Cricket has never had an easy introduction to the former countries of the British Commonwealth. The West Indies had their racial problems in gaining acceptance as a cricketing power, Australia faced incessant ribbing about being "lower class" so did India and Pakistan My point is; there was always a struggle. I do not want to delve into the socio-economic structures of these various countries in relation to the game; that is another argument in itself.
Suffice it to say; the non-white population did not have an easy task of being accepted into the cricketing fraternity. Examine if you will, the case of the West Indies. For many years the basic structure of the teams emanating from the islands would be 5-6 white batsmen and 5 black bowlers. The reasoning for this according to CLR James is that the white officers taught the black population to bowl so that the white batsmen would get a good knock.
My purpose here is not to illustrate or give a reason for West Indian nationhood, but to show that the forces working against the West Indian players and would be administrators were tremendous and far more daunting than approaching a corporation for sponsorship. Enough to say that there were significant racial issues in gaining acceptance as a cricketing power. However, they did not stagnate or give up trying to become a power.
Were they laughed at? I am sure they were. Here was a fledgling former colony trying to cross swords with the best in England. What cheek! Still though, they persevered.
So, examine if you will the case. Here we have a fledgling team, poorly trained, ill equipped and facing the state of being a comedy show in every English club they played at. There was little to no infrastructure in any of the islands; clubs that existed were only open to a certain population. How then, did these fellows manage to dominate cricket for 20 years after the initial stages of embarrassment and denial?
The answer is simple. They were proud to be representing the islands, they were proud to come from Trinidad, Jamaica etc.
Here, I would like to show you the parallels and very striking similarities. We live in a primarily immigrant country. We are all proud to have a cricketing heritage. Our national teams are poorly trained in comparison to the current test powers, we will face a beating in South Africa, our under 19 team faced many good hidings in New Zealand. However, the doors are wide open to us. There are no Queen's Park CCs to segregate the population, there are easy accesses to excellent pitches and professional gyms are similarly accessible. How then I ask, can we not have a working, viable national level team? As the CCA is so proud of commenting, the Canada/USA game is the oldest series in the world, where is the result of all this latent time?
As players we must not give up hope. Think of the tremendous problems that Headley, Constantine, Sonny Ramadhin and CLR James faced in their time, they made a path for us to follow.
The minds of those great men were not colonized, they refused to be stuck in the past and ruminate about "what can be done" They managed to break free of the stagnation that stifles creativity.
My friends, all I see when I visit all the various levels of cricket in Toronto are men who are happy with the status quo. They are happy to play against the same team year after year because they are afraid to challenge the League authority. I see the same attitude in the league executive bar few. For the 12 years of my living in Canada, 5 years playing in Toronto I have not seen a marked improvement in the standard of league leadership at all. All changes I have seen in player standard and development are club driven. Imagine this; the ICC adopted coloured clothing for 50 over games years ago, Toronto and District did not.
I am very disappointed knowing that the facilities here exist for real developmental programmes but no one seems to want to take advantage of them.
As administrators we need to formulate a structured plan and stay firm with it and as players we need to question the status quo, we need to constantly formulate ideas to stay creative. Then and only then we can finally move towards progress.
the League executives need to visit one of the many laser eye correction
clinics in the city. Their vision seems to be a little fuzzy.
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