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The plan is to host the event at Edgbaston, Warwickshire’s home ground, which is at a distance of a mile or so from central Birmingham © Getty Images

Cricket is all set to be a part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and hopefully in the successive edition in 2026 as well. While women’s cricket will be a part of the event in Dublin 2022, the men’s version might feature in Birmingham 2026 if the city wins the bid to host the event. Men’s cricket has featured once in Commonwealth in 1998 in Malaysia. The format of the game that year was 50 overs per side, and South Africa emerged as the winner, defeating Australia. But this time it will be played in the T20 format.

Cricket is not a mandatory sport in the Commonwealth, but is a part of the optional sports that the hosting city can stage if they see it as a necessity, with the help of the sport’s governing body. The men’s cricket has not been a guaranteed at this stage but the International Cricket Council (ICC) has initiated talks for inclusion of women’s cricket in the 2022 Games and successful staging of the same.

Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball, who is also the chief of the bidding team, has spoken to ESPNcricinfo in this regard. Snowball has previously been head of sports operations for Olympics 2012 and been the chief operating officer for Rugby 2015, and also been a part of the organising committee of World Cup 2016.

Currently, the plan is to host the event at Edgbaston, Warwickshire’s home ground, which is at a distance of a mile or so from central Birmingham. Rest of the games can be hosted at Portland Road ground, only 3 miles away from Edgbaston, or with New Road Ground being just 33 miles away, it could be held in any of the neighboring countries.

Birmingham would also need the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) approval to host the event. Former captain of the England team and current Director of Cricket, Andrew Strauss has backed this idea, but added a hint of caution by saying that it will not just be the ECB involved in the decision making process. The Commonwealth Games Federation had invited the ICC to participate in the 2018 Games, to be held in Gold Coast, Australia but cancelled the participation after they were rebuffed by individual boards.

In 1998, 16 teams had taken part in Commonwealth Games but England did not, as the dates were clashing with the end of their domestic season. Seven of the then nine Test teams did, with Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and New Zealand among them. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Jamaica, Canada, Malaysia, Kenya and Zimbabwe were the other participants.

The ECB now understands the need to rearrange sports by keeping the global audience in mind and the need to spread cricket both locally and to the world.

The stance of India also tends to be an important one here.

Apart from Birmingham, Rome was another city that was in the competition to be the hosting city for 2022 Games but left the bid in between. Liverpool is queuing up to be the host city and a decision between it and Birmingham as England’s candidate city will be decided later this year. The other cities include Edmonton in Canada and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The final decision on the venue of the host city is likely to be made before November 2019.