Which is the most successful team in cricket Olympics?

Cricket’s historical origins can be traced back to the 16th century as a recreational sport played by children in South East England. However, the first ever recognised professional cricket match was played between England and Australia in 1877. While club cricket and touring series were often held between teams of North America and England, it was not until the inter-war years, that cricket’s expansion across the globe took place professionally.

The first ever summer Olympics were held in 1896 in Athens. Cricket was slated to be one of the sports. However, the lack of entries cancelled the sport from the schedule of events. In the subsequent Olympics held in 1900 in Paris, four teams put forth their names for competing in cricket. These were Great Britain, France, Belgium and Netherlands. But before the games, Belgium and Netherlands withdrew as their bid to co-host the Olympics was not agreed upon. This led to Great Britain and France being the only two teams to compete in cricket at the 1900 Paris Olympics.

The one-off match played across two days was played at the Velodrome de Vincennes. As the name suggests, it was a cycling track. Great Britain was popular as England back then, and the French translation of England was Angleterre. Posters flew ahead of the big game regarding a French side taking on Angleterre in the Olympics.

Though the rules of the cricket do not allow more than eleven members in the playing side, an agreement was reached between the two teams. Both England and France fielded a 12-men side. The side represented by Great Britain was a collection of players from Devon and Somerset Wanderers club. These players were on a tour of France. The French side on the other hand had a side that was dominated by British immigrants.

THE MATCH

Out of the 24 players who played the match, only two players had previously played first class cricket. On 19th August, the first innings of the British side began. They were bowled out for 117. In response, the French were bowled out for 78. Frederick Christian claimed a seven-wicket haul. Overnight, the English side had a lead of 39 runs.

When play resumed the next day, English captain CBK Beachcroft and veteran first-class cricketer Alfred Bowerman reached a half century. They declared on 145, setting the French a target of 185 runs. The French opted for the defensive approach and tried to draw the match by playing out the day. At 4:55 p.m., with five minutes left for play, the French were all out for a mere 26 runs. Montagu Toller was the best bowler from the English side, claiming 7 wickets.

Back then, tmthe match was advertised as an exhibit and neither teams were aware that they had played an Olympic match. The Great Britain was side was awarded the silver, whereas the French got bronze. Both sides received a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower. When the event was recognised as an official Olympic match in 1912, the medals of both sides were upgraded to gold and silver.

In the 1904 Olympics, cricket was cancelled due to lack of entries and has never been a part of Olympics since then. However, after 128 years, cricket is set to return to the Olympics at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics as a men’s and women’s T20 tournament.

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