Reminiscing about his gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, former South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis said the inclusion of women’s cricket in the quadrennial event is fantastic news as it will provide the players with much-needed exposure. Women’s cricket is set to be part of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games after the Commonwealth Games Federation nominated its inclusion in the 2022 edition. The nomination was made at the Executive Board meeting of the CGF in Birmingham. The decision, however, is yet to be ratified by the CGF members. “It’s fantastic news that women’s T20 cricket could be returning to the Commonwealth Games, it’s been far too long,” Kallis wrote in his column for the ICC.
Cricket has made just one appearance at the CWG previously, with 16 men’s teams playing the ODI format in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. “Even back in 1998 there was talk about the event being a 20-over competition, so it’s finally come true it seems.” With Cricket enjoying a strong fan base in the Commonwealth nations, including Australia, India, South Africa, and New Zealand, Kallis feels the T20 will fit perfectly in the CWG. “That format of T20 lends itself perfectly to an event like the Commonwealth Games, which is over in a couple of weeks. And cricket is so loved in the Commonwealth too,” Kallis wrote.
“It’s a great idea to get it back in the event and give the sport and the women’s players that exposure. I just hope cricket will now establish itself at the event.” In 1998, South Africa had stood top of the podium. Australia had clinched the silver medal while New Zealand had bagged the bronze. “I was only a youngster and I just remember being really excited to get the call-up. Our team was captained by Shaun Pollock and included the likes of Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Hershelle Gibbs,” Kallis recollects.
“When you look back at the team now it was the core of players that took South Africa forward in the next few years.” Kallis considers returning home with the gold medal as one of the highlights of his career and said the podium finish helped boost the confidence of the team that went on to win the Champions Trophy later that year. “When I look back on my career that chance to play for South Africa at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur is right up there. Winning a gold gave us loads of confidence and we won the Champions Trophy in Bangladesh later that year too,” he wrote.
Chasing 183 to win against Australia in the final, Kallis’ watchful knock off 44 from 96 balls saw South Africa through to 184/6 with four overs to spare. “The final against Australia was magnificent and I’ve very fond memories of getting the gold medal. It certainly ranks right up there in all of my cricket memories.