League cricket- Sunday afternoon knockabout or National development prgramme?

27 July 2004

It is no secret that the structures of the leagues across Canada are very disjointed when it comes to an overall National structure. Since Mr Sennik came into power, our senior team has had a good measure of success in the Inter-Continental tournament, largely due to genuine leadership from the front by Captain Davison. However, this success does not take the temperature with the current league system and junior development programme. Certainly, ³Davo² has re-affirmed my faith in our cricketers. At a farewell dinner party prior to the team leaving for World Cup in South Africa, I made a public comment to the audience that these boys were ³History makers² They proved that in the tournament and they continued to do it at the Inter Continental. I believed then and now that Canada is at a point in evolution where we will be able to leave our mark constantly and consistently on world cricket. To accomplish this though, we need to amalgamate and tighten up our internal resources to continue the pace established by our recent successes.

Cricket has a unique ability to establish strong patriotic links to the country where it is being played and as we tangle with the question ³What is Canadian?² I believe that cricket will do its part to answer the question in the coming years. Since I began my involvement with canadacricket.com, my sole goal was to observe, write and possibly suggest ideas to make the linkages necessary for a strong National programme. Thus far my observations of Ontario clubs have led me to the conclusion that they are not interested in producing first class players, merely to be content with the various depictions of Sunday League games across the province. I hear horror stories of poorly maintained pitches, shoddy to no umpiring; no coaching system, bad management techniques and the list goes onŠ. The most significant of these issues though, are the structure of the leagues and clubs. In the Toronto & District League for example, you would be hard pressed to find a) A junior retention programme b) NCCP or otherwise qualified coaches on Club ³staff² and c) Two certified umpires per game. This leads to the club being heavily dependent on the talent of the individual player, his own drive and initiative as well as the chaos of the structure itself. This formula leads to one or two clubs standing out by simply taking advantage of the chaos as well as the production of players whose drive to player higher cricket stifled by the lack of a realistic goal.

This system cannot be sustained for any length of time to supply players to world-class calibre. We have gotten away with it for too long under the Edwardian years, but we need to stop, re-evaluate the goal and unify the leagues under a National Championship system. Part of the problem though, is a marked lack of interest in producing such a system by the clubs. How many, if any clubs have actually stood up to take the helm and clamour for a better league system? Are we so afraid of being Canadian? Or is it the fear of questioning the status quo and being marked for ³non selection.² Perhaps the clubs have learnt the game so well that all that is required is playing along and taking advantage of the disorganization?

I have no doubt that we will continue to have our successes at our present level, beating the non-Test playing nations under Davison¹s leadership. I also have no doubt that players across the country will strike centuries and take 5 wicket hauls as well as do tremendous feats of fielding. However, until the club leadership takes some initiative and a National system evolves it will all just be Sunday afternoon fun. The funny thing is evolution though, cannot be stopped, just ask any of the kids in my neighbourhood, playing a very Canadian game, Cricket in the Road.

(Colin Mohammed).