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May 13, 2006
As Canada prepare to face Bermuda and Zimbabwe in the ICC's tri-nation tournament in Trinidad, the president of the Canadian Cricket Association has admitted to being rather jealous of the cash-rich Bermudans. And Ben Sennik has set out his vision for Canada being a Test-playing nation within a decade.
Bermuda have been given $11 million by their government to pump into the game, and Sennik admitted that he was more than a little jealous. "We were gasping when we heard that," he told the Mid-Ocean News. "I wish we could have just a little bit of that.
"It's a lot of money. Our budget is a lot less. We have applied to the Canadian Federal Government for funding and we are eligible. In fact we should have applied years ago. Hopefully some help will be coming but no way close to what you have been given. That is a huge sum of money."
Canada, who will be in the 2007 World Cup, are aiming high, and Sennik said that he was looking at being a Test-playing nation "in eight to ten years". To do that, he realises that all the players must become professionals. "I don't see any other way. We have to go up progressively. Our bread earners on the team are neither amateurs or professionals. We are looking at the (pro) possibility as soon as a financial base has been established. We have to get salaried players. To get to the objectives we want we have to have professional players. The first thing we have to do is set up a strong financial base."
Sennik went on to explain that cricket was the fastest growing sport in Canada. "Actually cricket was originally the national sport in Canada in the 1800s. The game has a great history in Canada. It had its low period over the years but in the last five years we have seen a huge upsurge in popularity. It is being played in the schools." This boom has coincided with the influx of immigrants, especially from the subcontinent and the Caribbean.
He then said that appointment of Andy Pick, on a one-year sabbatical from the English board to help Canada prepare for the World Cup, had been a big boost. "I am very impressed with him. He took over about two weeks ago and the changes he is bringing about are amazing. We believe he will be a great mentor to our players, especially the younger ones, he will earn respect very quickly, he has a great technical understanding of the game and he believes in a disciplined approach.
"He has a wealth of playing and coaching experience and that will be a critical factor in lifting Canada's performance as they head towards their second appearance at a World Cup."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.