Canada ‘right’ to refuse hosting U-19 Cricket World Cup: Errol Townshend

Errol Townshend (right) pictured with National player Umar Bhatti

Former Ontario Cricket Association President Errol Townshend has come to the defense of the current Cricket Canada administration in a letter to Share News stating that declining to host the 2012 ICC U-19 World Cup was the ‘right’ move.

Mr. Townshend was critical of the ‘misinformation’ that is flying around in Canadian cricket circles and also the previous administrations decision to agree to host the tournament in the first place.

Here is the letter in it’s entirety:

‘It’s a measure of the mindlessness and misinformation that pervades Canada’s cricketing community that there is mourning over Cricket Canada’s decision to throw the 2012 Under-19 World Cup back into the laps of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Instead, there should be dancing on the pitches.

It was one of the several dumb decisions taken by the Ben Sennek regime which acquiesced in allowing the ICC to foist this tournament on Canada.

We did not bid for it. We were simply told to host it. To its credit, the Sennek gang insisted the ICC pay a hosting fee. This was more than the previous regime did when, against my advice, it allowed the ICC to bankrupt Canadian cricket by hosting the 2001 ICC Trophy, the senior mini-World Cup for Associate countries.

But the hosting fee this time was still chump change. It took Canada eight years following 2001 to dig itself out of bankruptcy. Hosting this 2012 event would likely have put Cricket Canada right back in a deep financial hole.

That the current Cricket Canada board thought it necessary to approach various levels of government for a whopping $2.5 million to put on this event should have turned on the lights in the heads of all those, like OCA president Mike Kendall, now mourning its loss. This is a youth tournament. There are no superstars. No gate receipts. As we found out in 2001, all major advertising receipts go to the ICC. There is no TV revenue coming to Cricket Canada. It’s all spend, spend, spend. It was destined to be a financial bath from the get-go.

There was mad talk of building turf pitches all over Canada for the event, without so much as a thought as to how they would be maintained. One suspects that many of these intended turf pitches would end up in various stages of deterioration, as is the case with the two at Ross Lord Park in Toronto.

Canada is now the second Associate country in the past two years that agreed to host the World Under-19 Cup but no longer will. Kenya spent oodles of money upgrading its grounds in preparation for this past January’s event only to have it yanked away by the ICC and given to New Zealand. No word about any compensation to Kenya for its troubles.

The ICC, in the hopes of competing with soccer, is trying to make cricket into a world game. The game is being spread into countries, including China, that have no cricketing history. It has sought, within the Associate countries like Canada, to bring a level of professionalism to its administration by paying national coaches, CEOs and granting modest central contracts to the top players. This is commendable. But one of the consequences that should have been anticipated is that once you introduce payment to a few volunteers in a hitherto amateur system, other volunteers will want to be paid as well. Thus, a pittance of a hosting fee paid to a governing national body could never compensate for the enormous outlay required to host such an event.

Debt-ridden Caribbean island governments, especially Jamaica, are still picking up the tab for hosting the 2007 World Cup. Cricket Canada, under Sennek, spent some $250,000 of its own money preparing for that event and received not a penny for its pains. Ireland, which shocked the world by advancing to the Super Eights, went home with pennies in its pocket until an embarrassed ICC cut them a one-off, hush-hush-don’t-cry cheque.

Ireland also had its two top batsmen, Ed Joyce and Eion Morgan, pinched by England under eligibility rules skewed heavily in favour of Test countries.

Canada, whose on-the-field performance is now an international joke, is going to the senior World Cup next year. But the money being spent by ICC in helping Canada and other Associates prepare for this TV extravaganza is mostly to ensure that the matches last the full 100 overs, unlike the disaster in 2003 when Canada was bowled out for 36 in the blink of an eye by Sri Lanka. (Pity those poor sponsors whose TV ads never got aired as a result.) So the money-spinning ICC is not exactly the charitable foundation some of the bird-brains in Canada’s cricket community think it is.

Agreeing to host the 2012 Under-19 World Cup was a huge mistake. Thankfully, Cricket Canada has now corrected it. We should all be rejoicing.’

Errol Townshend

Email: ewat@rogers.com

As a Canadian Cricketer, I’m disappointed that we will not be hosting the World Cup.  It would have provided our young players the opportunity to play at home against the top teams in the world.

However, it is important for our National body to think long term and whether it would be able to afford such an event.  Obviously there were some doubts within the board, so they’ve done the right thing by allowing the ICC enough time to find an alternate venue and perhaps have earned some respect within the ICC for not putting on a tournament that is not up to International standards.

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Canada Kicks Off U-19 World Cup In Style With A Big Win!

Usman Limbada led Canada to victory with a superb knock (C) ICC

Canada kicked off the U-19 World Cup with a bang today with a tense victory over Zimbabwe.  Canada won the toss and elected to bat and held off the a tough Zimbabwe team by 10 runs to get secure their first ever victory in the tournament.

Canada started off well within the first 10 overs with Ruvindu Gunasekara and Hiral Patel getting Canada off to a steady start.  Ruvindu was the first batsman to depart after making 20, while Hiral made 29.  In the next 10 overs Canada lost 3 quick wickets before Usman Limbada took charge with a superb 90 runs off only 114 balls.  A knock which included 6 fours and 1 six which helped the boys reach a defendable target of 201-7 after batting their alotted 50 overs.  Usman shared an important 57 run partnership with Darius D’Souza (20 from 34 balls).

Although it wasn’t a huge target it was certainly enough to put up a good fight and they held their nerve in the last few overs.  Zimbabwe’s chase got off to a rocky start because of some great bowling from Zain Mahmood and Arsalan Qadir.  Zain picked up 3 wickets for 31 runs to lead the bowling attack.  Zimbabwe was 23-3 before Wicket keeper Dean Mashawidza and Andrew Lindsay steadied the chase for Zimbabwe with 75 and 40 runs respectively.  Parth Desai got the crucial breakthrough by trapping Mashawidza in front for a big LBW.  Zimbabwe fell short by 10 runs and were all out in the 50th over.

It’s the first ever victory for Canada at the U-19 World Cup and hopefully a good sign for things to come.  But, while it is a big victory, it is only one game.  The team must treat this like any another game and start preparing for the hosts New Zealand tomorrow.  There will be plenty of time to savour this victory after the tournament is over… This game is definitely history.

Check out the full scorecard here.

For more coverage head to the home of Cricket Canada.  Become a Fan on Facebook or follow the team on Twitter.

Team Canada Prepare for ICC U-19 World Cup

U-19 Captain Rustum Bhatti drives during the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier (c) ICC

The Ontario representatives had a good practice with some of the Senior Canadian Men’s team players.  It was my first chance to see the young guys in person and I was really impressed.

One thing about this bunch is that they are not lacking in confidence.  Even if they don’t win, there is enough talent in the group to put up a good fight.

The fitness level was good and there is some variety in the bowling with a few left arm spin bowling options.  They leave on New Years Day and play their first warm up game on the 12th.

The full squad:

Rustam Bhatti (captain), Manny Aulakh, Parth Desai, Darius D’Souza, Ruvindu Gunasekara, Hardik Kotak, Nitish Kumar, Usman Limbada, Zain Mahmood, Asif Manjra, Hiral Patel, Riyazkhan Pathan, Arsalan Qadir, Harpreet Singh, Hamza Tariq.

You can support the squad by visiting the Cricket Canada online shop.   Check out the new toques.

U-19’s Preparing for World Cup

The National team is preparing to head to New Zealand for the U-19 World Cup.  Unfortunately, being in Canada means limited coverage, but in the major cricket playing nations this tournament is big news.

Many of the best players in world cricket represented their Countries at U-19 level.  Some, especially in the sub-continent, get a chance to play in the Senior team even before the U-19 team, for others, it’s a first chance to shine against other top players from around the cricket world and a chance to show the national team selectors that you have what it takes to perform at international level.

In late 2003, I was in Pakistan when Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India were visiting with their respective U-19 squads to play in an Asia Cup ODI series taking place in Lahore.  One young man on the Indian team dominated the tournament taking 18 wickets at an average of 7.38 including a match against Bangladesh when he took 9-16.  Absolutely phenomenal numbers for a young Irfan Pathan.  He led India to victory against Sri Lanka in the finals and after that series he was fast tracked into the senior Indian side.  He was immediately, unrealistically, compared to the great Wasim Akram.  Although, he has been in and out of the Indian team since then, he’s had some great performances for them in big matches.  Unfortunately, he’s also had some entirely indifferent tours when he hasn’t made much of an impression at all.  But, he took his chance at the U-19 level and flourished.

The kids that are participating know that this might be their only chance.  It’s something they’ve been working towards for their whole cricket playing life.  The teams will be watching these kids closely to determine if they have the right attitude, temperament and most of all the talent to perform at International level.

The tournament begins on January 15th.  The full schedule is available here.

Canada will play Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and hosts New Zealand.  How do you think they will do?

The tournament gets underway on January 15th, 2010.  I hope to speak to some of the players and management before they depart.  For now, check out our interview with U-19 Canadian Fast Bowler Manny Aulakh.