When it comes to picking a city to work in for a few years, Toronto is at the top of Andy Pick’s list.
The Englishman spent just over a year here helping Canada prepare for the last cricket World Cup in the West Indies in 2007 and his 16-year-old son Gregory – who honed his hockey skills in this city – attends the National Sports Academy, a private preparatory school for winter sport athletes in Lake Placid, New York.
Pick could hardly believe his good fortune when he saw an opening earlier this year for a Toronto-based cricket administrator position. He was ecstatic when he was appointed the International Cricket Council (ICC) Development Performance Officer for the Americas.
It meant that the younger Pick was able to spend his Thanksgiving break last week with his parents in Toronto, something that he would have been unable to do if they were still in England.
The former English county medium-pacer worked as an Under-19 coach for the past nine years with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and as a fast bowling consultant with his former club Nottinghamshire this year.
“I had been coaching the England Under-19s for a good while and I was starting to look at maybe moving on not necessarily away from the ECB,” Pick, who signed a two-year contract, told Share. “I was starting to look at different options and one of them had to do with if I could see myself in a track suit with 19-year-olds. I told myself maybe not, but if that was the case, then where would I go.
“Moving into a sort of management role as I got a little older was something that I was interested in doing. It was either that or I would have liked to coach a country full-time. Those jobs however don’t come up very often. I had been keeping an eye out on job openings for a while and this position came up. Obviously, it was a chance to come back to this part of the world. It was a pretty easy decision.”
In his new role, Pick is responsible for the management, planning and implementation of myriad programs aimed at assisting the continued growth, development and improvement of cricket within the Americas region’s 17 member countries.
His areas of focus include player and coach development, the implementation of advanced development pathways from the junior to elite level and managing targeted performance through country development plans.
“My job is to help the Americas countries with planning, structuring and evaluating,” said Pick. “I will be looking to increase opportunities for the best players to compete often in the best facilities with the best coaches. The job is also about getting all of the elite staff and looking to see how we can take it to the next level. Initially, most of my work will be centred on the Associates and the countries playing in the World Cricket league.”
He will travel with the Canadian junior team to St. Kitts next month for a two-week camp and to New Zealand for the ICC junior cricket World Cup in January.
“I will be there purely in an advisory capacity,” Pick said. “I don’t want the coaches to feel uncomfortable and I don’t want to get in their way. I just want to be there and sort of observe, and if they need my help, I will gladly do that. I have to build relationships with the coaches so that they don’t feel any pressure with me watching over them. I want them to appreciate that it’s not about me being after their jobs.”
With no government funding or sponsorship imminent, Pick stepped down as Canada’s coach 11 months into the job. He signed a one-year contract with Cricket Canada in April 2006 with the hope it might turn into a longer deal.
Canada amassed six wins and 17 losses in 23 One-Day internationals with Pick at the helm. Three of the losses were at the 2007 World Cup where Canada conceded 28 extras in a disappointing loss to Kenya before bouncing back with strong performances against England and New Zealand.”
“It was an exciting opportunity to come and work with a team that was going to the World Cup,” he said. “Unfortunately, the environment was not the best since there seemed to be quite a lot of infighting among the administration. Everybody wanted a piece of something instead of people trusting people with the job they had been assigned. I don’t think the ECB way of doing things is better, but there are certain structures that all the best countries have in place, whether it be selection or future planning. There are structures and people have responsibilities. I was trying to help introduce certain ways of doing things that I felt at the time Canadian cricket needed and there was a reluctance to do those things.
“The fact that Canada is going to the junior and senior World Cup competitions says a lot. There are so many things the administration can add value to what they are doing but, of course, most of it comes down to money which they did not have much of. One of the things that really surprised me was how little money there was to do things.”
Pick said he enjoyed a healthy working relationship with former captain John Davison who is a bowling coach with the Commonwealth Bank Centre for Excellence (formerly the Australian Cricket Academy).
Davison is still part of the Canadian program and will represent this country at the ICC World Cup Twenty/20 qualifier in Dubai in February.
It comes as no surprise that Davison and some leading Cricket Canada officials did not always see eye to eye during Pick’s tenure.
“It was difficult for John because he’s from an entirely different cricket background,” said Pick. “He’s your typical passionate and driven Aussie cricketer and occasionally he struggled with the attitude and the approach over here. I don’t think he had too many problems with the players, but he really struggled with the administration…He was driven, he was professional, he was athletic and he was everything you want your players to be.”