This Day in History (19-Aug-1900) – Start of the one & only Olympic cricket match, in Paris

Cricket was also originally scheduled as an Olympic sport in 1896. Owing to insufficient entries, what would have been the only team sport at the first Modern Olympics was not held. Originally, teams representing Belgium, France, Great Britain, and the Netherlands were scheduled to compete in the 1900 tournament. Belgium and the Netherlands pulled out of the competition, leaving Great Britain to play France. In keeping with the informal nature of the Paris Games, two teams were enough to make an Olympic competition, which remains unique in Olympic history. The game was played at the Municipal Velodrome de Vincennes, which is still in use today, and the banked cycling track formed an unusual boundary for the cricket pitch.

France, the hosts, drew the team from just two clubs: the now defunct Union Club and the Standard Athletic Club which had been formed in 1890 by English workmen imported to construct the Eiffel Tower. Majority of the “French” team were, in fact, English expatriates. The visitors were the “Devon & Somerset Wanderers Cricket Club” a well established touring side. The match was originally arranged with the usual eleven players in each team but, an additional player was brought into each team at the last minute. Although the game was essentially between two club sides, posters and handbills give the occasion a flavor by announcing that it was a match between France and England.

The visitors were all out for 117 runs. The host team replied with a score of 78. With an overnight lead of 39 the “Wanderers” gave a vastly improved batting display in the second innings and declared their innings closed at 145 runs for 5 wickets. Needing 185 runs to win, the French batting completely fell apart in the second innings. “Wanderers” finally won by 158 runs with five minutes to spare. The Great Britain team was awarded silver medals and the French team bronze medals. The match was formally recognised as being an Olympic contest in 1912, and the medals were later reassigned as gold and silver.



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