India Mends Fences With Commonwealth Games, Looks Ahead In Cricket: In sporting news you may have missed last week, there was a rumor circulating around the athletics community that the next Commonwealth Games might go ahead without the presence of an Indian team.
The next event isn’t due to be held until 2022 in Birmingham, England, but India was known to be unhappy about a decision that has been taken regarding the range of sports available for athletes to compete in next time around. To be more precise, Indian officials wanted shooting to be re-introduced as a medal sport.
The Indian request isn’t unreasonable. Shooting is widely considered to be one of the traditional contests within the Commonwealth Games, having been included in all but one of the tournaments which have occurred within the past sixty years.
Perhaps tellingly, the last time shooting wasn’t included within the games was in 1970 in Edinburgh – also part of the British Isles. While shooting is considered to be a traditional sport in many parts of the world, Britain doesn’t have a shooting tradition and has some of the most restrictive firearms regulations in the developed world.
It was first reported in 2018 that shooting was to be left off the list of approved sports for 2022, but the issue appears to have reached a critical point with Indian representatives at some point within the last one or two months.
It’s not hard to see why India would be particularly keen for shooting to be included. It’s a sport that the country has historically always performed well at. When the Commonwealth Games were last held in Australia in 2018, shooting medals accounted for sixteen of the sixty-six medals the Indian team collected.
It was an impressive performance and contributed to India’s strong finish of third in the overall medal table. Without the contribution from shooting, it’s hard to see where India could pick up the shortfall and improve upon that performance in 2022. While England has the right as the host nation to remove shooting from the calendar, it could also impact their performance and final position – the country picked up fifteen shooting medals in 2014.
According to reports coming from the BBC in the United Kingdom, a delegation from the Commonwealth Games Federation met with Indian athletics officials in New Delhi during December to discuss the issue. It’s not known what was said during those talks, but India has now apparently confirmed that it will be sending a team to the event.
There’s been no suggestion that shooting will be returned to the schedule, so at this point, we cannot say what persuaded the Indian side to return to the table. We can, however, report that Indian officials have confirmed that they plan to table a bid to host the games either in 2026 or 2030.
If successful, it would mark the first Indian hosting of the games since 2010. It may be the case that India has been told its bid will be looked at favorably so long as it doesn’t boycott the 2022 event in protest at the shooting decision.
A New Cricket Competition?
It appears that the spirit of co-operation on sporting matters between India and England has extended further than athletics in the past few weeks. It’s also been reported that the sport of cricket may soon have a new tournament featuring both countries – and that the inaugural event might happen as quickly as the summer of 2021.
The English Cricket Board has confirmed that it recently held what it described as ‘encouraging’ talks with the cricket boards of both India and Australia regarding the introduction of a so-called ‘four nations’ tournament of one-day international games, which if approved would be held every year. England, India, and Australia would be the three major cricketing nations involved, with either New Zealand or South Africa lined up to occupy the fourth spot.
The tournament would be additional to all of the existing international competitions and series rather than replacing any of them, and would alternately be hosted by England, India, and Australia. The format and idea mirror that of the famous ‘Six Nations’ rugby tournament, which initially began as a four-country competition before the introduction of France and then Italy alongside England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.
While some will welcome another high-profile cricket tournament being added to the summer sporting calendar, there will be critics who will likely see it as further cynical commercial exploitation of the game, and an attempt to pull in even more money from fans of the sport.
The sport has changed beyond almost all recognition within the past three decades, to the point where the online slots game ‘Cricket Star’ is now one of the most popular sporting games at most online slots websites such as Dove Casino. Historically, only sports like soccer and basketball have been reimagined as online slots because of their broader appeal, but the more commercially-friendly versions of cricket such as T20 and one-day internationals that now dominate the calendar have introduced the sport to a new audience.
Being featured at online slots websites is a sign that the sport is more popular than ever before, but to many, it’s also a sign that the traditions of the game have been tossed out of the window in favor of the pursuit of money.
At this stage, the tournament is unconfirmed. The summer 2021 start date is a proposal rather than an expectation, and the initial reports that have come from the meetings that have taken place thus far suggest that at least one of the international boards – possibly India’s – has expressed concern about fixture congestion and the potential impact on players and teams playing in domestic competitions.
The international cricket calendar is game-heavy already, to the point where the best players struggle to maintain a balance between representing their countries and representing the club sides that pay their wages. More international fixtures will only make it harder to achieve that balance, and might even put some clubs off the idea of signing high-profile players completely.
When you pay big money for an asset, you expect to have the use of that asset. When international duty means that you don’t have that use as often as you’d expect to, the asset no longer has a value. This is the quandary cricket now faces as we move on to the next decade.