No ground found for Intercontinental Cup tie

Canada in frantic search for a venue

Wisden Cricinfo staff

August 2, 2004

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Fit for first-class cricket? The wicket at Sunnybrook © Jon Harris, canadacricket.com
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In two weeks, Canada host Bermuda in the ICC's Intercontinental Cup, with a place in the semi-finals awaiting them if they win. But the venue for the match in Toronto remains undecided, with the initial choice - the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club - ruled out after the Canadian board (CCA) failed to reach an agreement with the ground authorities.

The search for an alternative has been frantic and frustrating, with alternative venues not being sufficiently prepared for such a major game. The only venue remotely in with a chance of being ready is at Sunnybrook, but a cursory inspection over the weekend revealed that there was bare soil on the mottled wicket intended for the match. Furthermore, the surface is far from flat, and it is almost inconceivable that there is enough time before the tie - which is scheduled to start on August 13 - to put things right. The facilities at the club are also basic.

The TCSCC is clearly the major ground, having hosted the Sahara Cups in the 1990s, and the one assumed by outsiders to be the natural choice. But the CCA refused to agree to the financial demands of the owners, starting the desperate hunt for an alternative. According to a senior official of the TCSCC, the CCA only formally approached them on July 26, less than three weeks before the match, even though the TCSCC had been asking for clarification of the board's intentions since April.

The main problem facing the CCA is that the match has to be played on grass, and the bulk of matches in Canada are on artificial or matting wickets. Experience of preparing and maintaining grass pitches is limited, and by refusing the TCSCC terms so late in the day, the board has painted itself into a corner.

It stands accused of poor management of the whole venture. Aside from the farrago surrounding the venue, with less than a fortnight before the game it was impossible to find out information about the fund-raising banquet intended to coincide with the match.

This is the board's chance to put Canadian cricket on the map and show the international community that it has what it takes to be taken seriously. It is looking set to do just the opposite.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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