The Olympics start tonight.
I love the Olympics.
I have loved the Olympics my entire life.
The first games I remember watching was 1984 Los Angeles. That was the year the Soviet bloc nations boycotted the Olympics in retaliation for the US boycotting 1980 Moscow which was in retaliation to the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 (everything always comes down to Afghanistan…) Because of the boycott, the US cleaned up, medal count wise. They won 174 total medals that year. The next best was West Germany with 59.
Eight year old me watched with rapt attention for the entire fortnight. I didn’t give two shits about invasions or boycotts or geopolitical conflicts…I just liked to watch Carl Lewis tear it up.
(Link above goes to Lewis’s win in the 200 meters. Which is my favorite track and field event (despite the fact that I am long distance guy). Michael Johnson’s win in the 200 at 1996 Atlanta is one of my personal favorite sporting moments ever.)
I have watch large swaths of most Olympics since, and actually enjoy the Winter Games a bit more than their summer cousin. Though one of my other favorite sporting moments was during Beijing 2008: I was at a bar in New York City when Jason Leczak came from nowhere on the last leg to win the 400m Medley Relay and keep Michael Phelps’ dream of eight golds alive.
This year’s games are, of course, in London. And this blog is, of course, about cricket.
And so: This summer there will be a tantalizing test match happening 200 miles north in London, but having international cricket in England during a London Olympics is not a complete rarity.
In 1908, the first time London were Olympic hosts, the England cricket team were in Australia for the Ashes, but the last match of that series (a series that England lost 4-1) was in February of that year. They did not play another match in 1908.
There was the County Championship, of course. Yorkshire won it that year (shocking).
However, in 1948, the second and most recent time London hosted the games, England played 11 test matches, including hosting the Ashes series. However, none of the matches were played during the two week period of the Olympics. England lost those Ashes, too, falling to the visitors 4-0. The series is known for being Don Bradman’s last appearance in England.
England also traveled to the West Indies in the spring of that year, and traveled down to South Africa in the Fall.
Glamorgan won the County Championship that season. It was their first title.
Despite its immense and worldwide popularity, cricket has only featured in the Olympics once: in 1900 in Paris. There was one 12 a side match played between England and France, though the French side was made up of primarily Englishman.
England won by 158 runs.
Cricket has not made an appearance since.
However, with the popularity of Twenty20, I could see it making an appearance at some point. Shoot, if the Olympics can survive BMX bikes, Rhythmic Gymnastics, and Ryan Seacrest, it can handle cricket.
Now off to watch the opening ceremonies. Expect more Olympic talk here throughout the next couple of weeks.