Eddie Norfolk – Resources are Important!

The availability of sufficient resources glowed as rain came down during the first innings of Thursday’s games at Maple Leaf Cricket Club in the ICC World Challenge League Division A. I came across a few spots of rain when doing some early morning shopping for camera cards in Toronto around the 7.45am mark, but the two scheduled games were in progress when I arrived at Maple Leaf Cricket Club some 15-20 minutes after the scheduled 10am start.
Some may have seen a graphic of the Canada squad which indicated 9am was the start time, but games are starting at 10am.  So I was not late for the start on Wednesday when Canada beat Denmark in the opening game of this second series of matches in Division A. Canada batted first on Wednesday and posted 219/8 from 50 overs then bowled out Denmark for 145 (43.2 overs).
Various clouds, some bright, some more threatening passed over the grounds on Thursday as play ticked along in the matches between Singapore and Qatar on the North-West ground whilst Malaysia seemed to be struggling with the bat against Vanuatu on the North-East ground.
Then wind freshened. Some spots turned into “real” rain with accompanying wind.  Play came to an end on each ground, Malaysia had lost 9 wickets and seemed to be struggling. But you never know in these matches when teams play on grounds where they have not played a game for years – if at all – except for some practice earlier in the week. As this is the second series of matches in Challenge League Division A, the teams have seen each other play before but that was back in September 2019 in Malaysia.
Those watching the game on ICC.tv will have seen some Qatar players help covers on the north-west ground as the wind blew as the rain came down.  The commentary team were on the south side of the ground, I was on the north side, drifting between both games when play was taking place.  I had noticed some of the groundstaff making a move or two as the wind intensified before the rain began and noticed there were not too many groundstaff to deal with two grounds.
So three groundstaff made moves on one ground while not so many were left to look after the other ground.   Now two large covers were strategically positioned for any potential rain problem near the north-west ground with some metal poles keeping the covers on the ground. But you need four or more people to move each large cover. You also some other person or persons to move the poles if it is windy, so the poles can help the covers stay on the ground, rather than blow up into the air!
Some of the players helped with cover activities on each ground.  There had been challenges for the few groundstaff brought in to support the recent National T20 Men’s Championship when it rained.  So Thursday’s lunch-time storm brought back memories to a number of people around the ground of a need that the event hosts/organizers –  primarily Cricket Ontario – needed to address, based on recent experience.
But groundstaff resources were similarly thin today to available resources during the recent National T20 and there are other areas where human resources seem to be thin or non-existent.
Some would think it useful to attract spectators to a World Cup Qualifying event, such as this Challenge League A series.  But there’s no provision for spectators, but at least two structures with roofs were in place for the teams playing on the north-east ground, following work on Wednesday afternoon.
It seems it has rained again at Maple Leaf CC on Thursday afternoon.  Qatar were stuck on 148/5 after 32.2 overs chasing Singapore’s 244/9 on the North-West ground.  Malaysia had lost 9 wickets when play was first halted around lunchtime and went on to score 124 all out.  Vanuatu replied with a winning 125/8. Syed Aziz took 5/36 from 10 overs for Malaysia whilst Vanuatu wicketkeeper Jarryd Allan notched 39* to bring his team past the winning post.  Earlier, Khizar Hayat had battled away in top-scoring with 43* for Malaysia.
The number of people supporting distribution of lunches to the players seemed to be low. I am aware that one of the teams opted to eat in their home on the boundary rather than eat inside the pavilion.  So some of them looked after the transportation of the food to the squad.
I nearly joined in some of the cover and pole moving activities, but realized I had three bags that would need to be moved out of the rain as it intensified to some drier part of the ground.  The three bags became two, to simplify that task.
It might be useful if two scoreboards could emerge on the north side of both grounds so those on the pavilion side of the ground – which includes those players not fielding or batting plus reserves – might be able to see the current score on a scoreboard as the game progresses.  Players and team officials are not supposed to be looking at cell phones and other gadgets to track the current score in the game under ICC regulations for matches such as these World Cup Challenge League games.
Some things on the Ontario cricket trail seem to be drifting along in 2022 very much as they were ticking along in 2012. Caanda’s men’s team had a higher ranking back in 2012 but the glory of Canada’s participation in three consecutive ODI Men’s World Cups came to an end in 2011.  Canada’s Men’s team has yet to appear in a World T20I Championship but there remains a flow of useful junior players who could move on to better things within Canada if the supporting resources improved.  Beyond issues such as the lack of enough groundstaff at tournaments, such as Challenge League A or the Men’s National T20, there are needs to attract sponsors.  The lack of spectators, for whom there seem to be no provisions at this current event –  despite it being a stepping stone back to playing in an actual World Cup Tournament – is unlikely to attract any major corporation to Canadian cricket.
Resources are important.  Money is needed to improve facilities, such as indoor nets and changing rooms for four or eight teams within an improved Maple Leaf CC pavilion, for example, or to have cameras mounted above the sight screens at both ends of each ground to support both live-streaming of games and player performance analysis for batting and bowling. Now with more cameras and performance analysis there becomes a need for more analysts, who would need to be paid money.  But the gold would come from winning a U19 World Championship – male or female – and moving on to win some form of World Cup (50 or 20 overs).  Quality resources can bring home the gold medals of cricket, even if they are not actual gold.
Eddie Norfolk
28 July 2022
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