Cricket's efforts to be part of the Olympics have received a significant boost after the sport was added to a shortlist of nine that will be reviewed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for addition to the 2028 Los Angeles Games.
Last month, the LA28 organising committee had asked the ICC to make their case and, although an exact date for this presentation is yet to be fixed, a final decision on cricket's inclusion is expected in the second quarter of 2023, when the IOC is scheduled to meet in Mumbai.
Cricket will be vying for a spot along with eight other sports including baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse, break dancing, karate, kickboxing, squash and motorsport.
This February, the IOC green lit 28 sports to be part of the LA Games with a focus on youth. At the same meeting, it made a commitment to expand the programme and in May, it came up with a means to evaluate "potential new sports" and see if they were a good fit for the LA28 Games.
While there is no cap on how many new sports the IOC can add, they must pass this list of criteria for inclusion.
The ICC feels it is in a good position, though recognises that ultimately it is up to the LA committee to decide. Part of its optimism springs from cricket being, in CEO Geoff Allardice's words, "a star attraction
" at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, currently being held in Birmingham.
"We've seen from the Commonwealth Games how much the world's best players have enjoyed playing in front of big crowds and what I'm sure will be large TV audiences," Allardice told ESPNcricinfo.
Both the ICC and the ECB had lobbied hard for cricket to be included in CWG 2022 keeping in mind its popularity in the Commonwealth countries. It is the first time that cricket has been a feature of the Games in 24 years. The 1998 edition in Kuala Lumpur featured just men's cricket (ODI format). In Birmingham, it is only women's cricket in the T20 format with eight countries competing for the gold.
However, at the Olympics any sporting discipline needs to feature both male and female athletes and the ICC remains confident that cricket has enough global appeal and support to warrant being at the biggest spectacle in sport.