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October 18, 2007
Canada's recently appointed chief executive, Atul Ahuja, will be taking inspiration from his country's high profile sports such as ice hockey in a bid to increase the level of professionalism of cricket.
Ahuja, an Indian-born Canadian citizen with extensive business experience, takes up the role on November 1 and is confident that the shorter format of the game, in particular Twenty20, will prove popular in Canada.
"Cricket holds a huge potential in Canada that needs to be tapped," he told The Economic Times in India. "Typically, for the North American demographics the five-day test match version of the game is somewhat boring. Canada and the US are largely non-cricket playing nations and the psyche of sports lovers is not attuned to a game that goes on for five days.
"But the new shorter Twenty20 format has changed all that. We saw a huge interest in the Twenty20 matches in Canada - and the excitement created by the fireworks and cheerleaders was not just restricted to South Asians in Canada."
And the high level of professionalism in Canada's mainstream sports, such as ice hockey and football, can and should have a beneficial impact on the future of cricket in the country.
"We at the association would like to see professional contracts being drawn up for cricketers in Canada and various events at the provincial level as well," he said. "The league events for games such as baseball and football are a big draw and the same could be done for cricket.
"It's a power-packed format of the game [Twenty20] and we have some events lined up in this format in Canada in the coming months.
"In India, only the top 20-30 cricketers earn good money. We intend to change that and want to take the game to most of our provinces and colleges and universities."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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