Toronto Cricket Academy - success at all levels

19 November 2004

Zubin Surkari, the centurion in the current international match between the United Arab Emirates and Canada, is a graduate of the Toronto Cricket Academy and the beneficiary of the (certified) coaching talents of Brian Hale.

Brian Hale supervises his team

In a recent filming of the TCA for a documentary about cricket in Canada, it was quite obvious that the 'coach' has the respect of all members of the Toronto Cricket Academy. The chill and dampness of an early October Sunday in Sunnybrook Park did not deter the enthusiasm of these young cricketers during the six or seven hours they were involved in the filming. There was an obvious respect for the discipline they had already learned from 'Coach'. Every time the film maker asked 'Coach' to have his charges essentially reenact a cricket scenario, these young cricketers discarded their windbreakers and got on with the job of simulating some aspect of a game of cricket.

As in all film making, there is a convoluted process of setting up each 'shot'. The boom was moved ever closer and closer to the 'action', and still these cricketers managed to resist looking at the camera. Given instructions, through their coach, they responded as if they were in the middle of a real match. The endlessly repeated excercise required commitment from the boys, as well as an ability to focus on what they were supposed to do, and what they were not to do. It was quite obvious that these were trained cricketers.

It was fascinating to watch a batsman simulating a shot and seeing the ball thrown in the direction of a fielder, who ran towards the ball and threw himself forward to make a diving catch. The dramatic catch was invariably made. How could these young cricketers do this at will? Simply put, the answer is, they are coached in such drills. They not only have developed very advanced modern physical cricket skills, but have made a commitment to the discipline necessary in successful cricketers.

Watching the TCA team play in a regular season match is an object lesson in the 'spirit of cricket'. There is no running at the umpire in an attempt to influence the outcome of an appeal. There is no expression of dissent when the 'appeal' is denied. Whether they win or lose, the team lines up to shake hands with the other team. The coaching of these young cricketerrs has gone far beyond the ability to 'play' cricket. They have been coached to reflexively project 'the spirit of the game'. They applaud a good catch, even when one of their team has to make the long walk back to the pavillion.

A measure of character can also be seen in the commitment Ashish Bagai has to his academic programme, for which he has foregone his place in the Canadian side currently in the UAE. From this example, and others, it is not surprising that the Toronto Cricket Academy is now feeding into the national team. The film maker chose well in selecting this group of cricketers. Canada has chosen well in selecting graduates of the TCA. Congratulations to Brian and Zubin, and we all look forward to seeing the pride of the TCA when Ashish graduates from the University of Western Ontario. (Jon Harris).

Filming in Sunnybrook