On this day in September 1998, the first and only cricket medals in Commonwealth Games history were awarded. Australia were defeated by South Africa in the gold medal match, while New Zealand won the bronze medal in the one-day 50 over tournament.
Sixteen teams participated including many non-test cricket nations like Kenya, Scotland, Malaysia and Northern Ireland, however England chose not to send a team due to the clash with County cricket.
There were many individual stars from of world cricket including Sachin Tendulkar, Curtly Ambrose, Richard Richardson, Shaun Pollock, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis and Harbhajan Singh. Australia’s team was captained by Steve Waugh and included his brother Mark, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Michael Bevan and the current national coach Darren Lehmann.
Teams were divided into four pools, moving into a knockout stage of semi-finals and medal matches. In Australia’s pool were Antigua and Barbuda, Canada and India. Australia defeated Canada in their opening match by nine wickets, going on to top their pool. In the semi-final, they bundled New Zealand out for just 58 runs and surpassed their total for the loss of just one wicket. The Australia and South Africa final was a close game with Australia’s total of 183 runs insufficient to hold off South Africa who scored six for 184 runs off 45 overs.
The star with the bat during the tournament was Steve Waugh with unbeaten scores of 25, 90 and 100 – the only century in Commonwealth Games history.
As many of the test playing nations are also in the Commonwealth there has been high hopes the sport would return to the Games. When the Indian city of Delhi was awarded the 2010 Games it was expected the cricket powerhouse, where over 50% of Commonwealth resident reside, would add cricket to the competition program. But the likely 20-20 format of the tournament did not appeal to Indian cricket authorities. Following a 2006 board meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI), treasurer N Srinivasan said: “The BCCI does not want to play 20-20 cricket in the Commonwealth Games. We think that format should not be encouraged.”
Formal approaches by the Commonwealth Games Federation to the International Cricket Council in 2012 and 2014 requesting cricket’s inclusion in the 2014 and 2018 Games were formally rejected quashing any hope for Gold Coast adding the sport to the program.
“There were discussions about the inclusion of men’s and women’s Twenty20 cricket in both the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games but neither of these came to fruition,” an ICC spokesperson said in July 2014.
David Tarbotton for Commonwealth Games Australia