By Tom Degun at the Royal Garden Hotel in London

Twenty20 cricket_England_v_West_IndiesApril 21 - The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) have stepped up their plans to get cricket included on the sports programme at the Commonwealth Games, admitting that they are hopeful it could feature as early as the 2018 competition in the Gold Coast.

The CGF revealed last May that getting the sport on the programme at the Commonwealth Games was a priority and the issue was discussed at their Executive Board meeting here.

Bruce Robertson, the CGF vice-president who chaired the majority of the two-day meeting, revealed that they are close to getting cricket onto the programme at the Commonwealth Youth Games in St Lucia in 2017 in a move that could pave the way for it to appear at Gold Coast 2018.

"Getting cricket on the programme at the Commonwealth Youth Games in St Lucia is a strong possibility because it is something that St Lucia has expressed they are very interested in doing," he told insidethegames.

"That is the first step to getting the sport into Commonwealth Games.

"Whether or not it gets on the programme in time for 2018 is largely up to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and we are certainly hopeful that it is something they will try to make happen.

"I think it would be a great thing to help profile the sport in the Commonwealth and to encourage youth to get involved and we would obviously welcome the move.

"I think it is a win-win situation if we can get it."

Cricket was played for the only time at a Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 but Gold Coast 2018 chairman Mark Stockwell has already expressed his wish to have it at the Games in Australia, insisting it would add "an extra bit of magic" to the event.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat also told insidethegames earlier this year that his organisation believe the sport will feature at the Commonwealth Games in the future meaning that the move appears increasingly realistic.

"In my travels throughout the Commonwealth countries I have seen there are two really unifying sports - cricket for men, and netball for women," said Stockwell.

"At the moment, cricket is not one of the optional sports for the Gold Coast Games.

"But cricket can be accepted as a sport by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

"We also need to get assurances from the ICC they can fit it into their calendar and that we can have the best Twenty20 [cricketers] available."

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