Home > Canada > Opinion: Canada needs an inkblot approach for Cricket Development…

Opinion: Canada needs an inkblot approach for Cricket Development…

There are 2 cricket associates, USA and Canada, that have a problem that no other associate does at the momment. That is the problem of size. These countries are essentially, well, continents!. The problem of size obviously creates the problem of having the players available (a person living in Vancouver would need to fly for 6 hours to get to Toronto, and end up losing a total of 9 hours total because of the time difference). Andy Pick, the Canadian coach, is on record saying that he was told by CCA that getting players together regularly is out of the question, because of the cost and time associated with that.

However, one has to understand, that there is an obvious approach to fixing this issue. Forget about the whole country. In fact, forget about a whole province as well (Canadian province of Ontario is 5 times the size of Holland). Instead what they can do is to focus all their funds, all their academies, all their development, expansion etc on 1 city. In this case, that would be Toronto.

Toronto metro area has a population of about 5.7 million people. That is more than enough people to be able to build a strong, theoratically even a test stadard team. New Zealand is a country of 3.5 million people, and look where they are even despite the fact that Cricket is not the number 1 sport over there.

CCAs funds etc are good enough if they were to only take Toronto into account. They are obviously not good enough if they were to take the whole of Canada into account. So why even bother? It IS possible to get quite a decent fan following JUST from Toronto for the national team. Even if you can get 50K people to back the Canadian team, it would not only be good enough in the short run, but in fact, it would be better than most of the associates.

Having 50 K people just in one city will improve match attendance when Canada plays in Toronto, It will create a good culture of Cricket in a limited area, it will make all the top faciltiies and coaching available within a 30 minute drive (as opposed to a 6 hour flight). The best players will be in a limited area as well, and will get to play a lot of cricket with each other, hence improving them even further. The biggest thing however will be that the city governments etc will take special interest, and funds etc will be easily available. The trick ofcourse is that the current Ontario govt $1mil must be used to increase the player base in Toronto at the junior level i.e. new entrants to the game. And if the net is spread wide enough, it will include mainstream players as well.

Once the game is firmly established in Toronto, and the standard of the team is quite high as well (read: non reliance on Austrlian/Kiwi FC players), the CCA should be having enough money to expand to other areas, and even television coverage of a decent performance will spur on game play in other areas.

If after Toronto, CCA focusses only on Ontario, they will be hitting 12 million population of Canada, nearly half of Canada.

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Categories: Canada
  1. Nishadh Rego
    October 13, 2006 at 12:32 am

    Do you really think that ignoring the rest of the country and focusing on toronto is the right option by any stretch of imagination? The CCA must work more closely in forming efficient, and effective state boards and systems that will work closely with the central body. I think if Canadian cricket has to be successful, there has to be a national 3 or 4 day league where teams are willing to travel the distance to play the sport. Where do the finances for this come from? Mainstream the bloody sport and bring in the sponsors!

    Another more feasible solution would be a have a zonal competition where the states compete, and the top 2 states from each zone competes in a elite tournament or league based system to determine the final standings in the last month or so of the season.

  2. October 13, 2006 at 12:49 am

    Rego…. they already have that system….. they have inter provincial tournament every year (I think 1 year it is only for U19, and the next it is open)…. their regional leagues are actually, pretty well organized………

    Within a state, there may be more than 1 league, there are at least 4 in Ontario in my knowledge i.e. Ottawa Valley, Toronto and District, South Ontario and Hamilton and District leagues…….. and the champions do play off after the season to see the best club in the state……

    But to answer your question….. yes I do think that an inkblot approach may be better…….. I dont know about other countries, but I do know that Zimbabwe never had much cricket outside of Harare till they became a test team….. Kenya still doesnt have much cricket outside of Nairobi….. and to give a better example, Pakistan didnt have many players coming from outside of Karachi or Lahore till the late 80s…………

    if 20% of the country is just concentrated in 1 city, like Toronto, wont there be better returns on investment if the logistical expenses are taken out of the equation by focussing only on that 20% of the population for the time being?

  3. Bensti
    October 13, 2006 at 1:54 am

    No, exactly the opposite needs to happen in Canada.

    The current obsession with Toronto and in particular the T&D league needs to be broken.

    It has held back cricket in Canada for at least a decade.

    There are very good development programs in Manitoba, Vancouver and Victoria that are producing homegrown/generation cricketers.

    Having spoken to people in Alberta, they too are in the early stages of introducing the sport to born and bred Canadians via a schools initiative.

    About half of Canada’s cricketers currently live outside of Toronto.

    British Columbia alone has over 80 teams competing in three leagues.

    The key is to spread the game even wider than it is now, which would encourage national broadcasters and tabloids to take an interest in the sport.

  4. October 13, 2006 at 2:59 am

    Bensti,

    Wouldnt the local broadcaster be easier to tackle rather than the national broadcaster? I dont think that with their current particicaption levels of 15K cricketers Canada can think of interesting national broadcasters beyond the occasional cricket clip…… Now if there are 50K followers and players in Toronto, you are talking about local newspapers, local television (I am assuming their television set up is also based on affiliates like the US), local sponsors getting seriously interested and paying big bucks………

    On your second point, I thought TDCL was the biggest league with 34-35 clubs and about 65-70 teams…… are you sure BMCL has 80 teams? BMCL also has Seattle based clubs and teams so I dont think you should count those……..

    And ideally we would all like to have a regional city based 10 team league (conglomerate of the club leagues) playing each other 2 times on a home and away basis. But keeping Canada’s size into account, that is just not possible because it is going to cost 1 such city team about $40K just for the travel and lodging for the season……..

    Just for kicks…. imagine a 10 team national Canadian league. Teams are Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria. Teams are selected from the respective leagues (all these cities have a league) and made to play against each other over 18 weeks.

    That would be ideal, but too costly, and can probably not be done for the short to medium term……..

  5. Bensti
    October 13, 2006 at 4:08 am

    The BCMCL isn’t the only competition in British Columbia.

    The BCMCL has about 61 senior teams and several junior teams.

    There is also the league on Vancouver Island and another small mid-island league.

    National broadcasters are interested in covering events that will be watched throughout the nation.

    The most powerful cricketing nations have made sure that the game is strong in as many centres as possible.

    As I said, the progress made in Manitoba has been encouraging, with a number of born and bred Canadians going on to play representative cricket.

    The Alberta ex-pat community is super keen to expand the game into the mainstream via the schools and junior clubs.

    In Victoria and Vancouver, a steady stream of born and bred crickters continue to excel.

    Canadian cricket is run from Toronto and unfortunately this has created a system of nepotism, bias, discrimination and a lack of recognition for coaches, administrators, players and stakeholders in the other regions.

    So many good players from outside of Toronto have been ignored by the selectors over the years.

    We all want to see cricket expand around the world. The more people that are playing the game over a wider area, the stronger it will become.

    Canada is a mini-version of what is going on globally. It must continue to popularize the game beyond Toronto.

  6. October 13, 2006 at 11:25 am

    It is popularizing the game Beyond Toronto….. whether CCA or the ICC helps them in that or not, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary etc will get more and more people into the game just because of the fact that there is tonnes of immigration from Cricketing centers that goes on over there…..

    Bensti, you are saying that if 20K total people are playing the game ALL OVER canada, about 2K per major city, that is better than all 20K playing cricket in 1 city? (in this case Toronto)

    I think that is a difference of perception……. perhaps I am unable to get my point across effectively…..

    btw….. National broadcasters are interested in numbers…. geographical spread doesnt come into the picture UNLESS it is backed by numbers………. do you think that they will be interested in a program that has a viewership of only 1000 people just because they are spread across the whole of Canada? In fact, 9 times out of 10, that is likely to be an inhibiting factor…….

    And I am talking about the next 5-10 years ….. not the ideal 50 year scenario when there are be 100K cricketers in every major city of Canada

  7. Bensti
    October 13, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Point 1: National broadcasters and broadsheets are looking for subject items that will appeal to a majority of people within the area that the service is provided.

    If cricket is popular in the majority of Canadian provinces then CBC or others may take an interest.

    This will only happen when those involved in the CCA concede that the majority of Canadian cricketers live outside Toronto.

    Instead of ignoring Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, the CCA needs to invest in it more heavilly. But of course, what is good for Canadian cricket doesn’t always fit into the Toronto dominated CCA agenda.

    Point 2: Yes it is better to have 20k spread over 6 cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary) in Canada rather than just one.
    Diversity of ideas, coaching styles, conditions, provincial and local council support, more potential for the construction of new grounds. The more seeds that are planted over a wider area, the more chance there is that the seed will grow. Toronto may have a large number of ex-pats but it will never have the grounds or infrustructure in the inner-city to cater for sustained growth; Unless of course the ex-pats gravitate to the outer suburbs, build new grounds and take their cricket clubs with them.

    In a nutshell, a city like Toronto can only cater for a certain amount of cricket. For Canada to reach say 50,000 in playing numbers, the other cities will have to make significant contributions, more born and bred players will have to take the game to the suburbs and grounds will have to be built in areas where none currently exist.

    Diversification is the key; Do not place all your eggs in one basket.

  8. Ray
    October 17, 2006 at 9:22 am

    The inkblot approach sums up Canadian cricket as things stand now:
    -The Toronto & District CL has controlled its provincial board (Ontario CA) and OCA and its allies have run the CCA forever.
    -All international matches are played in and around Toronto because this is where the only turf wickets in the country are situated.
    -Of the domestically-based members of the national team, most play in the T&DCL.
    -Provincial and regional leagues programs are self-funded.

    This suggests dilution of Canadian resources are not an issue. One of Canada’s problems is not that funding is spread too thinly across Canada but lack of funds in general.

    Another Canadian problem is, as Bensti has suggested, the Toronto leadership’s lack of vision and progressiveness. It is most often the provincial associations (ex. Alberta), leagues, individual clubs or private individuals that are responsible for initiatives aimed at spreading and developing cricket outside the immigrant communities. These efforts are not supported by the CCA because of lack of funds and lack of a progressive mentality. With the Toronto crowd steering the ship recruitment and junior programs are haphazard, apathy reigns amongst the rank and file, and the CCA can is characterized by disorganization and lack of planning. Things are better than under the last administration but I can tell you first hand that there is much to be desired.

    So I would disagree that a further concentration of resources in Toronto would help matters. Instead, it would be preferable to spread a little more authority and responsibility across Canada.

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