Toronto seems set to host fast paced and exciting Twenty/20 cricket this summer.
Cricket Canada and organizers of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) are negotiating for the opening ceremony and three first round matches to be played here in early July.
The second annual competition runs from July 5 to August 8.
“Since 2012, we have been working with the West Indies Cricket Board to bring this league to this country,” said Cricket Canada’s president Ravin Moorthy. “In the last five to six months, we have been dealing directly with the organizers. We are having very detailed discussions at the moment and they are going well. We are in the middle of something big and I can’t divulge too much at this time. What I can say is that we have an understanding in principle and we are trying to bring that to a formal agreement. My hope is that by late spring, we will have something concrete to disclose.”
A reliable source, who recently returned from the Caribbean, said that CPL commercial manager Jamie Stewart told him this year’s tournament will kick off in Toronto in July.
Moorthy said CPL organizers and a franchise owner recently visited the city to look at venues and meet with Cricket Canada’s officials.
“They want to do it here and we want to accommodate them,” Moorthy said. “It makes sense for them to bring their product to a market that appreciates top quality cricket and is home to nationals from cricket-playing countries around the world. For us, there are a lot of developmental opportunities in addition to a financial boost. It’s all good.”
Moorthy said Toronto Cricket Club and Maple Leaf ground at King City are the likely venues.
If an agreement is signed to start the tournament in Toronto, the six franchises – Red Steel, Amazon Warriors, Hawksbills, Zouks, Tallawahs and Tridents – will each play a game here before returning to the Caribbean for the rest of the competition.
The Tallawahs won the inaugural tournament, brushing aside the Amazon Warriors by seven wickets with 15 balls to spare.
Hosting part of the CPL series could lift the spirits of Cricket Canada’s officials who have endured a depressing last three months.
The senior team failed to qualify for the World Cup Twenty/20 tournament in Bangladesh from March 16 to April 6 and the 2015 World Cup 50-overs competition in Australia and New Zealand while the junior squad finished 15th in the 16-team Under-19 World Cup that ended in the United Arab Emirates last Saturday.
“Our performances on the field have been disappointing,” said Moorthy. “The youth players were in a tight group, but we were hoping for better results. There is however some consolation for us in that we have some talented players like Nikhil Dhutta and Nitesh Kumar who are just as good as their peers from the Full Member countries.”
Canada, along with The Netherlands and Kenya, lost their One-Day International (ODI) status after substandard performances in the ICC World Cup qualifier in New Zealand last January.
“While we didn’t do well in the World Cup qualifier, we still have the opportunity to be in the next Intercontinental Cup qualifier,” Moorthy said. “We will however have to go and play well in the World Cricket League tournament slated to be in the early part of 2015 to be able to get into the I-Cup. We are looking forward to that and it has to be a priority for the organization. If we could do that, we will still have the same playing program we had as an ODI country while we wouldn’t be playing ODIs. The matches and opposition will be the same and that’s a building block to get back ODI status. If we are not in a position to be in that Intercontinental Cup in the next cycle, we will be taking a step back and that will make the task of recovering ODI status more difficult.”
Moorthy said a senior team coach will be appointed before the start of this summer’s National Cricket League which brings together players from across the country to compete in 50-overs and Twenty/20 matches.
“It’s important for that individual to look and see what he has and that will be the perfect opportunity,” said Moorthy. “At the end of the day, however, it’s the players who will have to take us out of this rut.”
Andy Pick, who coached Canada from March 2006 to May 2007, was recalled to prepare the national side for the World Cup qualifier after Gus Logie was fired in December.