Cricket is set to return to the Asian Games programme at Hangzhou 2022 ©Getty Images

The International Cricket Council's (ICC) head of global development has described the sport's inclusion on the Asian Games programme as "brilliant".

Cricket was a medal sport at the Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014 Games, before dropping off the programme for Jakarta-Palembang 2018.

However, it is set to return at Hangzhou 2022 and the ICC is hopeful it will also be played at Nagoya 2026.

"We are in discussion with the 2026 Asian Games in Nagoya, around cricket’s inclusion there," William Glenwright told Emerging Cricket.

Glenwright, the ICC head of global development, when asked about the potential for cricket to try and be included at the Olympic Games in 2032 and beyond, was keen to highlight the benefits of Asian Games inclusion.

"The Olympics is the game-changer, but it’s not just the Olympics that can drive those benefits for our members," Glenwright said.

"Cricket’s inclusion in the Asian Games for 2022 is brilliant for our Asian members, many of whom are able to get access to Government funding or Government facilities and programmes as a result of that."

India did not take part in the Asian Games cricket contest in either 2010 or 2014 ©Getty Images
India did not take part in the Asian Games cricket contest in either 2010 or 2014 ©Getty Images

Played in the Twenty20 format, Pakistan won the women's gold medal at both the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games.

Bangladesh won the men's title in 2010, with Sri Lanka victorious in 2014.

Five of the 10 top-ranked men's 20-over teams are from Asia, while four of the top 10 nations in the women's Twenty20 rankings are Asian.

Importantly for the long-term growth of the sport, other Asian teams outside the top 10 have shown rapid improvement in recent years, notably Nepal's men's side and the Thai women, who qualified for the Women's T20 World Cup earlier this year.

Beyond the Asian Games, women's cricket is set to appear at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Glenwright told Emerging Cricket that discussions had been held to try and add the sport to both the African Games and Pan American Games.