Sachin Tendulkar & Shane Warne want cricket at Olympic Games

Mike Atherton, Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne
Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne want to stage all-star cricket matches around the world

All-time greats Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar have called for Twenty20 cricket to become an Olympic sport.

Cricket has not featured since 1900 but the sport's governing body is meeting the International Olympic Committee next month to discuss a possible bid.

"I'd love to see it as an Olympic sport and, who knows, down the track it might be," Warne told BBC Stumped.

"I think it's a great idea and I reckon T20 is the best format for it," added Tendulkar on the World Service show.

Former Australia leg-spinner Warne and ex-Indian batsman Tendulkar are captaining rival teams in a series of three Twenty20 All Star matches in the USA in November as they seek to use their fame to help globalise the game.

Their backing for an Olympic bid will increase the pressure on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to reverse its resistance to the concept on the grounds that it might dilute the sport's existing competitions, such as the World Cup and World Twenty20.

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

Following its board meeting in October, the ICC announced that its chief executive David Richardson and director Giles Clarke would hold talks with the IOC in November.

Tendulkar, a guest on the launch show of the second series of Stumped, believes Twenty20 is the ideal format for making the sport accessible at the Olympics.

"It's the most acceptable format for people who don't have any knowledge about cricket or the ones who need an introduction to cricket," said Test cricket's all-time leading run-scorer.

"The game is over in three hours and it's like any sport - you go to a stadium and after three hours you get back to your work."

Warne also favours Twenty20 but is not opposed to indoor cricket being the chosen format - another idea that is reportedly on the table.

"If it advertises the game of cricket and the skill and athleticism that are involved in a game of cricket then great," said Warne, 46, whose tally of 708 Test wickets is second only to Sri Lanka icon Muttiah Muralitharan.

"I haven't seen a game of indoor cricket for a long time so I don't know how good indoor cricket is at the moment. But the last time I saw it, it was fantastic - so hopefully they have grown a different skill for it.

"Ideally, I'd stick to Twenty20 because it's over in three hours, it's easy to organise and you play two or three games a day. I'd include the associate nations because it's helping spread the word of cricket."

Cricket's Olympic push has gathered momentum in recent weeks after new England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves came out in favour.

The ECB had long opposed the idea because of the potential financial implications of an Olympic competition taking place at the height of the English summer.

Hear the full interviews with Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar on Stumped on BBC World Service on Saturday 31 October at 00:30 GMT or download the podcast via the Stumped website.

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