China's budding love affair with cricket could take off if the International Cricket Council decides to push boundaries by getting Twenty20 into the 2020 Olympic Games.
'If the Olympics were to happen, it would be fascinating to see how quickly China might develop as a genuine force in the game,' Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said.
Hong Kong Cricket Association secretary John Cribbin said the ICC annual conference in Hong Kong starting next Sunday might be a watershed for the game, with Olympic participation on the agenda.
'Clearly the game in China will get a huge boost if cricket is in the Olympics,' Cribbin said. 'And I know there is strong support from most of the cricketing community for Olympic participation.'
The sport received a massive fillip this month when International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said he was keen to see cricket become an Olympic sport.'The ICC will decide [in Hong Kong] whether they will make an application for making cricket an Olympic sport,' Rogge told an English newspaper. 'We would welcome an application.'
Cribbin said the ICC's 95 associate and affiliate members had thrown their support behind the idea.
'Last year, all the associates and affiliate members passed a unanimous resolution for cricket to be at the Olympics. I also know the majority of the 10 full members also support this,' Cribbin said.
Worryingly, India and England are against the growing movement for varying reasons, Cribbin says.
'I believe England think an Olympics would disrupt their summer, the usual time an Olympic Games is held, and would have a serious impact financially,' Cribbin said. 'As for India, the reasons are more complex. It could be political as I don't think the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] and the Indian Olympic Committee see eye to eye. The IPL [Indian Premier League] ... might also be against an Olympics.'
India did not take part in December's Asian Games in Guangzhou when cricket - Twenty20 - made its debut.
Deutrom, who will be pushing for Olympic participation next week, believed the world governing body should embrace an Olympic strategy quickly as time was running out. Sports hoping to be in the 2020 Games should apply before 2013.
'Senior people I know in hockey and rugby have told me how baffling it is that cricket has not chased it [Olympic participation]. Jacques Rogge was very complimentary about the game, even saying he enjoys watching it,' Deutrom said.
After years of trying to break in, golf and rugby sevens will be Olympic sports at the 2016 Games.
'[Cricket is] an important, popular sport and very powerful on television. It's a sport with a great tradition where mostly you have a respect of the ethics. It's ... a game of patience, a game of great skill and the only sport where after five days, you can have a draw. In the Olympics, it will not be test cricket, of course,' Rogge said.