Sunday Morning Spin


Jon Harris

What to make of three hours, on a Sunday morning, spent watching Canadian kids 'play at cricket' in a private indoor practice facility? Who would dare invest the capital, time and energy, but a man with a love and passion for the game? Sherriff Boodhoo provides that opportunity for the development of young cricketers, with a certain recklessness and unrestrained joy.

The youngsters were oblivious to the financial risk of this venture, and were focused on trying to win a place on Team Canada's Under-13 and Under-15 squad. The winning of a place comes with both the honour of representing Canada at such an early age, and a trip to Florida or
Texas, to play in an international cricket tournament.

Canada, in securing a place to compete in the World Cup of Cricket 2003, is now obliged to swim with the sharks, or maybe dance with the wolves. The bar has been raised, but has the standard?

One of the parents at the Sunday morning practice, reflected on the resistance to his involvement in supporting his son's aspirations. The resistance could be attributed to benign neglect, for he was unable to locate an avenue for his energy. There was nothing he could join, nothing he could contribute to with his labour, skills, and money. The amorphous hand of an institutional structure was both unknown to him and invisible. Yet, unless things have changed overnight, don't we have baseball Dads, soccer Dads and the quintessential Canadian hockey Dads? These Dads know where, and how, and to whom they should make a contribution of time, energy and cash to the sports their son's play. So what is it about old cricketers that they do not appear to have the facility for organisation beyond the club level?

A recent report delivered by Robert Weekes, the International Cricket Council's Development Officer for the Americas, laid out a set of criteria for Canada to follow in order to learn how to 'swim with the sharks'. Part of that critique made it abundantly clear that to fail in the development of youth cricket would effectively eliminate Canada from participating at an international level by 2008. Perhaps that would be merciful, but it would be a betrayal of the aspirations of Canada's young cricketers.

It is obvious that there is a gap between the cricket clubs and the overarching associations. This gap appears to grow exponentially from the club level to the leagues, thence to the provincial association and finally to the void of the national level.

The geography of Canada complicates the problems of administration, and challenges communication skills. Do the plans range from coast to coast? Is there a structure in place with real people who have a clearly
enunciated mission statement? What are the plans for next year, and the next five, and who will oversee the development of strategy implementation? So where is the bridge to span the gaps, or is it a case that "never the twain shall meet"?

The buzz word of the era is transparency , but can one see through nothing? If there is a structure, but it cannot be seen, does the quality of invisibility lend itself to transparency? Without transparency where will the money come from, be it corporate or government.

Spin is an integral part of a cricketers lexicon. With spin a cricketer with skill can delude, beguile, and confuse. The innumerable variations of pace and flight, combined with the complexities of off-spin leg-spin, googly, chinaman, flipper et al are the techniques which obfuscate transparency, and are the result of intellectual and physical prowess. Those particular skills require endless hours of practice, and precision in delivery at the time of most tension and stress.

Should the skills of corporate governance with its positive spin be introduced to the young cricketers with all of its attendant guile? Is this the prescriptive necessary to aid and assist them to their goals? Or is their some other way which will inculcate the youth of Canadian cricket with values, and ethics, which the game's elders can be proud of?

There are more questions than answers. Do we still teach playing with a straight bat? Is the metaphor understood or is it lost in the mire of a sticky wicket.

If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
Or if the batsman thinks he's bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
They too shall perish unconsoled.

(Andrew Lang, 1844-1912)

Finally, and perhaps the most egregious, is the cricket Dad who suggested that he wanted to get political and find out who was running things and who was responsible for the decisions. He related that he was counseled against such action, because his son would never be selected. Power is often exercised in rude and crude ways. The only assurance that could be offered was that change happens 'one step at a time' and usually 'it is the first step that is difficult'.

What should we tell the proud Dads who wants to help? How can the Sherriff Boodhoo's be acknowledged, supported, and thanked for their efforts on behalf of Canadian cricket? There is need for change in the way Canadian cricket is administered. This should be demanded on behalf of those aspiring under 13 year-old players who enthusiastically practice in a wharehouse on a Sunday morning, when the frost is still on the pitch.

Finally, it should be acknowledged that cricket has a long history of being exclusive, and the Dads are effectively the present beneficiaries of that policy in Canada. This bodes the question of where are the Mums, the sisters, the wives, in the world of Canadian cricket? Is there no room? Don't we need them? Now, there is a whole 'other' story.

Note: Information on Sherriff Boodhoo's facility: Qasra Sports can be found at



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