Grass roots cricket in Canada - a challenge for the CCA

August 9, 2005

Canada will strut upon the world stage of cricket again in 2007, but what is happening at the grassroots of cricket in Canada.

On a Sunday evening in the Spring of 2005 I met with some Sri Lankan cricketers using a school yard baseball diamond to play 'their game'. These new Canadians have been unable to find a place and space for 'their' cricket in any of the Toronto leagues, as the costs are beyond their reach. Pooling their scarce resources they have acquired the basics, of a wicket, a bat and a ball, to satisfy their passion for our game.

More recently I came across a couple of cricket Dads playing with their children on one of the Sunnybrook Park wickets. They had fabricated a wicket of palings and were using tennis balls, one for each of the kids. The families were new Canadians, who were more interested in passing on their cricket culture to their very Canadian accented children than joing a cricket club. Will the children be found a space and place within the Canadian cricket community?

and the list goes on and on and on.

Without development at the grassroots of Canadian cricket what can we expect for the future?

What we do know is that the elimination of cricket in the state schools in England is having a critical effect. So much so that the England Cricket Board has initiated a programme to raise 55 million pounds sterling to resuscitate the game in the state funded schools.

It is highly unlikely that Canada will follow that path, although cricket is the school yard game in many schools .... for a couple of months each year. The paucity of cricket in Canadian schools has as much to do with our climatic conditions as any other factor. Two months a year in the school yard is not a cricketer going to make.

Therefore the role of cricket clubs becomes critical. There are Canadian clubs, and associations, which have junior cricket teams and development programmes. There are some privately operated academies for juniors, but they are few and far between.

Is cricket in Canada to continue on the reliance of new Canadians, who arrive with a cricket culture, and come with a passion and love for our game? Is cricket in Canada going to continue with astroturf and matting wickets? Are we to see the continuance of cricket coaches without certification? Will we look to other sports in Canada to learn what should be done, and what should not be done? We know that junior baseball is in trouble in Canada, as is ice hockey, (but for different reasons), and can we learn from their distress?

Cricket will survive in Canada for as long as we continue to have immigration. Is that good enough to regularly witness Canada on the world stage of cricket? We have relied too much on the "deemed nationals" and the pre-educated cricketers. We have relied on administrators who have no expertise in the administration of clubs or associations. These voluntary heros at the grass roots need as much help as the prospects for the national team. Is the national team assisted by the national association? One might presume so, but without reports widely distributed there can only be conjecture. What to do? How to persuade the national association that they have an obligation to at least try to communicate. Ah, that is the question ... and thereีs the rub. (Jon Harris)

"There are innumerable questions to which the inquisitive mind can in this state receive no answer". (Samuel Johnston 1709-1774)