By RON FANFAIR
Stumps were pulled on Canada’s attempt to host next year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup in the Greater Toronto Area long before Cricket Canada informed the sport’s governing body last week that it was unable to host the tournament.
The writing was clearly on the wall when the ICC last year stripped Kenya of the right to stage the 2010 competition that was played in New Zealand in January.
Four months ago, Cricket Canada’s then interim president Ranjit Saini boldly insisted that Canada would be ready to host the tournament and deliver the required 12 venues despite the governing body for the sport in this country losing Scotiabank, its primary private sector sponsor.
Saini, who was officially installed as Cricket Canada’s president at its AGM in Calgary last month, also had the tenacity to say his organization would approach the government for a grant to help upgrade the infrastructure.
With pending litigation within the local cricket community, no level of government is going to bail out Cricket Canada. And without a sponsor and the national team’s pathetic showing this year failing to inspire confidence in any potential financial supporter willing to throw around a few dollars, it’s hard to see how Cricket Canada was going to raise the nearly $2 million required for the upgrades.
Perhaps, they were hoping to win the lottery.
Last Thursday was the deadline for getting back to the ICC on Cricket Canada’s position and Saini reluctantly conceded defeat.
“We don’t have what we need to host in 2012, but we want to make clear our intent to quickly develop our facilities,” he said. “We already have internationally recognized venues and we will continue to grow at a level that will enable us to host international teams and tournaments on a regular basis…To have lost that opportunity because we are unable to secure enough interest from any source is an enormous blow to the sport and a great shame for the many talented young players in Canada.”
Chandra Gocool, Cricket Canada’s chief executive officer, echoed Saini’s sentiments, saying the national organization is disappointed that it had to give up the right to host the biennial competition.
“The decision was not easy,” he told Share. “We really wanted to do it, but we could not come up with the financial resources to undertake the upgrades and get at least 12 venues ready up to ICC specification for matches and practice sessions. We had to be realistic.”
Gocool said Cricket Canada would make a bid to host the 2014 tournament.
“The ICC has taken note of our suggestion,” he added. “This would give us time to develop support and acquire the necessary resources required.”
Just over a decade ago, Cricket Canada spent almost US$500,000 on the installation, preparation and maintenance of turf pitches for the 2001 ICC Trophy tournament in the GTA. While the governing body for the sport at the time acknowledged it had financially over-extended itself to host that tournament, the acquisition of turf wickets was widely viewed as a legacy.
Turf wickets were installed at Maple Leaf ground at King City (4), G. Ross Lord Park (2) and one each at Sunnybrook Park, Ajax and Wildwood Park in Mississauga.
Austin Ward, the curator at Maple Leaf ground, said the wickets at King City and Sunnybrook Park are still in good shape. The same cannot be said of those at Ross Lord and in Mississauga while the Ajax wicket is seldom used.
He however pointed out that turf pitches in Canada are quite expensive to maintain.
Just last week, Maple Leaf spent almost $1,000 to activate the water system and replace four of the ground’s 25 water sprinklers.
The responsibility for maintaining the turf wickets rested with the Toronto & District Cricket Association (TDCA) clubs, many of whom are struggling financially like Cricket Canada is right now.
Things are not likely to change in the foreseeable future.
For Canada to consider hosting the Under-19 World Cup in another four years is indeed very optimistic and highly unlikely.