Statue of the Olympic Games logo under a sunsetYear 2023

Cricket: seize the opportunity of the 2028 Olympics

After more than a century of absence, cricket, seemingly coming out of a prolonged nap, is preparing to make a triumphant return to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. It looks like the ICC (International Cricket Council) has finally found its way back to the Olympics, having been lost in the Olympic sports desert for decades. Initially forgotten as the distant cousin at a family reunion, cricket finally managed to invite itself to the Olympic party, thanks to a perseverance worthy of a marathoner. So, prepare your bats and balls, cricket is back for LA28, ready to surprise more than one spectator who will probably ask: What is this sport again?

This return, after a unique appearance at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, marks a golden opportunity for cricket to captivate a new global audience and solidify its place on the international sports scene. The T20 format, known for its fast pace, promises close matches in about three hours, offering action and overall reach.

What changes from their matches that lasts forever (5 days sometimes). In addition, her successful presence as a women’s event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games illustrates her potential for growth and engagement with fans.

05 December

11 min

Bat swing during a cricket match
©credit Anushree Fadnavis/REUTERS

Batting in time: cricket and its Olympic journey

Modern cricket, originating from the English rural games of the 16th century, became England’s national summer sport, gaining international prestige. His presence at the Olympics was inconsistent. In 1900, during his first and last trip to the Olympic Games in Paris, cricket experienced fierce competition between a plethora of teams… well, two to be exact: Great Britain and France. The Anglo-French rivalry took an unexpected turn, with France playing with a team mainly composed of English expatriates, who lost against… Well, the cousins who stayed in Britain. A major tournament was planned for 1904, but it was cancelled, and cricket decided to shun the Olympics for more than a century.

The exclusion of cricket after 1900 was due to its lack of global popularity at the time, the absence of competitive teams, and high logistical and financial constraints, as cricket required specialized fields. Moreover, the extended duration of the cricket matches did not correspond to the fast and compact format of the Olympic Games. Despite its popularity exploding in Commonwealth countries, where it is almost as sacred as 4pm tea, cricket has long been shunned by the Olympic Games (more than a century to be more precise). In 2020, the ICC made its groupie and went into seduction mode for the inclusion of the T20 format in the 2028 Olympics.The International Olympic Committee, after probably googling “What is cricket?” , finally said, “Why not?” And here we are, cricket is back, but he’s not flying. Cricket organisations face the challenge of simplifying and promoting this ancient sport to a diverse global audience, marking a new milestone in the Olympic history of cricket.

Interview in the field of cricket
©website ICC Cricket

Understanding cricket: a challenge for sports communication

Cricket, popular in some regions, has to overcome communication and promotion challenges on a global scale. Barriers include cultural barriers, financial difficulties and the impact of innovative technologies. Ah, cricket, this good old sport that has long seemed to be an exclusive club for white men, a bit like a circle of gentlemen where you forget to invite the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this image discouraged more than one person from other demographic groups from joining the party. Can you imagine? “Sorry, you don’t fit the branding of our ancestral sport.” This perception of social exclusion has made cricket as diverse as a parade of 1950s models. Fortunately, it seems that the cricket world is starting to open its eyes, perhaps realizing that diversity does not rhyme with adversity. After all, who knows? Maybe one day cricket will be as varied as ice cream flavors in a Ben & Jerry’s store!

Moreover, the precarious financial situation of nations associated with cricket is critical. These nations, important for the global development of cricket, suffer from the lack of financial support from the International Cricket Council (ICC). The early withdrawal of Hong Kong cricket player Christopher Carter illustrates the financial hardship and lack of support experienced by players from the associated nations. Subsequently, the Twenty20 format of cricket brought innovations, opening up business opportunities through digitization, data analysis and gamification. These developments have boosted viewer engagement as an update that fixes all bugs at once. Fans now have such an enriched experience that they could almost smell the grass from their couch.

Finally, the adoption of the franchise model in professional cricket, such as IPL in India, proved its commercial success. This format attracts a wider audience, including more women and children, demonstrating the potential for cricket to expand beyond its traditional strongholds. To make cricket globally popular, organizations need to modernize their communication, much like selling a state-of-the-art smartphone. It’s about making the sport as simple and addictive as a Netflix series, turning the old gentleman of cricket into an Instagram superstar. Basically, cricket must shine, seduce, and become the subject of conversation of all.

T20 Big Dash League Poster
©credit Fox Sports

Communication strategies to introduce cricket

Modern cricket relies on digitization to improve the fan experience. Organizations like the Indian Premier League (IPL) have launched apps and are using social media to stream matches and deliver interactive content, bringing fans closer to the action. Games like the IPL Fantasy League engage fans in a playful way. In addition, influential celebrities and cricketers have become Instagram influencers. Take Indian Virat Kohli, for example, who uses his social media presence as a conductor wields his wand. Each post is a stroke of genius to engage the fans, a bit like a Kardashian of cricket. Then there are legends like MS Dhoni, who, apart from their talent in the field, shine in commercials. We see them everywhere, from the billboard to the TV spot, transforming cricket into a product as essential as a new version of the iPhone. In short, these cricket stars are no longer content with hitting balls, they are also hitting in the public eye, giving cricket the kind of visibility that the angels of reality television have always dreamed of.

Live cricket events have become theme park experiences. Take the Big Bash League in Australia, for example. It’s more than just a cricket match; it’s an interactive area where you can almost expect Mickey Mouse to come and serve you hot dogs between the overs (A cricket “over” is a series of six consecutive legal pitches made by the same pitcher). These events enrich the spectators’ experience, allowing them to feel as involved as if they were on the field, but without sweat and dust. And in this era of diversity and inclusion, cricket does not stand on the sidelines. Initiatives like the Women’s Big Bash League and campaigns like Cricket Australia’s “#WatchMe” are there to remind people that women’s cricket is not just a “bonus track”, but must be placed with the Certified Singles. These efforts show that cricket is for everyone, not just men who like to wear white and run on the grass.

To deepen fan engagement, organizations could produce behind-the-scenes documentary series, such as The Amazon Prime Test on the Australian cricket team. The use of augmented reality, such as that used by Star Sports India during IPL matches, could improve the viewing experience. In addition, collaboration with influencers from diverse cultural backgrounds, similar to partnerships between cricketers and Bollywood stars, could help position cricket as a global and accessible sport.

At KT Sport we note in any case that the 2 most advanced countries in terms of communication around cricket, are the two finalists of the last cricket world cup that took place on November 19, 2023.

Supporters during cricket
©website The bridge

Social media: create and federate a cricket community

The engagement of cricket fans has taken it to the next level, turning it into a kind of science fiction. Now, we use digital technologies and platforms as we would in an episode of “Black Mirror”, but without the dystopian aspects. The International Cricket Council (ICC) even partnered with the Near Foundation, playing with NEAR’s Web3 ecosystem like a child discovering a new high-tech toy. Their goal? Boost fan engagement until the end of 2025. Cricket, with this in mind, has morphed into a cool geek, mastering blockchain for more creative purposes than simply selling cat NFTs. This initiative demonstrates that cricket is not only a sport of the past, but an innovative player in terms of communication and engagement, like a greatMaster Father TikTok. Cricket Australia shows how a cloud-based strategy can deliver a complete fan experience, from booking tickets to orientation in the stadium. This demonstrates cricket’s ambition to improve the fan experience.

The ICC does not just talk about digital, it lives it. Take the KCC mobile app from Kuwait, which is like the Swiss army knife of cricket: live scores, analysis, and even a helping hand to coaches to choose their team. Then there’s Canada’s social media campaign for the U19 Cricket World Cup, which boosted fan engagement like a viral kitten video. Uganda has seen its Twitter activity take off, probably sharing more than memes and hashtags. But the ICC doesn’t stop there. With her Cricket 4 Good program, she shows that cricket can also be a social superhero. Take the cricket program for people with disabilities in Samoa: it has hired hundreds of people, proving that cricket is not just a sport, but a source of inspiration for new sports experiences. Who would have thought so? Cricket is not only balls and bats, but also a giant heart.

Cricket fans have an active role within a team or league, they can interact in real time with the players, and be in the action thanks to virtual reality. Cricket teams inject a dose of creativity into their engagement strategies. They offer free Wi-Fi, HD scoreboards, and ticketing systems worthy of a space expedition, to make fan-team interaction as smooth as a surfer’s glide in Hawaii. With Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) solutions, a new era of fan connection is dawning, both in stadiums and online. Cricket, embracing technology, creates a futuristic experience where, instead of robots, there are balls and bats.

French cricket team
©credit Équipe de France

Cricket on French soil: promotion and integration

Cricket in France is like the newcomer in the big leagues. Less popular than in India, where cricket is almost a religion, France still sees its little protégé grow, thanks to local and national federations. The French Cricket Federation (FFC) played the pioneer, introducing cricket into schools as civic education was introduced. The idea? To make cricket an integral part of French culture, like wine or cheese (there is still work).

In France, cricket has had to overcome several challenges, including the lack of adequate facilities, forcing the French national team to train abroad to access quality terrains The FFC effort to promote cricket in France, although impressive, remains modest compared to BCCI’s huge promotional machine in India. The initiative of the French Cricket Federation (FFC) to bring cricket into French schools is a bit like trying to introduce sushi into traditional French gastronomy. This is a bold step towards the recognition of a sport that, until now, seemed as exotic as kangaroos in Brittany. By targeting young people, the FFC hopes to entrench cricket in French sports culture, turning it from “what is this sport?” We’re playing cricket at school. They bet on the values of cricket, such as teamwork and sportsmanship, to seduce students. Imagine math lessons in the morning and cricket lessons in the afternoon. The FFC hopes that this strategy will make cricket as familiar in France as football or tennis, and who knows, maybe one day, cricket will be the new passion of the French.

The comparison between France and India in the context of cricket illustrates not only the cultural differences, but also the divergent strategies adopted by the respective federations. While India continues to strengthen its position as a cricket superpower, France is taking significant steps to establish the sport within its sports culture, although in a more progressive way and adapted to its national context.

Exploring the fascinating world of cricket, we discovered how this ancient sport is constantly reinventing itself, creating exciting opportunities for sports communication professionals. Through this series of articles, we discussed the exciting history of cricket, its fan engagement strategies, and its evolution in unexpected territories like France. As we look forward to his return to the 2028 Olympics, stay tuned for more insightful analysis and compelling stories about cricket. Are you as excited as we are to see cricket shine on the Olympic stage? Share your thoughts and enthusiasm for this historic moment in the comments below!

Other articles that are worth a look like a redif of the final France 98

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