The ICC's Olympic proposal

It's been a while since we heard anything about the ICC's bid to get cricket included in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, but we finally have some concrete detail on what has been proposed.

Despite early suggestions that eight team tournaments for both men and women would be likely, the ICC has instead proposed six team T20 events, with teams qualifying only through the ICC rankings. I assume there'll be some sort of qualifying process should the West Indies, who naturally compete separately in the Olympics, be one of these six teams, with England's ranking being taken by a Great Britain team.

Whilst this would still likely see improved funding for most ICC associate members - which is obviously a positive - the scope of the ICC's proposals leave a lot to be desired.

The absence of an automatic spot for the hosts - in what in 2028 will be what the ICC say is one of their major growth markets - is puzzling. Using rankings is less than ideal too - the nature of them will make it so that, even five years out, it's highly unlikely that a team outside the current top ten will have any chance of qualifying.

A full qualifying pathway separate from all the other qualifying pathways might not be possible to arrange given the crowded calendar, but something like having the six participants be the top six teams from the previous T20 World Cup would at least give more teams a clear - if difficult - pathway to the tournament.

The ICC will no doubt point out that a study confirmed that the ICC rankings were suitable for deciding qualification for major tournaments, but given that this study was done by the same person who devised the ICC rankings, we can safely question just how independent the conclusion it drew was.

The reasons behind this seem to be that LA28 organisiers told the ICC that the "quality of the proposed event must not be compromised" and that it would need to be contested by the "very best". Not only does this run counter to some of the most memorable Olympic moments, it also raises questions around the future of international cricket. If the ICC think that only six teams constitute the "very best", how does that fit in with the wider conversation around international cricket and how many teams will be able to play Test cricket in future?

The positives of being in the Olympics still outweight the negatives. But this could be a lot better.

Women's Under-19 World Cup

The Women's Under-19 World Cup has been one of the most enjoyable tournaments in some time. The biggest women's international tournament ever  was always going to be interesting, and the passion amongst the particpants has been a joy to watch.

Rwanda and Indonesia both beating Zimbabwe have been great results for associate cricket, with Rwanda's win apparantly being their first in any World Cup in any sport.

Results at this level aren't as important as the actual event, but it's interesting to note that the two teams to leave without a win - Zimbabwe and the USA - are two teams that were granted automatic entry to the event. The men's Under-19 World Cup often ignores successful associates when deciding the 11 automatic entrants, but this is a new tournament and it would be great to see the ICC try something different.

After all, deciding qualification for an Under-19 tournament in 2025 based on the performances of a completely different cohort of Under-19 players in 2023 seems an odd decision. There is so little Under-19 Women's cricket that the ICC could, for the first time, have every team (other than hosts Thailand and Malaysia) qualify for the event with no automatic spots based on membership status.

As their plans for the Olympics mentioned above show though, that seems unlikely.

Thailand women treated unfairly again

After Thailand were cruelly denied an opportunity to reach the last ODI Women's World Cup after the qualifier was cancelled midway with Thailand well placed and the ICC resorting to use rankings which Thailand weren't eligible for, the Thai women's team again find themselves facing grossly unfair treatment at the hands of a giverning body.

This time it's the Asian Cricket Council who recently revealed a busy slate of international tournaments for the next two years, with pathway events for men in both 50-over and T20 forms, for women in T20 and an under-19 Asia Cup set to feature eight teams including three associate qualifiers.

But notable by their absence in the automatic qualifiers for the women's T20 Asia Cup are Thailand. The team got automatic entry to the 2022 tournament but will have to qualify for the 2024 edition. This too after they beat Pakistan in last year's event on their way to a place in the semi-finals. Bangladesh, who finished fifth last year, get automatic entry.

Thailand's women's players must be asking what more they have to do. As I have said before, things would be very different if it was the Thailand men's team playing like this.