A time to seriously reflect (MIke Kendall, OCA)
The continuous disappointing
performances of the Canadian National Teams, in the International arena
should be and is a cause of grave concern for all Cricket loving fans in
this country. Time and again, our selected teams of various age levels
have been out performed and outclassed by even minnows of the cricket
Let us explore the possible reasons of such lack luster performance rationally and look and explore possible reasons:
1. Could it be lack of motivation and team morale?
2. Not enough talent in the country
3. Lack of infrastructure
4. Lack of training facilities
5. Lack of productive domestic structure
6. lack of focus on the part of management
7. lack of funding
8. selection process
9. CC Board
10.Or All of the above and more
One would think that Lack of Motivation should hardly be a problem for Canadian boys who are perhaps hungry to show case their talents on the international stage.
However Morale is a different entity altogether.
Their are a lot contributing factors that can give boost or bust Morale e.g. Self confidence, support from the players, faith in the guidance of the coaches, appreciation of efforts from the management, knowledge of your role on the team roster, flow of communication, fitness, respect etc. just to name a few. Cheema is a prime example of abundant talent that needs to be understood and properly channeled. I mean the guy has hit more sixes against West Indies pace than many people hit in a life time. That was not a fluke performance. Every down has a roll to play whether it is 20/20, ODI or a Test match. Based on his talent, every key player must have a standard down and hence will be focused on the job before stepping on the field. Too much juggling will lead to confusion and lack of focus.
In former CC coach Pubudu's words "there is enough home grown talent in Canada" and I agree with him. Again, after the High Performance camp in 2010, the two World renowned coaches Mr. Rod Marsh and Mr. Mudasar Nazar had the same assessment, even though a lot of the National Players could not attend'. So is every talented player getting the opportunity he/she deserves? Is their performance being looked at and assessed impartially? Why is it then that the National Squad' was not allowed to play against the "Best of the Rest" as is usually done in most countries, before embarking upon a tour?.
Infrastructure has improved from what it has been in the past. However more needs to be done and should have been done. It is a good thing that more and more Municipalities are beginning to realize the importance of Cricket and to allocate resources for the game. City of Markham and Brampton are prime examples. I hear St. John's has started Hard Ball Cricket successfully. BC has turf wicket now. Things would have been lot better if we had taken on the challenge of hosting the U19 World Cup. It would have been a great morale booster for young and old alike. A golden opportunity lost for ever perhaps..
With the growing popularity of cricket, more and more training facilities are propping up, at least in the GTA. Businessmen are investing in high standard indoor run ups with good returns. I am sure this will continue to improve. I hope that the trend will continue in the rest of the provinces as well.
Our Domestic Cricket Structure is pathetic. There is no cohesiveness among various leagues to agree upon a pathway to produce and nurture a pool of up and coming talent, through a system of periodic evaluation and High Performance. Current system in place is incapable of producing high caliber players as is evident from the performance of the U15, U19 and senior teams. The older players can not carry Canada on their shoulders for ever and you can depend upon immigration only so much. The domestic structure must feed in to the National squads with fresh talent from all over Canada.
In stead of wasting money on unproductive and perhaps meaningless tournaments and events, I am suggesting that at least in Ontario, all leagues should pool their resources together and hire an independent experienced Cricket Administrator. He must demonstrate the capability of completely dismantling the current system and put in place a structure that is capable of producing home grown talent while spreading the game to schools, colleges and Universities. Mind you, it will require a lot of resolve on the part of those who profess to love cricket as it will come down to relinquishing of power. Sounds impossible? Well, after the second World War, many opposing factions in Japan got together and created an organization that charted and oversaw the growth of that country and made it a World power in a relatively short time. I firmly believe same can be done for Cricket in Canada.
Funding so far, at least at the national level has not been much of a problem. My understanding is that between ICC and Govt of Canada, CC receives nearly 1.4 Million Dollars yearly if not more. I am sure it is being spent in a way prudent to the health of Cricket in this country. It is at the provincial or league level, where the organizations are starving for cash without help from CC. Again, we are all volunteers and have jobs to go to, wives to please, children to feed and dogs to take out for exercise. And yet we try to find time to hunt for funds to spend on the love of our lives. It is time that we recognize that we are not professionals when it comes to raising funds. We need to get professionals involved who have access to corporate corridors and perhaps a foot in a few of those doors.
Selection process has been criticized by many from different walks of life. There is a process laid out in the CC constitution. The degree to which it is followed, is questioned by many. In some cases it may be sour grapes'. However where there is smoke, there usually is fire as well. West Indies may not have great things going for them at present. However there are many great players and coaches, who possess a keen eye to recognize a talented player. A panel of such greats should be commissioned to oversee the formation of the National squad, rather than leave it to some elected/appointed officials who may or may not possess the right qualifications to get the job done. There is no harm on leaning on a good neighbor who might be more than willing to help out. Again this will require another bitter pill to be swallowed on the part of many in position of power.
The Board of Cricket Canada needs to re-examine its actions and self evaluate its performance as a governing body. They must look at where Canada was and where Canada is today in terms of Cricket and they should have the answer. Just like the rest of us, the Board of CC is also made up of volunteers and have some life other than Cricket as well. The ICC is paying for a professional CEO and his services and talents should be utilized fully by stepping aside and giving him the freedom to work. Again this will mean the loss of some power and leverage. However time to do it is now there are no more excuses left.
I can not forget the presentation Mr. Richard Done, High Performance Manager of ICC, made to CC board a few years ago. He emphasized that the Executive must operate at "30,000 ft" and let the management work be carried out a professional CEO and his team. The executive/board's job should be to give direction and evaluate the performance of the managers rather than do it themselves. Again there is lack of political will to adhere to such a structure and hence Cricket continues to suffer.
Cricket fans in Canada are frustrated. They don't see even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. If Canada does not qualify for the next World Cup, the current funding from ICC will dry out very quickly. Then what? Is there a plan in place to counter that or are we going to leave poor Canadian Cricket to die a slow death?
No self respecting Canadian Cricket fan will allow that.
I am sure there are more reasons for one can point to. However it is high time that we grasp the reality on the ground, set aside our differences, come together and work towards a common goal of putting Canada back on top of the Associate World. We will be less than honest and totally irresponsible if we are unable provide pathway for a brighter future for our up and coming young cricketers, due lack of political will on our part.
God willing, with some sincere key takers of this open invitation, Canadian Cricket will be a force to reckon with, soon.
"God keep our land glorious and free" with Cricket reaching new heights.Mohan (Mike) Kendall,
Ontario Cricket Association.