London legislator heads for Beijing, wants cricket in 2012 Olympics

August 6th, 2008 - 10:47 am ICT by IANS  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Aug 6 (IANS) An Asian member of the London Assembly is taking to Beijing his campaign to have Twenty20 cricket showcased in the 2012 London Olympics. “We should definitely have Twenty20 cricket as an official game in the Olympics, and the London Games offers the perfect opportunity for a test-run,” Murad Qureshi of the Labour Party told IANS before leaving for the Beijing Olympics.

Qureshi, a Labour politician of Bangladeshi origin with strong family and cultural ties with India, has already met International Cricket Council (ICC) president David Morgan to press his case.

Over the duration of the Beijing Olympics August 8-24, he will meet with members of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to press his case for the inclusion of Twenty20 cricket as England’s “cultural sport” in 2012.

He is also putting the case before members of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

The London Assembly is part of the Greater London Authority, which runs London and - along with the IOC and LOCOG - is listed as one of seven ‘key agencies’ responsible for hosting the London Olympics.

Qureshi cites the example of how the IOC has allowed China to showcase Wushu, a form of Chinese martial arts, during the Beijing Games.

Although it will be not be played as one of the 28 official Olympic sports, nor will it be a demonstration event - instead it will be called the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Wushu Tournament.

Qureshi will use his unique position as one of only two Asians among the 25 elected members of the London Assembly to push the case for Twenty20 cricket when the Games come to the British capital in 2012.

He said important cricket grounds in London would be available to hold matches.

“Lords is only being used for archery and the Oval is empty. ICC members, including associate members, can play 2020 cricket on these grounds to show that it can be done,” he said.

He sees the London Olympics as the natural venue for Twenty20 cricket - a sport that was invented in England. Besides, he points out, London is home to a large cricket-loving population of South Asians from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Their involvement in the Games will be guaranteed by some sort of international cricket representation, he said.

“I’m sure it will go down very well. And you will be guaranteed gate receipts from all the Asians who would want to watch the sport in London,” he said.

“Cricket is the English game for the summer. Let it be the summer sport for 2012,” Qureshi added.

The move for 2020 cricket to be included in the 2020 Olympics has a growing number of high-profile supporters from the cricketing world, including Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, V.V.S. Laxman, Kapil Dev, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh and Kumar Sangakkara and Stephen Fleming.

Qureshi said after a cricket tournament at the London Games, it would be “even better” if New Delhi won a bid for the 2020 Olympics and hosted the inaugural Olympics cricket competition.

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