O what a tangled web we weave...

Jon Harris
e-mail: hennessy.harris@sympatico.ca

O what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive! (Scott)

I was recently entertained to dinner on the patio of the Toronto Cricket Club. It was a very pleasant evening with lots of greetings by long time friends and acquaintances. As at all such times, when cricketers get together, stories are told. Some are new, some are old. Some are true, others are not. The world lives on telling stories, with television being the current medium telling the most stories. Television mirrors our human experience, in that the stories are repeated over and over again. Some of those stories are true, most of them are not.

I have to tell a story which is complicated, unpleasant and messy. I have to tell the story because the ICC Code 2000 tells me that cricketers must not bring our game into disrepute. The Code 2000 does not include the administrators of our game, but I think that it should. Cricketers who do bring our game into disrepute are subject to sanctions, as has already been demonstrated with respect to gambling and sledging in the international sphere of cricket.

What is currently at issue is that the Canadian Cricket Association appears to have entered into some agreements for the purposes of hosting the ICC Trophy 2001. Services and facilities were provided by various businesses, and at least two private cricket clubs. I am of the understanding that some of these agreement have not been kept. Payment for services is still outstanding. In one situation, court documents show that the Canadian Cricket Association Inc: is being sued for non-payment of fees for legal services, which I am given to understand are related to the ICC Trophy 2001.

Now here is the problem that I am grappling with. Our Canadian Cricket Association is a Corporation incorporated under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act. The incorporation # is 345741. The Registered Office is shown to be the Adelaide Street Post Office, P.O. Box 809. Toronto, M5C 2K1. I went to the Adelaide Street Post Office and had a look at P.O. Box 809 but there was no one there. Under the Act (s). 109(1)(a d). the CCA is required to keep copies of various documents, including the Minute Book and the by laws at their registered office for inspection. In my judgement there was not enough room in the mail box for all that material. Under the provisions specified in s. 111.1 of the Canada Corporations Act, these documents should be available for inspection in the Registered Office and you are supposed to be able to inspect these documents during reasonable business hours. Where are these documents? If we are to support the CCA, with our energy, our talent, our initiative, our resources, shouldn't we have an opportunity to be able unlock that mail box? In a figurative and a literal way shouldn't we be asking who has the key to that damned mail box? The database maintained by the Government of Canada with respect to corporations believes that there should be a maximum and minimum of 11 directors. There are currently six directors shown on the government database. So I have to pose the question who, or what, is this Canadian Cricket Association Inc? Where is their office? When can we go and inspect their documents? No record has yet been found of this entity, so maybe we should go and look into all those mail boxes in the Post Office on Edward Street. I wonder who would have the key?

So what is the story? The story is directly related to the tour to Canada by the West Indies "A" team is in jeopardy. The management of the Toronto Cricket Club are adamant that their private facilities will not be made available without the year old debt being satisfied. One member of the TCC, a member of the Cricket Committee provided the following statement, "We would dearly love to extend a welcome to the tourists but are increasingly aware that Canada's current cricket administrators abuse the goodwill that exists in clubs like ours. We are a private club and cannot sustain or condone these sorts of debts. Unfortunately we must take a stand and if that means ceasing to work with the present CCA personnel, then so be it. At this time, the chances of the West Indies A team playing at the ground are very slim, and that is a terrible shame.". It is my understanding that the Ajax Cricket Club, my old club, are also taking the same firm position with respect to the honouring of their agreement with the CCA

So what is the big deal? Why does the CCA hold off from settling these matters? Why not just pay up and get on with the business of cricket? Well, we must understand that the CCA has a mountain of debt and probably has a major cash flow problem. Given that there is pending litigation, and other considerations related to the credit history of the CCA, what would be the chances of the bank furnishing additional credit? Would you lend them money?

I asked a retired banker for his observations, the following is his response.

"Since entering into agreements or prior to, were the CCA owed money which has not materialized? Are they in fact chasing bad debts which may be the case for legal action? Where do they get their income from? Government or other such political body, sponsorship, clubs etc.. I, as a banker, would want to know their past financial history, have sight of their last Balance Sheet (audited...and not by Andersons), up to date mid term figures, both debtors and creditors, projections, new income and suggestions for increasing income. These are some answers to your question 'would I lend them any money'. Incumbent on this is my satisfaction that those I am dealing with know what they are doing and are honest and have the business at heart...what is their private stake in the venture or can they just walk away? Perhaps the administration does not need changing, perhaps it is the administrators and it's implementation. The moral..you ask! I am not a very good modern day banker in that I am not a proponent of credit. I prefer the old fashioned way of saving up a deposit and borrowing the rest. In this way you are giving the lender confidence that you are living within your means and can therefore afford the repayments...but of course things do change and go wrong but at least at the outset you are not too overstretched. Now where the CCA can build up a deposit and therefore be to some extent self sufficient is not for me to solve, and indeed is not modern day strategy.".

The risky game the CCA is playing has the potential to bring 'our game' into disrepute. Perhaps more to the point is the message it sends to the ICC and the West Indies Cricket Board. The World Cup 2007 is to be hosted by the WICB, with some games possibly played in North America. If you knew that there was a remote possibility that even one game might be played in Canada, would you take the risk of upsetting the ICC and The WICB?

The grounds at Ajax and the TCC are not vital for the visit of the Windies
team, for they could be readily be moved to public parks or north to King
City, where you many not get the same attendance figures. I am pretty
certain that the cricketers and the ICC, let alone the WICB, would be none
to pleased with that eventuality.

Where is the money going to come from for the transportation, accommodation, meals and other expenses for our visitors from the West Indies? I believe that for the CCA, Inc or otherwise, to enter into agreements with hotels, bus companies and other service providers in the full knowledge and understanding that they may be unable to pay the bill is fundamentally wrong, Some of our cricketer lawyers will soon set me straight on whether or not that would be legal or illegal, morality notwithstanding.

There is a moral to be found in most stories. I am not sure what the moral is for this particular story. I do believe that we need a change in the way our game is administered. If that means we have to change the administration, then so be it. Change is often difficult and sometimes messy. I think that this is one of those times. The timing of the next election presents the possibility that the present administration could be returned to office. If you, the cricketers, want change you have to start working to organize for it now, today. Tomorrow is always too late.

The key to change is held in the concept that the organizing is within the strategy. Once the strategy is developed, the organizing is designed to implement the strategy. Cricketers know this from playing our game. The classic field setting at the start of an innings is based on a pre-determined strategy. That field setting will usually change when the slower bowlers are called into action, because the strategy has changed. The captain is often looking for a different sort of catch when he makes a change. All of this collective knowledge that cricketers have can be used to influence an election. Within each club there has to be some idea, some consensus, about what changes are required in the administration our game. Do it now, tomorrow is always too late.


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