The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed it has submitted a bid for the inclusion of T20 women’s cricket into the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022.
The bid, according to ICC, has been made in partnership with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), will see one of the world’s fastest growing women’s team sports apply to become part of the Commonwealth Games family.
Cricket has made just one appearance at the Games previously, with men playing in 1998 in Kuala Lumpar where South Africa stood on top of the podium. The application for inclusion of women’s cricket for Birmingham 2022 is part of the global strategy for cricket to inspire and empower women and girls around the world and to drive greater levels of inclusivity and opportunity throughout the sport.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said: “Cricket and the Commonwealth are inextricably linked and almost perfectly aligned with 910 million of cricket’s one billion plus adult fans from Commonwealth countries. Creating a new partnership between women’s cricket and the Commonwealth Games demonstrates the commitment both organisations have to growing women’s sport and delivering greater equality, fairness and opportunity in sport across the Commonwealth.
“Birmingham is the perfect place to launch this partnership as the city shares cricket’s rich and diverse culture and heritage. 23 per cent of the city’s residents have links to cricket playing nations outside the UK, the deep connection between cricket and Birmingham will bring people together and inspire future generations of players and fans of women’s cricket. If cricket were to be staged in these Games, we know every team competing would be guaranteed ‘home’ support. There’s a readymade audience and ready-made infrastructure in the local vicinity.
“This partnership has the potential to go way beyond a sporting event that can be enjoyed by hundreds of millions of fans in Birmingham, the UK and the rest of the world. I believe the players who reflect the diversity of this audience will send a powerful message to young women in Birmingham and beyond about the potential that they can achieve through sport.
“We would like cricket to lead the way in the Commonwealth in inspiring more young girls to take up sport regardless of their background or culture. There’s a saying that ‘you can’t be it if you can’t see it’ – imagine the impact of millions of young girls around the world watching women’s cricket in the Commonwealth Games and being empowered with the knowledge that they too can play cricket, represent their country and compete on a global stage.”
ECB Chairman Colin Graves said: “As Chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, I’ve always been keen to support any steps that can help us to grow the game, both at home and across the globe.
“The women’s game is going from strength to strength, attracting strong crowds and drawing girls and boys to cricket – it’s an important strategic focus and a huge opportunity.
“To have cricket play a part in the Commonwealth Games, seen by a wide and diverse audience in the UK and played out across the world, would be a real boost for cricket and the women’s game.”
ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison said: “The appetite for the women’s game is huge, we have the facilities to stage a great tournament and there is a big opportunity for growth.
“As we saw with the ICC Women’s World Cup here in 2017, a global event can have a huge impact on inspiring women and girls to get involved in cricket – playing, watching and volunteering.
“Locally, Birmingham has the second largest South Asian population in the UK and we are already working hard to engage these communities in cricket through our South Asian Action Plan, which we launched in May.
“Birmingham 2022 would be a great opportunity to showcase cricket around the Commonwealth and give cricket a huge platform for growth locally, nationally and globally.”
England women’s captain Heather Knight said: “It’s hugely exciting that women’s cricket is bidding to become part of the Commonwealth Games.
“So much of what we do is about trying to get young girls and boys to pick up a bat and a ball and start playing the sport and the exposure of being in a global event like the Commonwealth Games would be so valuable for that.
“We saw earlier this year when the England Netball team won the gold medal on the Gold Coast that there’s a massive opportunity to inspire and to grow the game and we’d love to be a part of that.”