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When Cricket featured in the Olympics

Cricket made its first appearance in the Olympics in Paris Olympics 1900. The match was held between Great Britain and France where Great Britain won the only match ever held in the Olympics.

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Last updated: 20.08.2019
When Cricket featured in the Olympics | Sports Social Blog

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Cricket is always known as the ‘Gentleman’s Game’. It also had a clear difference of treatments to the amateurs and the professionals till the 60s. Hence the philosophy of this sport was very similar to the philosophy with which the modern Olympics was initiated by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Coubertin wanted to have cricket from the 1896 version of the Olympic Games but it was not the case due to lack of entries.

Cricket made its only appearance in Olympics in the 1900 Paris Games in somewhat confusing circumstances. The 1900 Olympics in Paris was not a well-defined sporting event like the current Olympics. It was part of a bigger ‘Paris Fair’ happened throughout the year and the sporting events were played between May and October in 16 different venues. Even some of the sporting events were rare and events like motorcycle racing, ballooning, croquet, fire-fighting, live pigeon-shooting, and cannon-firing appeared only once in the Olympics history. Unfortunately, among those one-time appearances, there was also cricket. 

There was only one cricket match played in that Olympics between a team from Great Britain and France and the match was played on 19th and 20th August 1900 at Velodrome de Vincennes, a 20,000-seater cycling track.

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The team representing Great Britain was a club side ‘Devon & Somerset Wanderers’. In those days, in many events, such club sides used to represent a country. Same things happened in football and rugby. The club was founded by William Donne and consisted of players from ‘Castle Cary Cricket Club’, five of whom played in the match. Some former students of Blundell's School also featured in the match for Britain. The French team, on the other hand, was mostly made of English expats coming primarily from two Paris based clubs, Union CC and Standard Athletic.

Interestingly, the teams agreed to play a 12-a-side game and hence manual adjustments were required for the scoreboard. On day one, Great Britain team batted first and scored 117 for the loss of 11 wickets. Frederick Cumming was the highest scorer with 38. For the French team, certain W Andersen picked up four wickets. 

In response, the French team scored 78 in their first innings with the last man J Braid top-scoring with 25. For Great Britain, FW Christian took seven wickets. There were five consecutive scores of zero on the scorecard. 

In the second innings, the English team posted 145/5 and declared to give the French team a target of 185. There were fifties from Charles Beachcroft and Alfred Bowerman. The target was too much for France as they were all out for just 26 runs. There were six zeroes and three scores of one as Montagu Toller picked up seven wickets in that innings. 

In this way, Great Britain won the only Olympics Gold medal in cricket. Interestingly, at that time the winners were given Silver medal and the losers Bronze medals along with the replica of Eiffel Tower for all players. The players also did not realize that they took part in the Olympics. There were much reporting in the newspapers in London and most other parts of the UK. Finally, in 1912, the International Olympic Committee met to compile the list of all events which should have been included as part of Olympics till then and this cricket match in 1900 got the nod. Hence, Great Britain was awarded Gold and France silver for the match which was over on 20th August 1900.


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