An Australian will replace Martin Vieira as the next International Cricket Council (ICC) regional development manager for the Americas.
South Adelaide Football Club (SAFC) chief executive officer, Ben Kavenagh, beat out nearly 300 candidates for the job. He will spend two days in Toronto on December 19 and 20 before heading back to his Australian home for the Christmas holidays.
The married father of four young children, who has been with the SAFC since 2006, takes up his appointment here on January 1.
Vieira said the office will remain in Toronto until an assessment is made to determine the most advantageous location.
The Americas is one of five regional offices within the ICC development program and Kavenagh will be responsible for planning, managing and delivering myriad cricket development programs across the region’s 17 Associate and Affiliate member nations, including Canada and the United States.
Kavenagh, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master’s degree in Business Administration, was general manager of the Ballarat Football League and Geelong Supercats of the South East Australian Basketball League, the Geelong Football Club general manager and a marketing assistant with Greyhound Racing Victoria.
He is the region’s second development manager following Vieira, who was appointed nine years ago.
The sport has grown immeasurably in the Americas in that period.
“We have made progress in developing women’s cricket and the game is in the schools in the Latin American countries,” Vieira said. “There were countries that told us it wouldn’t be possible because soccer and baseball are the dominant sports. When you look at a country like Costa Rica, 41 schools are playing the sport and that’s just in the last four years. That success is attributed to finding the right volunteers, which is vital in our business with the development program. We cannot pay staff to go to all those countries and do what volunteers do. Finding volunteers that have a passion for the game is paramount.”
With Vieira at the helm, Canada has been to the 2007 and 2011 World Cup tournaments while Bermuda made its debut in the global limited-overs competition five years ago.
“When you think of Bermuda with a population of about 64,000, it was quite an accomplishment for a country of that size to make it to the World Cup,” he said. “However, to a Bermudan, I don’t think that making the national cricket team is all that important. That’s where the attitude comes in. They have the ideal set up in that they have junior programs and corporate sponsors. There is however so much juice you can squeeze out of the lemon.”
Argentina, which secured Associate membership in 1974, has struggled to compete with the top Associates in the region.
“They are well-structured and well-staffed, but the mystery there is that their performance has been stagnant,” said Vieira. “The game is concentrated in a few clubs in Buenos Aires and there is limited action in Rosario. Other than that, they have not really expanded the game. The one thing you have to give Argentina credit for is that the bulk of their team is made up of players born in that country.”
Vieira said a lack of grassroots development is limiting the development of the sport in the United States.
“That will never work if your focus is just on senior cricket,” he said.
An accountant by profession, Vieira said he has enjoyed his tenure with the ICC.
“I consider myself fortunate in that I have been paid to work in a sport I adore and also travel the world,” he said. “I would never have picked up a phone and asked a travel agent to book me on a flight to Kathmandu. Had it not been for this job, I would not have been able to see so many places in the last decade.”
BY RON FANFAIR