ECB ready to discuss cricket becoming an Olympic sport

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport at The Oval
Sri Lanka won the 2014 ICC World Twenty20
Sri Lanka won the most recent global T20 competition, the ICC World Twenty20 in 2014

The England and Wales Cricket Board is no longer opposed to cricket becoming an Olympic sport and will discuss a potential bid in the coming months.

The ECB has previously been reluctant to support a bid due to a clash with the English domestic season.

But new ECB chief executive Tom Harrison told BBC Test Match Special: "A successful Olympic movement for your sport can be transformational.

"England was often seen as the barrier to this. That's just not the case."

Harrison, a former county player with Northants and Derbyshire, added: "We are very happy to have the discussion and that's something the ECB board is going to be doing in the coming months."

In July, the MCC's World Cricket Committee called for Twenty20 to be included in the 2024 summer Games.

David Richardson, the International Cricket Council president who sits on the MCC committee, said it would be a "huge opportunity" for players.

Change Cricket protest
A mask of Clarke was seen at the Change Cricket protest outside The Oval

Former ECB chairman Giles Clarke held reservations over the concept, which feature in a new documentary film Death of a Gentleman.

Clarke, now in the new role of ECB president, was among those targeted in a protest outside The Oval before the opening day of the final Ashes Test match on Thursday by the Change Cricket movement, regarding what they perceive as the "slow strangulation" of cricket at the hands of India, England and Australia.

But Clarke's replacement Colin Graves and new CEO Harrison, are more open to the idea.

"Cricket should have the debate about Olympic representation," added Harrison.

"It does throw up serious questions particularly for us with our season straddling where a summer Olympic Games would take place but those are questions we should ask and understand so at least we can have an informed debate about it."

Changes to domestic structure?

Harrison also said the ECB's domestic structure review will consider reducing the first-class season from 16 to 14 matches per team in order to make room for a new domestic Twenty20 competition.

Harrison said: "The desirable position is to have a block in the summer given to a particular format, and controversially that means potentially playing one or two fewer first-class matches next year than this year and allowing the formats to breathe a bit.

"That will raise the performance levels and help us make sure Twenty20 is being played at the time of year where we can get the most fans into the grounds to see it."

He insisted, however, that participating teams would not be privately owned franchises.