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Cricket Isn’t a Paris Olympic Sport — But It Will Be at the 2028 L.A. Games

Lovers of the sport are already gearing up for the game's return at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, as the men's T20 World Cup is played in the U.S. this summer. 

By Caitlin Schunn

You won’t hear the cracking of the cricket bats in France, but in just four short years fans will celebrate the return of the game to the Los Angeles Olympics after a 128-year absence.

“The sport’s inclusion at LA28 will be an opportunity for cricket to extend its global footprint and encourage more countries to take up the sport seriously,” Indian javelin athlete Neeraj Chopra said to Olympics.com.

Cricket has exploded in popularity in the U.S. recently on the heels of creating Major League Cricket. More Americans have tuned into the game as well as the U.S. co-hosted the men’s Twenty20 (T20) World Cup in June 2024. Notably, both men’s and women’s teams will be on the pitch for T20 cricket matches.

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How did the game start? How is it played? We have the answers to all your questions ahead of the 2028 Olympics.

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Where did the game of cricket originate?

Cricket likely started as far back as 1066 as a childhood past-time among kids living in a forest called The Weald in southeastern England, according to the governing body of world cricket, called the Imperial Cricket Conference (ICC).

The first time cricket was referenced as an adult sport was 1611, the ICC said. By the 17th century, the first English “county teams” were formed, and the first known game of “teams” was played in 1709. Cricket quickly spread as a popular sport throughout England, the ICC said, and the first Women’s Cricket games were played in 1745. The first “Laws of Cricket” were written in 1744, making the sport more official.

Until this point, the game of cricket was similar to another English game called “bowls,” where players rolled the ball and tried to stop it from hitting a target. But by 1760, bowlers began to pitch and throw the ball, and the straight bat replaced the old “hockey-stick" style of bat, the ICC said.

Cricket spread across the world by the late 1700s, coming to North America as colonists from England settled. Not surprisingly, baseball’s origins come from an early form of cricket called "rounders," according to ESPN.

By the 18th century, cricket was introduced to the West Indies and to India by English colonists and reached Australia with colonization in 1788. Even people in New Zealand and South Africa were playing the sport by the early 19th century, according to the ICC.

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Phil Salt warms up playing Cricket on the field

How is cricket played and scored?

Cricket is one of the most widely-played sports in the world now, and the goal of the game is simple: score the most number of runs before the game is over.

Cricket is played with a bat and ball, and is divided into innings, according to Al Jazeera. In an inning, one team (consisting of 11 players) bats, while the other team bowls, or pitches the ball, and fields the ball. The batting team tries to score the most runs it can before time runs out, while the bowling team tries to prevent them from scoring. Then the two teams switch, and the bowling team gets to bat while the batting team gets to field.

Cricket is played on an oval-shaped field. The center part of the field is a rectangular area called the pitch. That’s where the two batters, the bowler and the wicket-keeper play. The other fielders are in the infield and outfield. In the pitch, the two batters stand on either end in front of three wooden sticks, known as wickets, to hit the ball from the bowler, according to Al Jazeera. To score a run, the batter hits the ball, and then together with their batting partner, they run to the opposite sides of the pitch before a fielder can return the ball, otherwise the batter is out. If both batters safely complete the run down the pitch, they score one run. If the batters run twice, they score two runs, and so on. If the batter hits the ball to the boundary rope, he or she scores four runs. If the batter hits the ball directly over the boundary without it touching the ground or being caught by a fielder, he or she scores six runs.

There are several ways to get a player out, according to Al Jazeera. If a player is “bowled,” it means the batter missed the ball, and it went on to hit a wicket behind them. A batter can be out if they hit the ball and a fielder catches it before it touches the ground. A batter can also be run-out if a fielder throws the ball at the wicket and hits it before the batter runs to the opposite side of the pitch.

There are three different match formats in cricket, some lasting days, but T20 matches will be played at the 2028 Olympics. In a T20 match, there is only one inning. That means a team has 20 “overs” — made up of six pitches — or 120 pitches total, to score the most number of runs. If ten players are “out” before that number, their batting chance is over. The matches usually last three to four hours, according to Al Jazeera.  

Cricket players are excited to see the game played on a global stage in Los Angeles.

“It can take cricket to new parts of the world, and let people who maybe haven’t seen cricket or played, develop a new love for the sport,” said England Women’s cricket player Freya Kemp said to the BBC.

Don't Miss

Watch live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26, on NBC and Peacock beginning at 12 p.m. ET. Telemundo will provide Spanish-language coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Primetime coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and Peacock.

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