Cricket is not currently a mainstream sport in Canada. It is unusual in that it is the only country in the former British Empire where it is a minor sport.
In Canada it is now mostly played by immigrants from countries where it is an extremely popular sport.
However, there are now big plans to boost the profile of cricket domestically and internationally with a “twenty-twenty” tournament
A new T20 league is being set up. Jason Harper is the tournament director for the new league.Listen
The new league is known as Global T20 Canada and will have six franchise teams, five Canadian-based and one from the Caribbean. The Canadian teams are the Edmonton Royals, Montreal Tigers, Toronto Nationals, Vancouver Knights and Winnipeg Hawks, the sixth team will be known as Cricket West Indies.
Twenty-twenty cricket is an adaptation of the game, suited to today’s environment in which matches last only about 3 hours.
The league has lined up some top international cricket talent, but to ensure Canadian content, each of the Canadian teams must have at least four Canadian members.
The tournament will take place over three weeks from June 28 to July 15 at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City about 30 kilometres north of Toronto. The MLCC is one of only two in Canada approved by the International Cricket Council for One Day International matches and has held a number of top international matches.
Harper notes that when the franchise league and tournament was announced just two weeks ago over 1600 players from 43 countries around the world registered their desire to be selected.
Harper says mainstream TV rights are being negotiated with games strategically scheduled for prime time in the Indian subcontinent. He also says interest is high among potential sponsors, which will be critical for the league’s survival.
It could be a struggle for cricket to gain a foothold in mainstream coverage in the North American environment where U.S summer sports clearly dominate and completely occupy the airwaves, from baseball, to auto racing, golf, basketball, (rugby) football and so on.
Even soccer (football) the world’s summer sport, has had a tough time breaking through in Canada and North America.
However, if enthusiasm is anything to go by, the organisers of Global T20 Canada seem determined to break through into the mainstream.