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Gavaskar hopes cricket returns to CG

"As a cricketer, I'd love the exposure that the Commonwealth Games will give to our game," said Gavaskar, who is in Melbourne as a sports ambassador for New Delhi ? host of the 2010 Games.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2006 11:21 IST

India's former cricket captain Sunil Gavasker wants his sport to return to the Commonwealth Games.

"As a cricketer, I'd love the exposure that the Commonwealth Games will give to our game, getting cricket into a multiple sports event would be a big boost," said Gavaskar, who is in Melbourne as a sports ambassador for New Delhi— host of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Inviting the athletes and sports lovers from the Commonwealth nations to come to New Delhi in 2010, Gavaskar said, "Come to New Delhi and see us Indians lay out the red carpet."

Gavaskar is among the Indian celebrities involved in Sunday's closing ceremonies, when Melbourne hands the Commonwealth Games flag over to New Delhi.

The Commonwealth Games Federation is keen to bring cricket into the games that feature athletes from 71 countries and territories that were part of the former British empire.

Cricket was part of the Commonwealth Games in 1998, but not all nations sent their strongest teams and England did not compete. New Delhi wanted cricket included on the 2010 programme and the CGF sought the support of the International Cricket Council, but nothing has been agreed.

The ICC had agreed to the 50-overs a side one-day format for 1998, but this time suggested considering the Twenty/20 version. The Indian cricket board was not keen on the shorter format.

"Cricket's got caught in a debate between the 50- and 20-over formats," says Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the 2010 organizing committee.

CGF president Michael Fennell believes cricket would be an ideal sport for the games because it is an exemplary Commonwealth sport. Gavaskar said the 1998 experience was a potential roadblock.

"The experience of the 1998 Commonwealth Games wasn't a very good one, one major cricket-playing country decided to stay away and others sent second-string sides," said Gavaskar.

"Having cricket in the Commonwealth Games will be great," he said. "But if countries are not going to field full-strength teams, it's better that cricket doesn't come in."

Gavaskar said Melbourne had set a new benchmark by the way it had staged the games.

"Now it's for India to improve it further at New Delhi in 2010."

First Published: Mar 25, 2006 11:21 IST