Sydney: Australia captain Meg Lanning is hoping the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will provide a platform for cricket to eventually be played at the Olympics.
Cricket will make a second appearance at the Commonwealth Games later this month when eight countries around the world battle it out in a 10-day Women’s T20 tournament at Edgbaston.
It will be the first time that cricket has been seen at the Commonwealth Games since Australia claimed a silver medal in the men’s tournament in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and Lanning will be doing her utmost to go one better than compatriot Steve Waugh and help her team claim gold this time around.
And Lanning is keen to help cricket attract a new audience in Birmingham that will eventually pave the way for the sport to be held at a summer Olympics in the future.
“Cricket in the Olympics would be amazing. Especially for the game as well, to reach a new audience,” Lanning told BBC Sport.
“It would allow different people to see that game would really help the growth of it in other countries around the world, and particularly for women.”
The next summer Olympics are scheduled to be held in Paris in 2024, before the Games move to Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane in Lanning’s home nation some four years later in 2032.
While Lanning would love nothing more than seeing cricket make an entry to the Olympics from 2028, the 30-year-old remains realistic and expects it to happen after she has retired from the game.
“I’m not really sure what it takes to get it into the Olympics, but from the perspective of players, it would be amazing,” Lanning added.
“It’s something I’d love to do but I think if it was going to happen, it will probably be once I’ve finished up playing.”
While Lanning’s long-term dream is to see cricket at the Olympics, the Australia skipper’s immediate thoughts are with trying to help her side add to their ever-growing list of tournament victories by winning gold in Birmingham.
Lanning and Australia have already tasted success this year by claiming the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and the Australia captain wants to add to her bulging trophy cabinet with a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
“We’re looking at it as a very unique opportunity. We want to win that gold medal,” Lanning said.
“Our group is really excited about it. It’s a new challenge, and I think it comes at a really good time for our team.”
Australia’s first match at the Commonwealth Games is against India on July 29, with further group games scheduled against Barbados (July 31) and Pakistan (August 3) prior to the semifinals and medal rounds.
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes, Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington.