The Heavy Roller
One cricket fans candid opinion…
I’ve been in the America’s for over 6 months now, and have gotten myself involved with cricket on a number of levels. Overall what I have seen and heard is encouraging. If the administrators of the game do things right over the next few years, then I think the sport is set to explode in this part of the world!
In large part the game is played and run by ex-pats from the subcontinent and Caribbean. Without exaggeration I would estimate the percentage to be about 98%. This means that despite it being the fastest growing sport in the USA and Canada, and having large playing numbers in certain urban areas, the sport remains outside of the public mainstream. In fact, as an example, when I have mentioned cricket to downtown Torontonians, without exception they have assumed that the sport didn’t exist in Canada.
So the major challenge for those that run the game is to break into the mainstream. The best way for this to happen is through the schools and colleges, and through public media exposure. Some independent organizations are doing a great job of this already. Two which deserve a mention are American College Cricket and the United States Youth Cricket Association. For the sake of not rambling for too long I’ll leave you to look up their websites in your own time if you want to know more.
The other challenge for cricket in this part of the world is the ‘elephant in the room’ of corruption, factionism and cronyism. Yes this still goes on, and in my short time here I have been witness to its detrimental effects. However, the game has grown to such a point that power-hungry individuals are no longer able to manipulate things to their liking without there being significant back-lash from the wider cricketing fraternity. Essentially they are fast losing their power to corrupt. In fact I am heartened by those who currently run the sport at USACA, Cricket Canada, and ICC Americas. They are all very capable professionals in their own right, and have a genuine passion for cricket! With continued hard work over the next few years, the stains left by past administrations will fade into obscurity.
One final point worth noting is the immense talent that is being produced at a youth level. Perhaps I have just been lucky in that the club I have stumbled upon seems to be producing some of Canada’s brightest prospects? But even so, I would put the talent I have seen on par with, if not better, than kids of the same age in NZ and Aussie.
It remains to be seen whether the recently announced Cricket Holdings America t20 tournament will be a success, but judging from what I’ve seen it could be just the catalyst needed to propel cricket into Canadian and Americans hearts and minds! Here’s hoping…