DUBAI: Cricket’s return to the Olympics is moving closer, with the possibility that it could do so in the T10 format. That has emerged in the wake of the ICC’s scheduling meetings for a new calendar from 2023 onwards, which took place last week, with the BCCI and ECB, two key boards in any push, showing renewed commitment to exploring ways to make it happen. Both the ECB and the BCCI have historically had reservations about the sport’s involvement in the tournament. However, Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, is understood to have raised the subject in last week’s meetings of the ICC’s chief executives’ committee, which was centred on agreeing the international calendar from 2023 to 2031. The idea was generally well received. The ICC meeting was followed by a meeting of the Apex Council of the BCCI, which also gave conditional support to cricket’s inclusion in the Games. The BCCI have long been unconvinced by their need for involvement in the Olympics and were reluctant to cede any authority of the sport to the Indian Olympic Association. At this stage, they appear confident their power will not be diluted. The BCCI have also confirmed they will send a women’s team to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022. While the Olympic format has yet to be decided – the chief executives’ committee meets again in a couple of weeks and are likely to set up a working party to explore the options –– there is growing support for the T10 version. With the entire tournament needing to be squeezed into a window of around 10 days, and a desire to use the event to spread the growth of the game globally, the shorter format would allow more teams to compete and necessitate the use of fewer pitches. A T10 game typically takes around 90 minutes. One CEO involved in the meeting suggested it was “inevitable” the ECB would suggest using the 100-ball format. Another insisted T20 remained the favoured format, arguing that promoting a fourth international format could dilute the long-term value of T20 leagues. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires any sport competing within the Games to use a format recognised at a global level and while there have been no ICC-organised global T10 events, the ICC does sanction the playing of the Abu Dhabi T10 (that applies to that specific tournament and not the format as such). That means the Olympics decision could have repercussions for the ‘extra’ event in the global cycle, which has already been approved by the ICC board. Although the working assumption, at present, is that the event would be an ODI competition ––- a return of the Champions Trophy in essence if not name –– there are those who feel it should be a T10 competition which leads to Olympics qualification. The earliest possible date for cricket’s inclusion in the Games would be the LA Olympics in 2028, but the 2032 Olympics, likely to be staged in Brisbane, might be a more realistic target.