The Ontario XI v MCC 50-over game is taking place today (July 20th, 2012) at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club, King City, Ontario.
Ontario team: Rizwan Cheema (captain), Saad Nazar, Tristan Ali, Varun Sehdev, Sharoze Sham, Khalid Ammar, Gyles Dias, Faad Khadn , Syed Abbas, Pushjeet, Damien Holder, Nikhil Dutta.
Ontario made 200 all out in 45 overs with captain Rizwan Cheema leading the way with 76.
MCC passed the total in the 48th over with 5 wickets in hand.
A momento to remind cricket lovers visiting the Maple Leaf Cricket Club in the future that the MCC “woz ‘ere” in 2012 is presented by MCC Tour Manager Mr. Steve Salisbury (right of picture) to Rizwan Cheema (left of main trio in picture) after Friday’s game between the MCC and an Ontario XI. Leslie Soobrian (President of the Cricket Council of Ontario, and of the Canadian Commonwealth Cricket Association of Toronto). Rizwan Cheema showed his power during an innings of 76 and some other shots that show he has a good eye for the ball. His team battled away trying to defend a total of around 200, and, as he said, given a couple more chances against this MCC touring team, the Ontario XI might pull off a win.
But there are some other features of this south-west pitch at Maple Leaf CC that are important in the development of cricket across Canada. There is the well-prepared, well-cut outfield and there is the square where Noel the groundsman, a Barbadian, is watering the wicket used on Friday so the ground can be refreshed for use on another day.
The scoreboard for this ground has improved since my last visit, but some a local resource ought really to be available to take responsibility for updating the board. Last weekend in Vancouver tributes were paid to the late Cliff Cox’s efforts for Canadian cricket. Efforts based on planning and hard work that lead to respect from the cricketing community well beyond Canada’s borders. It was mentioned during one of the tributes that this MCC tour to Canada was confirmed sometime last year, which raises various internal issues on why the games were not pushed out to the Canadian public by the national governing body for cricket until very late in the day. Locally, in Ontario, some squabbles behind the scenes saw some last-minute flip-flops about the venue – Maple Leaf or Malton – so almost no publicity went out to promote the game. A problem which happens too often in Canadian cricket, and in our southern neighbours, the USA, when it comes to cricket.
So what turned into a battling performance by an Ontario side was seen by a very small crowd – until the roadworks to resurface 15th Sideroad rumbled away during the last hour or so of play, which doubled the crowd using a liberal count. There was a lack of pre-game publicity and, in addition to a lack of scoreboard operator, a dedicated resource to perform scorebook duties was not available. So “we” need to fix the scorecards on Saturday as it is unlikely that a player who hit ten boundaries for the MCC only scored 7 runs, and someone else might not have scored very many runs. So a development need still exists in the heartland of Canadian cricket, and it should be remembered that the MCC works closely with the ICC’s Development Programme (or Program, in North American) in arranging these tours. There are, as both Praim Persaud and Leslie Soobrian pointed out, lessons to be learned in cricket playing techniques from a visiting team of varied backgrounds and cricketing experience. But, especially in a wet British summer, the visitors had to adjust to local playing conditions in Vancouver, Victoria (BC), Calgary and now Toronto.
In the very short-term, an Ontario XI play the MCC in a T20 match at Malton Cricket Club today – Saturday July 21st at noon. Then on Sunday, the MCC plays a Canadian Select XI at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club on Avenue Road, Toronto in a 50 overs a side game. A start time of 10.30 am was floating in the air on Friday afternoon for the game at the Toronto club. Quite possibly two or three players who impressed in the recent Atlantic T20 championships in Stratford, Prince Edward Island might be in the Canadian Select XI, or whatever title the team bears.
But many cricket matches will be taking place in the Greater Toronto Area this weekend, one being the Ontario XI v the MCC at Malton at noon. Half of the teams in the OPL meet later in the day at Malton to decide the July 2012 champions. It remains unclear – at least to me – which province, if any, won the 2011 National T20 Championship in cricket. But there are rumours of some kind of inter-provincial event in August 2012. Different people seem to have heard different dates blowing in the wind.