New International Cricket Council’s (ICC) regional development manager for the Americas, Ben Kavenagh, has spent the past few weeks in Toronto getting his feet wet before jumping into the pool.
He returns to his Australia home next week to spend the Christmas holidays before coming back to the city around the middle of January with his wife and four young children.
Outgoing manager Martin Vieira is assisting Kavenagh, who beat out almost 300 candidates for the job, with the transition.
“I am here just trying to get my feet under the table while securing accommodation for the family and looking at schools for the kids,” Kavenagh told Share.
He said his wife, who is a chiropractor, was very receptive to moving to a new country.
“She and the children are looking forward to the experience here,” said Kavenagh, a father of four. “My young children have never seen snow, so that is going to be something new and exciting for them. The time is just right now to try something new because the kids are still relatively young.”
Kavenagh’s eldest child is nine years old.
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. He held a similar position with the Geelong Football Club and was a marketing assistant with Greyhound Racing Victoria.
His most recent job was chief executive officer of the South Adelaide Football Club.
“I led and managed people and I was involved with league teams, participation, community programs, media and putting grants together,” said Kavenagh. “So really other than the shape of the balls, I think there are a lot of similarities between what I did in some of my jobs in Australia and the new role I am assuming. Cricket is certainly a game that I grew up with and was really engaged in and I have always worked in sports administration. The ability to combine the two in an overseas environment was something that really appealed to me.”
The new ICC regional development manager for the Americas said he played cricket in school and at the club level.
“I played a fair bit of it at a modest level,” said Kavenagh. “I grew up in a town where there was the Australia Football League in the winter and cricket in the summer and I competed in the two sports during those seasons. I grew up in a cricket culture and the sport is a big part of my DNA.”
Kavenagh said he saw the vacancy while surfing the Internet during a vacation to the United States and Mexico last summer.
“The job looked appealing and I thought I am capable of doing it,” he said. “I was also having a good time on the trip and I figured it would be fantastic to bring my family to the other side of the world and have an experience of living outside Australia…I did a lot of research on the role and the region and I talked to some cricketing people in Australia who have had experiences overseas. I was trying to pick their brains a little bit on various things.”
Two weeks ago, Kavenagh met Cricket Canada’s administrators at their Christmas dinner in the city.
“They were all very eager to talk about the sport,” he said. “While passionate, they were however realistic about where the sport is in Canada and where they need to take it. That’s really refreshing and I am looking forward to making that relationship even stronger.”
Kavenagh will attend the regional Division Two tournament in the Bahamas from February 7 to 12, the Division One competition in Florida from March 17 to 25 and the six-team ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Three series from April 28 to May 5 in Bermuda before participating in his first Americas forum in Argentina in late May.
He said his main goal is to increase participation in the region and ensure the sport continues to grow beyond the traditional cricket-playing countries.
“A lot of the countries have got some strong participation at the elite level while others need to improve,” said Kavenagh. “Promoting the sport to allow more people to play and the overall general development are where my focus is going to be. I think every country has its unique opportunities and challenges.
“I will have a better grasp of how we are going to move forward after meeting with representatives from all of the countries in the region. The Americas has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to get my teeth into it and play a role in advancing the sport in the countries.”
Kavenagh does not plan to move the ICC Americas office set up in Toronto when Vieira was appointed the region’s first development manager nine years ago.
“There are a lot of bigger issues to deal with,” he said. “That is not on my radar.”
The Americas is one of five regional offices within the ICC Development program and Kavenagh will be responsible for planning, managing and delivering myriad development programs across the region’s Associate and Affiliate member nations, including Canada.