‘Today, cricket in Canada is experiencing renewed popularity. Immigration in the 1970s sparked new interest in the sport and participation is increasing’
By Chris Redford –
Ask Canadians who Frederick Heather is and the universal response is, “I never heard of him.” How about George Barber or John Davison? “No, don’t know them either.” These names are well known in Canadian cricket communities. Frederick Heather was a legendary cricket umpire, George Barber is regarded as the “Father of Canadian Cricket” and John Davison has represented Canada in three consecutive Cricket World Cups and holds the record for scoring the fastest century. Remarkably, there is not a single name from cricket in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, which might account for some of this anonymity.
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame has named inductees since 1955 when the doors were first opened. To date, a total of 514 honoured athletes and builders have been admitted from 58 sports. It is the Hall’s vision to inspire Canadian identity and national pride by telling the compelling stories of those outstanding achievements that make up Canada’s sports history. What is being done to inspire Canadian cricketers?
Cricket was first recorded in 1785 at Ile-Ste-Helene in Montreal, Quebec, giving Canadians 225 years from which to draw inspiration. The Toronto Cricket Club was founded in 1827. The first international sports competition of the modern era was a cricket match between Canada and the U.S.A. on September 24-26, 1844. Canada was victorious in this history making sports event. In 1867, our first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald declared cricket Canada’s national sport. In 1892, the Canadian Cricket Association was started, which now is called Cricket Canada.
Today, cricket in Canada is experiencing renewed popularity. Immigration in the 1970s sparked new interest in the sport and participation is increasing. In 2008, the Canadian Sports Minister, Helena Guergis, declared federal funding for the promotion of cricket across Canada. Cricket Canada’s website reports in 2009 over 20,000 children
played cricket in both school and community based development programs. Cricket Canada has also developed women’s cricket, a new area of growth for the sport. Finally, in 2010, Patrick Adams published “A History of Canadian Cricket”, the first major publication on this topic in more than a century.
Canadian cricket players are also promoting the sport on the cricket pitch. Canada’s National Cricket Team has qualified for four Cricket World Cups, most recently in 2011. York University (Toronto) won a varsity cricket tournament in the United States as the lone Canadian entry. The under-19 Canadian team qualified for the Cricket World Cup in 2010. International competition can inspire a new generation of cricketers, ask Russia where tennis was before Anna Kournikova.
While Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame has the doors closed to cricket, we can read Patrick Adams’ new book on the History of Canadian Cricket and cheer for Canada in the 2011 Cricket World Cup. A strong performance on the world stage may be the key to opening some doors for Canadian cricket.