Canadian cricket should benefit from the public airing provided by Friday’s (December 5) “Emerging Sports – Cricket” forum, hosted by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) at the Grand Empire Banquet and Convention Centre, Brampton, Ontario. The Hon. Bal Gosal. Canada’s Minister for Sports, delivered the keynote speech about the Federal Government’s interest and support for sports in Canada after welcoming remarks from officials of the ICCC.
Mr. Mukesh Narula, Canada’s national cricket coach, then acted as moderator for a panel discussion about Canadian cricket. Each of a four-person panel gave a short talk, with each talk followed by a few questions related to the specific talk. A general question and answer session then followed.
The cricket panel comprised Mr. Ben Kavenagh (Regional Development Manager, ICC Americas), Mr. Ingleton Liburd (General Manager, Cricket Canada), Ms. Monali Patel (a member of the Canadian women’s national team and a qualified coach) and Mr. Binoy Thomas (editor of “The Weekly Voice:). Ingleton Liburd joined the panel as a replacement for Cricket Canada President, Mr. Vimal Hardat, who was unable to attend.
It is both hoped and expected that video footage of at least the main speeches will become available in the near future. This report provides something of an overview about the organization of cricket in Canada. The forum provided a rare opportunity for some of those involved in Canadian cricket to outline in public what they are attempting to achieve.
Some may find it a significant deficiency that no elected President or board member of Cricket Canada or the Cricket Council of Ontario (the official governing body of cricket in Ontario) was on the panel. Some may have expected the President of the Toronto and District Cricket Association, Canada’s largest cricket league, to have cast a presence at this event.
It is possible that more details of what was said by the main speakers, particularly the keynote speech by Minister Gosal will appear over the course of the next few days. But, in the short- term, it was not possible to review the video of the Minister’s speech against some notes but something of a picture of the cricket in Canada universe unfolds from one of the answers Monali Patel provided during the general question and answer session.
It might come as a surprise to several of the questioners that there are just two employees of Cricket Canada at this time. Some aspects of how that situation arose are embedded in some of what follows. A clearer picture could emerge if the full video from the forum became available particularly if some of the recent history of Canadian cricket was added to the analysis.
But there are only 24 hours in each day and this article provides something of a start, or, perhaps, a re-start as the men’s national team prepares for the ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia that is being played in January 2015. It was mentioned that Canada will visit Zimbabwe as part of the preparations for the Namibia tournament. Canada needs to place in the top two in Namibia in order to begin the recovery of a High Performance Country ranking with the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s international governing body.
Cricket Canada: A “Top-down” organization with policies set by a “bottom-up” elected Boards
Cricket Canada as the sport’s national governing body has, as was said by Monali Patel in response to one of the questions at the Forum, a top-down structure as the body that oversees cricket in Canada. The extent to which Cricket Canada can operate effectively depends on a variety of resource issues, and is also impacted by the extent to which the various provincial bodies meet their responsibilities as cricket’s governing presence in each of Canada’s provinces – currently there are no affiliated governing bodies of cricket in any of the Canadian territories.
The national body has primary relationships with cricket’s global governing body, the International Cricket Council, especially via the ICC Americas Regional Development office, and with the Federal Sports Ministry. The bulk of Cricket Canada’s funding since Canada placed third in the 2001 ICC Trophy and qualified for the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup has come through the ICC.
But, as Ingleton Liburd, currently General Manager of Cricket Canada pointed out poor results in international matches against the leading ICC Associate and Affiliate countries – essentially in the post-2011 ICC World Cup timeframe – meant Canada lost the high-performance country ranking that had brought in significant additional funds from the ICC. His underlying point was you cannot blame the ICC for Canada’s failures on the field of play.
The Canadian mens’ national team playing record also had an adverse impact on corporate sponsorship funding but a relationship still exists with CIBC, based on what Liburd said during his introductory talk about Cricket Canada’s roles, responsibilities and activities. But preparations are taking place for the January 2015 World Cricket League Division Two tournament to be hosted in Namibia through which Canada can climb back up the rankings by placing in the top two.
National sports funding programs were outlined in the Forum’s keynote speech by the Honourable Bal Gosal, Canada’s Minister of State with responsibilities for Sports who represents one of the Federal ridings in Brampton. Mr. Gosal noted the Federal Government first provided support for Cricket Canada during 2007.
This federal financial support had clearly been linked to Canada’s participation in the 2007 ICC World Cup and Canada’s High Performance ranking with cricket’s global governing body. Mr. Binoy Thomas, editor of “The Weekly Post”, mentioned the $1 million dollar support that the Ontario Government had provided to cricket’s official governing body in Ontario, then the Ontario Cricket Association, during the course of the panel discussions.
Mr. Thomas mentioned this grant in the broader context of issues about transparency and visibility. Matters where the various cricketing bodies, including provincial bodies and leagues, need to make their activities and events known to the media in order to gain publicity.
In reality, the way the “top-down” governance model for Canadian cricket operates is based on policies set by an elected national board of directors. However, those directors are elected on a “bottom-up” basis within each province. In some provinces where more than one league exists the provincial governing body may comprise board members elected from the different leagues, although weighted voting systems may bring favour to one or more league(s). Something that has seen some falling out between different clubs and leagues in some of the provinces in recent years.
Ontario, the province with Canada’s largest number of clubs and leagues, currently has two governing bodies, one (the Cricket Council of Ontario) officially recognized by Cricket Canada while the other (the Ontario Cricket Association) is no longer officially recognized. There can be only one recognized provincial governing body.
Ingleton Liburd noted that as a result of some of these divides within provincial cricket organizations, as well as the existence of various recreational and schools cricket competitions, the number of cricket players in Canada officially reported to the ICC Americas Regional Office may be significantly lower than the overall number of active cricketers.
Binoy Thomas mentioned his awareness of some of the squabbles that have been taking place within cricket, particularly in Ontario. An awareness that sometimes came through phone calls from someone or other raising specific concerns and issues for which someone else may have called with a totally different perspective. He mentioned how some have initiated lawsuits, some of which have gained publicity, but others have not received much, if any, publicity to date.
For those unfamiliar with civil law cases, there would be court files and records about any such civil statements of claim, and statements of defence, even for cases where the person who raised the claim subsequently decides to discontinue the action.
Cricket Canada’s current financial position means there are no contracted players for the men’s national team. It was disappointing, in this and some other contexts, that the current President of Cricket Canada was unable to attend Friday’s Cricket Forum. General Manager Ingleton Liburd became the substitute which gave a bit of an old-fashioned “gentlemen” v “players” element as none of the “gentlemen” on the Cricket Canada board was on the panel. The substitute, Ingleton Liburd, is one of a mere two full-time employees of Cricket Canada; the other being national coach Mukesh Narula, who was the moderator of the forum.
Some might recall that the then President of Cricket Canada was not present at the media conference to announce the launch of All Star T20 cricket event at the Rogers Centre a couple of years ago The Board had presumably given its blessing to that event but left if to one of the professionals, or “players” in old fashioned parlance, to represent Cricket Canada at the media event. In fairness, the then President did link to the media conference for a while but seemed to say little about the theme of the day, the All Star game.
However, it is encouraging in the context of what Minister Gosal said about the availability of year-round indoor sports facilities in Canada to see that the Nova Scotia Cricket Association is to run some cricket training programs for youngsters at a facility in Halifax originally built for the Canada games. These latest Nova Scotia kids cricket opportunities are due to begin in early January 2015.
On the junior front came news, vis Cricket Canada, that the Toronto and District Cricket Association, the country’s largest cricket league, is to include an Under-11 section starting in 2015, which has been designated the Year of Sport in Canada. This designation was mentioned by Mr. Gosal and, if memory serves, was officially announced by the Governor General of Canada a few months ago.
Many thanks to the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce for hosting this Sports Forum and for the warm welcome to all who attended. Thanks also to the Federal Minister for Sports, Mr. Bal Gosal, for his presence and keynote address, and to the moderator, the cricket panel and those who asked questions or who provided opinions
It would, doubtless, have been interesting to hear the afternoon session about popular national sports in Canada that included speakers dealing with sports marketing, including representatives from Tennis Canada and the NBA in Canada, a Senior Vice President from TV and Broadcast Operations at Rogers Media and a sports marketing instructor from the Schulich School of Business at York University. But, after a busy week and an early start to the day, I concluded it was time for some rest before attempting to compile an initial report about the cricket forum.
It may be the case that I have the most complete raw video footage available (including sound) of the cricket forum. So copies need to be made for distribution to two or three contacts who were present for their potential use. Some passages from the Forum could be isolated and would make sense without any fancy editing, but it would make sense to edit some of the question and answer phases.
If one listens to Monali Patel’s perspective about Cricket Canada’s official role, she pointed out that roles and responsibilities are assigned to a range of people within each league and at the provincial and national levels, as well as in umpiring organizations. The various elected officials in these leagues and bodies, plus volunteers and any paid officers, need to perform their tasks and responsibilities if cricket is to advance.