COOKING THE BOOKS

23 June 2004

Opinion from Jon Harris

The cricket scorebook is just as important to our game as the bat, the ball, and the stumps. The minute details recorded by diligent and knowledgeable scorers are the method used to decide the outcome of a match. This is so important, and critical to the match, that it is usual for the two scorers to work side by side, in order to balance the books. This truism applies from the grass roots friendly game in Canada to the participation of Canada in international cricket.

The Laws of cricket charge umpires with the responsibility of verifying the correctness of the scores. The umpires shall satisfy themselves as to the correctness of the number of runs scored, the wickets that have fallen and, where appropriate, the number of overs bowled. They shall agree these with the scorers at least at every interval, (other than a drink interval), and at the conclusion of the match.

Given that there is a fundamental necessity in our game to be precise with our scorebook records, I am led to ask the question why is it in Canadian cricket that we cannot ask for that high level of standard be mandatory in other records which are required within the administration of our game?

According to Deb Das, the USA Cricket Association has a 10 region set-up, with 600 clubs and up to 15,000 club cricketers. As I have indicated before, the regurgitation of the mysterious 12,000 club cricketers in Canada just does not stand up to scrutiny, especially as there is no national data base of players to collate and verify the numbers.

The inflated number of Canadian cricketers certainly would not be acceptable in our scorebooks. Unfortunately this type of discrepancy is only the tip of the iceberg of discrepancies in the records of accounts. (A minor correction here, 'it would be the tip of the iceberg if the three most signicant cricket associations in Canada had maintained a set of books'.).

I came across an example of shoddy record keeping. It was a one line item in a Canadian Cricket Association financial statement, from the Edwardian era, which showed as an expense item:-     

Ambassador's Visit - Woolmer            $3,385.08.

Readers might know that I wrote to Bob Woolmer about the cost to Canada of his first visit, especially in the context of his characterization of the visit being 'a total waste of time'.

Part of Ambassador Woolmer's reply was as follows:-   

  "I am staggered by the amount I stayed three nights at US$55.00  ... and the money for the Hotel can be claimed back from the ICC ... my total bill for extras came to $85.00.  Where .... the 3 grand plus (came) from is mind boggling! I actually have a budget to help Canadian cricket and it is certainly not the intention of the ICC or myself to spend the amounts that appear on the balance sheet.".

Therefore we can deduce that the cost to the Edwardian administration of Ambassador Woolmer's visit was $250.00.  This begs the question, what in green blazers happened to the THREE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS. Sorry, I forgot to credit the $250 for accommodation and the extras.

Whatever the amount, it would sure buy a lot of balls.

There are other questions I should ask about the monies transferred from the ICC to the CCA in the Edwardian era. It's only peanuts compared to what came into the CCA account: just a trivial amount of $60,000 in the last year of the Edwardian era which I would like to see investigated. A senior banker in Vancouver has advised me that the boys in blue have the authority to require banks to open their records, there being no need to deal with nonexistent financial records of the various cricket associations in Canada.

I am sure that the Sennick administration will produce a set of books and that they will be audited and certified by an auditor with professional qualifications. What Canadian cricketers should understand is that the ICC rules are clear that evidence of audited books shall have been presented and accepted by the membership of an applicant country for seven consecutive years prior to the submission of an application for O.D.I. status. (Translated into the Canadian reality that means the earliest possible date for application is 2011/2012.). There are other qualification criteria to be met for ODI status, such as the certification of cricket coaches, scorers and umpires through national organisations answerable to the Canadian Cricket Association, and as we all know there are at present no such organisations in Canada

There was no scorebook, (financial records), handed over to the Sennick administration. Because of this situation, we are at risk that history may repeat itself. This happens because we do not have a culture in Canadian cricket of subjecting situations we learn about to a critical analysis. I regret to advise that the new administration does not appear to be interested in understanding the depth and breadth of the historical problems it has inherited. Perhaps that should be rephrased. The old scorebook has ended up in the trash and so we cannot learn from it. However we can remember how the game was played in the Edwardian era.

The governance of Canadian cricket is such that there is no understanding of Canada's tradition of a loyal opposition, which is a long established right and duty. I claim that right, on behalf of all Canadian cricketers, for the love of the game. (Jon Harris).

Footnote:- In addition to questioning the number of cricketers in Canada, Robert Weekes reported a couple of years ago that he had been advised by the CCA that there were 600 certified umpires. Having heard Weekes ask for verification of these numbers I contacted him to arrange a meeting with the CCA President. Cricketers would know that there was no meeting and Weekes was fired. A pity, for he did an enormous amount of work on behalf of Canadian cricket. It does not matter what is in the scorebook beside his name, we will remember how he played the game.