Having won the toss the new administration decided to play their 3rd XI - the opening batsman has been bowled first ball

Jon Harris
16 February 2004  

At the time of WC 2003, I copied the following from a report on the BBC  web page for Canada:-  "It is estimated that there are 12,000 players within the Canadian Cricket Association, playing in 400 teams around 145  grounds."  The editorial comment followed, "Not bad for a country with a  population of 30 million - just over half of England.".  This may have been tongue in cheek, however, I suspect that it was not.  We should remember the aphorism that "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.".  

I have had grave doubts about this particular fiction perpetuated by the previous administrators of Canadian cricket. I could not see the skill set and/or resources to maintain a data  base for 12000 individual cricketers, given that this would be an ever changing registry of active cricketers.  

It was at this point that I started trolling to locate a source to confirm these figures.  What I came upon, via the Toronto and District Cricket Association web site, was a brand new web site. I noted that the new 'official' CCA web site was to be maintained by the same outfit which maintains the T&D web site.  

The new CCA web site (www.canadiancricket.org) had a PDF document which outlined policy parameters with respect to conflict of interest. Now this is very interesting. Who provides that service to the CCA? Who runs the T&D web site? That is not rocket science; nor will be a search of the corporate records of FP Consulting Inc.  

So what did I find on the mysteriously disappeared new CCA web? I found the regurgitated figure of 12,000 Players. The new, (now under construction) 'official' web site showed the following, under the heading  "Statistics". (I have to acknowledge that I have this tendency to cut and paste stuff which piques my interest.).   

Statistics - Cricket in Canada  

The Canadian Cricket Association has:


Given that it is inconceivable that the new administration of Canadian cricket would have made it a high priority to develop a central registry of players in Canada, I must ask which hat trick did this number come from?  

Let's do the math and have some fun with the numbers, based on the above  

If I were to accept the figure of 12,000 players in Canada, which I do not, I must ask the question where on earth, (whoops . ...where in Canada) would they be able to play? 400 teams vying for the use of 95 grounds would mean that 82 cricketers would be competing each and every weekend for the use of the pitches, . Even if we were to suggest that 41 cricketers were available to play on Saturday, and the other 41 on Sunday, there would be 19 players on each day standing  around the boundary. Now the accountants may have a different perspective, and I will be content to acknowledge a correction should they provide one. Now somebody give me a break here.  Just tell me how many 12th man positions can any team have hanging around a game?  

The figure of 400 teams from a pool of 12000 players would appear to work out as 30 players available to each team on  every Saturday and Sunday. Therefore, we come back to the 19 players standing around. How is it possible to develop an elite stream of cricketers with this sort of arrangement, when so many players are standing around waiting to carry the drinks?  

If the accountants contentions are correct, is it any wonder that there would be no space, and place, and time frame, available for Junior Development? Is that why we have not developed and implemented a national strategy for young cricketers? Is that why we cannot accommodate the presence of women and girls in our Canadian game? Or should I think that is the legacy of the Edwardian era?  

I know that there will be no answer to any of these questions, and I am not asking the new administration of  the CCA to justify these numbers. These same numbers are the same as those that gave Robert Weekes so much trouble, and we know that he was cast aside for his honesty. So, have the accountants acted unilaterally by publishing these very questionable figures?  Without an audit process, of any description, should we deduce that pretty well anything is grist for the media mill? You can fool some of the people some of the time but eventually the truth will out.  

I saw these same numbers, in the disappeared "official"/ under construction CCA web site, in a supplement to the Globe and Mail some months ago. The advertising agency responded to my enquiry by reporting to me that the numbers had been provided by the previous CCA administration. Not to belabour the  point, (but I am going to anyway), is it possible that the accountant did not seek confirmation, or ask for permission or corroboration, from the new administration, to publish these erroneous figures? Tut tut tut, another fire to put out.  

The essential problem is the ongoing perceived necessity to put a positive spin on almost everything in cricket. As a cricketer, brought to the game in the era of sticky wickets, I learned that spin was a tool of the slow bowlers trade. It was used to beguile, deceive and eventually dismiss the batsman. The two most celebrated examples of this skill were the dismissal of Bradman in his last Test innings, and the first ball bowled by Warne in his first appearance at Lord¹s. Neither batsman knew what was coming and did not read the positive spin.  

Positive spin does work on the cricket field. Off the cricket field, I am not enamoured of this technique, as it is most regularly used to serve the vested interest of institutions.  

As I understand the make up of the new CCA administration, the accountant is supposed to be one of the team. Unfortunately he has lost his middle stump to a first ball yorker. It was pretty quick, and he probably didn't see it. He should not have opened the batting anyway.  

Regarding the particular segment of the publication in the Globe and Mail, it was devoted to eliciting sponsorship interest for amateur sport. As long as we maintain the fiction of these statistics we are getting off on the wrong foot all over again.  

Plus ça change, plus ça la même chose. When will we ever learn?