In 1900, Great Britain won the only Olympic cricket tournament to have been held – but they were totally unaware they had even competed in the Games.
At the 1896 Games in Athens it was intended that cricket would be included, but a lack of entries meant plans were quietly shelved. Four years later in Paris, four teams entered – Great Britain, France, Belgium and Holland – but in the event, only one match was played, between Great Britain and France. Holland and Belgium had originally been touted as co-hosts for the second Olympiad but those plans faltered and the two countries’ entries went the same way. …..
The Great Britain cricket side was not a nationally selected XI but a touring club team, Devon & Somerset Wanderers. …….. The French side was anything but, formed largely of expat Englishmen, and was selected from two Paris-based teams – Union CC and Standard Athletic. ……..
It was agreed by the captains that the game would be 12-a-side. ……. Great Britain batted first and scored a creditable 117, largely thanks to 23 from Charles Beachcroft, who opened for Exeter, and the Old Blundellian Frederick Cumming, who top-scored with 38. France were then bowled out for 78. The British scored 145 for 5 second time around, with fifties from Beachcroft and Alfred Bowerman, setting the hosts a target of 185. In the event, this proved way beyond them, and they were bowled out for 26, with Montagu Toller, who had played county cricket for Devon in 1897, taking 7 for 9.
The winners were awarded silver medals, the French bronze ones – both XIIs also received miniature replicas of the 11-year-old Eiffel Tower.