ICC decision to have colonies cup in 2015 shameful
Cathal Kelly (Toronto Star)
If we're being honest about it, Canada isn't really great at too many things.
Hockey, sure. Women's soccer. A variety of niche, winter athletics and a few summer ones, as well.
We can ill afford to take sporting possibilities off the board. It's especially galling when someone else does it for us.
A blockheaded decision by the International Cricket Council this week has eliminated Canada and many other nations from that sport's showcase event.
There are 105 cricket playing countries recognized by the ICC. Ten are so-called 'full' members. Canada lies in the second tier of 'associate' nations.
In the past, those outside the golden circle were afforded the opportunity to play their way in to the quadrennial Cricket World Cup. From this point forward, only those ten powers will participate, regardless of their quality or world ranking.
'Other sports are expanding their World Cups. Cricket is the only one that's making theirs more insular,' said Cricket Canada's understandably frustrated CEO Chandra Gocool. 'The ICC is talking out of both sides of their mouth — on one hand they talk about globalizing the game, and on the other they are affording protectionism to a small group.'
The move has drawn even more withering criticism in other nations that suddenly find themselves excluded.
'The next World Cup will be like the American World Series — you are crowned world champions but the world did not take part,' said Phil Simmons, the Trinidadian coach of Ireland's cricket team. 'Congratulations to India on winning the last real World Cup.'
We can talk all day long about youth participation numbers and new infrastructure, but a sport builds its base during marquee events featuring the world's best players.
The key component to the growth of soccer as a spectator sport in North America — and this city in particular — is down to the frenzied interest shown by immigrant fans during that sport's World Cup.
Draw a straight line between 250,000 Italo-Canadians spilling onto St. Clair Ave. after Italy's World Cup victory in '82 and soccer's central position in the Toronto sports establishment today. Without those five weeks every four years, soccer is still on the periphery.
Canada is famously bumbling when it comes to men's soccer. But we're fairly handy at cricket, qualifiers for the past three World Cups.
Maybe, like me, the recently completed Cricket World Cup in South Asia was your first concentrated dose of the sport. If you also took the time — and had the constitution to get up before the cock crowed — I'm betting that you're suddenly just a bit enthralled by it.
Cricket's critics — none of whom know anything about cricket — harp on the length of time it takes to play a game, and its inscrutability. They never mention the relentlessness of play and the constantly shifting tactics. They skip the part about how the pride of nations hangs on a badly placed ball or poorly-timed swing. The game does take hours, but once you've bothered to teach yourself just a little, you find it enchantingly reduced to an inexorable series of tension-filled moments.
It's a sport, in short, that deserves and rewards close attention. Now the ICC is doing its level best to block your entry.
Removing Canada from the equation hurts on many levels. First, funding. The ICC is the major contributor to Canada's national program, sending $900,000 U.S. our way each year. Gocool fears that amount could drop by a third, putting the entire set-up in danger.
Second, without hope of a World Cup spot, any future stars developed in this country will surely feel the lure to play elsewhere. We've already felt this sting over and over again in soccer.
Third, it's antithetical to basic sporting values. The games we play reflect a common human value — inclusiveness. The idea that no one but a select few may play in a given event is an anti-sport philosophy. Who wants to join a club that won't have them?
Never mind that it's hallucinatory to think that any sport can remain in permanent stasis. Ask the Americans about basketball.
Mainly, it's just sad. I was only beginning to appreciate one of the world's best loved pastimes. Now a few short-sighted bureaucrats have decided that they'd rather I didn't care after all.