Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun

 I recently met the 'Mad Dogs Cricket Club', a team from Connecticut, U.S.A., who were visiting the Inverhaugh Cricket Club at their home ground near Guelph, Ontario.

On a previous visit to Inverhaugh I met cricketers from Sarasota, Florida, who expressed great delight in their visit despite the game being rained out.

On this early September day, in a bucolic setting on the banks of the Grand River, I had an opportunity to take a close look at the facilities. My initial reaction, in seeing the ground and facilities, was that the Inverhaugh C.C. is very well managed by the owners of the ground.

There are arrangements made for the cricketers to sit in comfort to watch the match, and canopies for the scorers. At this  point, the boundary could be extended by 10 to 20 yards on each end of the strip being used. In fact this is applicable to two thirds of the boundary which is marked by Canada's flag. Most assuredly this could be done when there is a game played from the centre of the square.

The Inverhaugh field matches the size of a number of 1st class grounds in the U.K., and in one instance matches the Canterbury ground by having a tree inside the field of play. Whether, or not, the 'Mad Dogs' were privy to the ground rules was irrelevant for the very friendly match in progress. The relevance for these visitors was the social interaction brought about by the arrangements for their mini tour, which included matches in Ajax and at Glendon College in Toronto.

The organisation of the Inverhaugh Cricket Club clearly demonstrates the viability, and desirability, of involving the club members in the functions necessary to make the operation work. This was demonstrated by the youngest member present, who spent the whole afternoon sifting the 'top dressing', which was to be applied to the 'square' prior to it being put to bed for the winter. His work was essential, in that he screened out the small pebbles from the soil. The dedication of  youngsters to the club is essential, for they are the future of cricket in Canada.

So what makes the Inverhaugh Cricket Club work? There is obviously committed leadership from the owners of the ground. But what motivates the players to work in order to earn their play? The environment would be one answer, but that is probably too simplistic. Perhaps one might ask what motivates joining a club? The need for social interaction might be one answer, but there are many cricketers who have not fit that model, Bradman being  the most famous example. The style of leadership might be another reason for working for a reward which is not mercenary.

The young lad sifting top dressing was content to be on his own, just as Bradman was for most of his youth. Is that what it takes to be a presence in a cricket team?  Probably not, for most  cricketer are gregarious. So what drives a youngster to devote an afternoon sifting dirt? I know that I spend a lot of time sifting dirt looking for that corrupting little pebble, which is probably why I have been given the title of 'The pariah of Canadian cricket'.

A fundamental requirement of the ICC for Canada to obtain ODI status is that we sift the pebbles from the top dressing in order to create the mandated turf wickets. Other matters required is a national junior development programme, which the Inverhaugh Cricket Club appears to innately understand and is leading by example. The friendly games at Inverhaugh demonstrate the understanding of the true spirit of cricket. This has been enough for them to have elicited at least one corporate sponsor.

Related to these issues is the following found In an article "Cricket in America - An Historical Summary", written by Deb K. Das.

"a different and less pleasant "rediscovery" of American cricket made its appearance in the 1970s. As cricket-loving immigrant populations grew in number in North America, their potential as a wealthy captive audience and a source of profit dawned on entrepreneurs, corporations, and organizations wanting in on the good thing. Even Disney and the ICC have been dancing around the issues in search of opportunities to make money off cricket in America. (and Canada).

The dilemma this creates for US (and Canadian) cricket in the 21st century is obvious. Should American (Canadian) cricket-lovers spend their money to see first-class cricketers from the rest of the world perform in local venues? Or should they invest their cash in developing local talent, eschewing the spectacle of first-class exhibitions for a gradual development of indigenous cricket? These options may not be mutually exclusive, but given the limited resources available for cricket in the USA (and Canada) in the first place, some difficult choices lie ahead.".

For more on Inverhaugh, see their web site.

An Inverhaugh album