Cricket Canada seeking to unite team at AGM

By RON FANFAIR

Less than a month after Cricket Canada’s first vice-president, Mohan (Mike) Kendall, quit his post questioning the leadership of the organization’s president, Banwarilal “Ben” Sennik, and claiming there was substantial difference of opinion on important policy matters, the sport’s governing body executive convenes at its annual general meeting in Markham this weekend seeking to re-establish a unified platform to advance the game.

Kendall, who walked out a day after chairing an executive meeting in the absence of Sennik who was in India on business, was filling in for Howard Petrook, who resigned in September 2007 citing personal business reasons.

Chris Cox from Vancouver is expected to retain the treasurer’s post while the positions of first and third vice-presidents are up for election. Sennik and general secretary, Calvin Clarke, jointly filled the treasurer’s role following the resignation of Bill Siddiqui earlier this year.

Sennik acknowledges that his organization has experienced trying times recently – CEO Atul Ahuja was fired in February – but insists that Cricket Canada is on the right track and will be stable after the AGM.

“Our first VP resigned, but that’s his prerogative and we still have to carry on,” said Sennik. “The aim is to get the right people in place all working on the same page in the interest of Canadian cricket. I am confident that we can achieve this as we go forward.”

Sennik said the search for a new CEO elicited a strong response and he expects the successful candidate to be appointed by May 1.

“We had 63 applicants from inside and outside Canada by the deadline on March 13,” he said. “This time, however, we are going to do things different in that we will get a consulting firm that specializes in hiring to choose the individual for us.”

In just three days after the AGM, Canada will take the field in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup qualifying tournament in South Africa. The top four teams will qualify for the next World Cup in Asia while the top six sides will secure One-Day International status for the following four years and also automatically qualify for the ICC Intercontinental Cup. The bottom two teams will be relegated to the 2011 ICC World Cricket League Division Three.

“There is a lot at stake in this upcoming qualifier in South Africa,” admitted Sennik. “The funding formula for the Associates for the next few years depends on how the teams do in this competition. Simply put, we will be able to cash in if we qualify for the World Cup for a third straight time. That’s the objective and I will be disappointed if we cannot achieve it.”

Sennik said every effort was made to ensure that the team was adequately prepared for the tournament. Almost half of the 15-member squad spent six weeks in a high performance training camp in Sri Lanka in spite of concerns raised by Kendall after he stepped away as first VP.

“Having the majority of Canadian-based players attend the camp, in my mind, was the best thing we did in a long time,” said Sennik. “They were exposed to some of the best technical help in a very professional and structured setting. I am happy with the decision that the executive and the players took to go there in spite of security concerns. I have no regrets.

“I feel that we have done our part in giving the players the best possible chance to succeed in South Africa. It’s now up to them to go out and perform to the best of their capabilities and, hopefully, that will transform into some wins. That’s what we need.”

While in India, Sennik met with Delhi District Cricket Association executives, including vice-president, Chetan Chauhan.

“We had some preliminary discussions on some things that can help us as a cricket nation,” Sennik said. “One of the things we talked about was an Indian “A” team coming to Canada, possibly in 2010. We will have more talks in the future.”

Canada, led by England-based wicketkeeper/batsman, Ashih Bagai, begins play in the ICC World Cup qualifier next Wednesday against Oman.

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