the Commonwealth and sighted cricket as a perfect example.
And it is not just the Ieaders, the fans too are crying for their dose of India-Pakistan, India- Australia rivalry at the CWG stage. While covering hockey I asked an Aussie fan's opinion. He said, "I love the cricket. Maybe we can hope. We can hope to see cricket at the Commonwealth Games."
The leaders of Commonwealth had a review conducted last month on the sports that need to be in the Games to keep it attractive. They decided to drop shooting from the 2022Game, a discipline that brings most medals for India in the CWGs. But the Indian fans may have some good news on the cricket front. Patricia Scotland, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth says "Cricket is an extremely important sport for us. I have been talking for quite some time I would love to see a Commonwealth community cricketing cup which would be played by young people, particularly the young men under 19 because many of them do not play professional cricket, women and girls... In the next few months, we may have something in Lord's that might just give you an inkling as to where we are going"
India taking on Pakistan or even Australia makes for a perfect draw for fans and media alike. That serves to raise the profile of the Games as well. Australia has already seen the benefits of fitting T20 in the Commonwealth games format.
Kate Palmer, CEO Aus Sports Commission says, "Most sports would love to be a part of this. Cricket will be a positive and productive addition"
BCCI's reluctance to accept WADA's whereabouts clause means the big boys of World cricket won't feature in a multi-disciplinary event just yet. But the sport may reappear in the next edition of the games. A trial version in the T20 format will be played in June at Lords this year. It will include the women's team and the junior players as well. With or without the BCCI's backing, cricket seems all ready to march back into the Commonwealth Games.