Ricky Ponting wants cricket in 2024 Olympic Games

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka won the most recent T20 World Cup in 2014, beating India in the final

Cricket should be included in the 2024 Olympic Games, says former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

The 40-year-old, the second highest Test run-scorer of all time, was speaking after a meeting of the MCC World Cricket committee at Lord's.

"The Olympics is the pinnacle of global sport and to be able to get cricket into something like that would be an awesome spectacle," said Ponting.

"It would be great for the growth and development of cricket."

Ponting is one of 14 members on the MCC World Cricket committee, an independent body made up of current and former international cricketers and umpires from the men's and women's games.

The Australian, who made 41 Test centuries and scored 13,378 Test runs during his career, has suggested games would be played in a T20 format with sides made up of under-23 players, similar to the way football is staged at the Olympics.

"The discussions were very positive," added Ponting. "We should look to grow the game and open it to different markets and introduce cricket to a new audience - I think that's something the game needs."

However, cricket's governing body, the International Cricket Council, has not stated a desire to push cricket towards becoming an Olympic sport.

A statement from the MCC World Cricket committee added: "The committee urges the ICC board to reconsider its position and take a decision that it believes is in the best interests of the global game.

"This would need to be done in the next 12 months for cricket to have a chance of being included in the 2024 Olympics."

Reduced World Cup 'damages growth potential'

Ireland
Ireland beat the West Indies by four wickets in February during the 2015 Cricket World Cup

The committee also urged the ICC to "look again" at its decision to reduce the number of teams for the 2019 and 2023 World Cups to only 10 teams.

There were 14 sides competing in the 2015 competition held in Australia and New Zealand, with Ireland, a non-Test-playing nation, beating the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

However, Ireland and the other ICC Associate members face a tough task to qualify for future events.

"A 10-team ICC Cricket World Cup is a retrograde step that damages the potential for growth in cricket's developing nations," said a committee statement.

"To limit future tournaments to 10 teams is a handbrake for the development of the sport."

Four-day Test matches are not the answer

Floodlights
Australia and New Zealand will play a Test match under floodlights for the first time in November

Suggestions of four-day Test matches, to replace the current five-day format, have been dismissed by the committee, who expressed their concern at the "extra strain" it would put on the players' bodies.

Although the committee said four-day Tests - which would have started on Thursday and finished on Sunday - "may encourage the playing of positive, attacking cricket", they decided it was "not the answer".

Nevertheless, plans to hold the first day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand under floodlights in November have been welcomed.

A "World Test League" to find a top cricketing nation across all forms of the game was also something that the committee said should be debated for inclusion in the schedule after 2019.

Bat v ball - a fair contest?

Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle scored the first double hundred in World Cup history with his 215 for the West Indies v Zimbabwe

After record-breaking individual and team scores during the 2015 Cricket World Cup, critics said the game was weighted too much in favour of the batsmen.

The committee felt that "today's cricketers are generally stronger athletes than previous generations of players". However, the committee has "no appetite for turning back the clock" in reducing the size of cricket bats.

But it was mentioned that the MCC would work with the ICC on a research project to look at the size of the seam on cricket balls, with the hope of making the ball swing more after 15 overs of use than it does currently.

This research will be discussed at a future meeting of the committee.

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