By RON FANFAIR
Spending huge sums of money to help Associates get better and then turning around and shutting them out of future World Cup tournaments just doesn’t make any sense to former Canadian cricket coach Andy Pick.
In the past decade, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has committed millions of dollars under its High Performance program to help Canada and other Associate countries prepare for the World Cup.
A total of 10 teams will compete in the 2015 tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which is four less than is participating in the current series in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“If you are going to trim down, the argument is why give Canada so much money and there is nothing to aim for,” said Pick, the ICC Development Officer for the Americas. “I am not sure what the purpose is and what’s the target for Canada. Let’s say Canada wins a game or two in this World Cup, there will still come a point where they are going to find it’s really tough, if not impossible, to qualify for the next World Cup.
“If you are investing loads of money to get these teams to develop, then there has to be something for them to go after. It makes absolutely no sense to do that and then say to the teams you are not going to be that good so you can’t move on to the next level.”
To compensate for the loss of places in the 50-over tournament, the ICC has added four spots to the Twenty/20 World Cup, making it a 16-team event.
Pick applauded Canada for exposing myriad young players in the World Cup. The team’s average age is 24 with diminutive batsman Nitish Kumar being the youngest World Cup participant ever at age 16.
“I am all for giving young players a chance, but if you play them at a really high level all the time and they continue to struggle, you should drop them down to a level where they can still continue to score runs and feel confident about their game,” he said.
“Cricket Canada needs to develop a program here because you can’t keep sending players away for two weeks and spending a lot of money that you don’t have. For me, I would probably like to see a little bit more of a robust development framework with coaches so that players like Nitish could have a coach to come back to and a group of players that he can practice regularly with under good coaches in this country. Nitish has probably been exposed for a little bit too long without being allowed to come back down and sort of get back … to scoring runs.”
In his new role, the Canadian-based Pick is responsible for the management, planning and implementation of programs aimed at assisting the continued growth, development and improvement of the game within the Americas region 17 member countries.
He has visited all of the members with the exception of Suriname since his appointment in September 2009 and is pleased with the development in a few of the countries.
“I like the programs that are in place in Bermuda now with David Moore,” he said. “He’s got a good framework from getting guys out of the playgrounds to the national team. There is a clear pathway of how they can do that and there are areas where they receive help along the way. I also take my hat off to Argentina for having the courage to send a very young team (eight of the players are under the age of 15) to the Americas Under-19 tournament in Florida last month. As far as development goes, that’s fantastic.
“Most of the countries are starting to embrace elite player development in a way that I think will ultimately benefit them. They are starting to put together better quality programs based on quality and not quantity practice and they are looking to challenge some of the stereotypes whereby everybody turns up to a net session and the bowlers bowl and the batsman bat and try to smack the ball as far as they can.”
Following Canada’s exit from the last World Cup, Pick stepped down as coach after being on the job for just 11 months. The national side won six games and lost 17 with him at the helm in 23 One-Day Internationals.
Three of the losses were at the 2007 World Cup where Canada conceded 28 extras in a sloppy loss to Kenya before bouncing back with strong performances against England and New Zealand.