A paleontologist on cricket in Newfoundland

Postcards from Canada

How to build a team in Newfoundland

Or in any other far-flung place you may live in, where cricket isn't even a stepchild. You may have to carry your bat at all times but this nine-point programme will get you your XI eventually

Liam Herringshaw

July 4, 2010

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

A match in progress on a camping ground, Newfoundland
If the uneven bounce of the grassy knolls of a camping ground doesn't captivate a newbie, nothing will © Liam Herringshaw
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Teams: Canada

Episode two of the story of the resurrection of cricket in Newfoundland and I've decided to make early use of an obvious cultural stereotype. Newfoundlanders are world-renowned for hitting small white objects with wooden sticks, so ought to take to limited-overs cricket like auks to water. And with that out of the way, let's move on to a different kind of hunting: that of cricketers. How does one find them in a place where the game has essentially been dead for a century? It's still early days, but here's my nine-point guide:

Go online. A website and a Facebook group and postings on free-ad sites - all these provide a means for players to find your club. An online search is how I stumbled upon St John's CC in the first place, and it has since been the source of new blood, from curious baseball players to an English PE teacher who'll be summering in Newfoundland, to cricketing Torontans who'd fled here for the quiet life.

Go to work. If, like me, you work in a university, the diverse backgrounds prove a boon. My Manx office mate, Rich, played cricket as a schoolboy, while James the igneous Irishman is normally a rugby player but can be persuade to turn his arm to anything. Now all that remains to be done is to train five Turks, three Germans and an Indonesian in the art of legspin.

Go to the pub. It's pub quiz night on Tuesdays in St John's, and you never know who might turn up. You probably don't expect it to include Premier League footballers, but you'd be mistaken. So when you see former Leicester City star Ian Marshall at the bar, go over and ask him if he fancies a game of cricket. If you're lucky, he'll tell you he's a bit of a swing bowler and that his mate Gary is also keen to play.

Go to the park. James advised me he'd heard the thwack of leather on willow in Kelly's Brook Park, a small green space close to campus, so I ventured online for pictorial evidence. Typing "Kelly's", "Brook" and "leather" into a well-known search engine provided images that were undoubtedly revealing, but not very cricketingly informative. Adding "fine leg" to the mix didn't help, either. So on the first sunny Saturday of summer I wandered down to the park and there I met Lutfor and a group of fellow Bangladeshis, then Rakesh and his posse of Indian grad students. They put their names down for the Maritime Twenty20 tournament without a moment's hesitation.

Go to the provincial geological survey. I suspect this probably doesn't apply to anywhere other than Newfoundland, but you might be lucky enough to discover that the head of the provincial geological survey is Dave Liverman, a former director of Cricinfo, who has all sorts of great ideas, and strings to pull.

Go to Mistaken Point. You have no excuses not to visit this amazing ecological reserve, especially when you're a palaeontologist like me. If it's cricketers rather than fossils you seek, however, you will discover that the site manager, Richard, is Welsh, and used to play cricket in the UK and Alberta. Sign him up.

Go camping. Invite a large group of friends to a weekend of loitering within tents and then spring cricket upon them at the camp site. As the photographic evidence shows, early efforts may not go quite to plan, but persevere. Enthusiasm - "It's like a weird mix of golf and softball!" - will come soon enough.

Go home. After the first of these pieces was published, I emailed members of my old cricket team in Leicester - Dale Taverners - to tell them of my crazy plans. One of them soon replied to tell me he now lived in Canada, and in August would be moving to... New Brunswick!

Last but not least, carry a cricket bat with you at all times. You'll get some funny looks, but you'll also get cheerily accosted by people who'll tell you that their Dad used to play, or that a Trinidadian taught them the game when they lived in Edmonton, or that their brother went to school with Rahul Dravid.

If you haven't got some sort of cricket team after all that, well you're really not trying. Next thing you'll be saying that there are no cricket pitches in St John's...

Liam Herringshaw is a medium-paced palaeontologist who moved to Newfoundland from the UK to improve his chances of opening the bowling

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Posted by   on (July 7, 2010, 8:05 GMT)

Brilliant photo! Cricket at its best.

Posted by maverick_ind on (July 5, 2010, 11:54 GMT)

real good read... enjoyed it throughly.

Posted by lucyferr on (July 5, 2010, 1:02 GMT)

Typing "Kelly's", "Brook" and "leather" into a well-known search engine provided images that were undoubtedly revealing, but not very cricketingly informative. Adding "fine leg" to the mix didn't help, either... LOL. Good strategy with the cricket bat though, I can think of one time I was trying to organize cricket in a non-cricket area a long time ago (and miserably failed) when I should have tried that....

Posted by Bang_La on (July 4, 2010, 21:46 GMT)

Ah Liam, you should see his tall face when I replied to what I was so avidly watching on my laptop at late night. It was criclet and I was visiting Corner Brook in NFL from Toronto :) Great article and it was very pragmatic to make the topic selected.

Posted by WeirdBeard on (July 4, 2010, 19:25 GMT)

@Liam - Thanks again for yet another great article, re: Newfoundland cricket. As a Newfoundlander who plays cricket in Nova Scotia, I can't get enough of these 'postcards from Canada' - you may have been a bit harsh with the seal-bashing reference (let's hope Heather Mills doesn't read cricinfo! haha) But hey.. if a Newfoundlander can't take a joke, who can? yes by! ;-)

@David Cuming - http://www.cricketstar.net/qcf/ - this is the website for the Quebec Cricket Federation. Incidentally, the Nova Scotia Cricket Association (where I play) has sent a squad to Montreal to play two T20's and a 40-over match on this weekend (July 3 & 4). The 40-over match is in progress as I type, and the T20's were both won comprehensively by Quebec.. but we'll get 'em in the 40-over match! :-)

Posted by WI-NZ-SA-ENG on (July 4, 2010, 17:02 GMT)

i live in ontario and now i play cricket almost everyday my whole neiborhood is used to it i think it working since we have a lot of sri lankans there....im not a pakistanian

Posted by   on (July 4, 2010, 13:42 GMT)

I have never laughed harder at a cricket article than this one. I tried looking for a cricket club in Quebec but was fairly unsuccessful. They kept thinking I met croquet and was just pronouncing it in my silly Dingo Lingo. Crikey!

Posted by   on (July 4, 2010, 13:31 GMT)

i live in Ontario,Canada and i play cricket with a bunch of my friends everyday anywhere we can find. usually a tennis court, a baseball diamond, roads, a cricket pitch at a paark if it's empty, or if we cant find any thing we play in our small backyards. but what we have done is that we have made cricket more popular... we dont get the weird looks we used to get wen we carried out wickets, bats and everything else to the tennis court anymore. heck some of my teachers also want us to start a cricket team next year at our school.

Posted by garyf on (July 4, 2010, 7:23 GMT)

Does Ian Marshall still have the permed mullet?

Posted by   on (July 4, 2010, 4:38 GMT)

Fun article. Loved reading this.

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