Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Canada v Ireland, first ODI, Toronto

Poor weather, poor facilities

You can't be picky when watching cricket in Canada. But even for die-hard fans, braving the cold with no food, no entertainment and limited seating can be a trial

Krishna Subbiah

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Khurram Chohan bowls during his fruitful spell, Canada v Ireland, 1st ODI, September 6, 2010
Khurram Chohan turned the game in Canada's favour © Bryan Vandenburg, Cricket Canada
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Players/Officials: Ashish Bagai | Khurram Chohan
Series/Tournaments: Ireland tour of Canada
Teams: Canada | Ireland

The game
Living in Canada means there isn't a wide choice of matches, and the ones played here are limited to those between the ICC associate countries, leaving the charged Sahara Cup encounters between India and Pakistan as a distant memory. Given this scenario, any international match would be welcome. As a bonus this match was played on the Labor Day, a day off.

As far as the prediction goes, Canada had lost a four-day match a few days ago, so they would be hungrier and expected to win on home turf.

Team supported
One of the great things about watching the games between the associate teams is the relatively relaxed atmosphere. A game with plenty of runs and intermittent wickets peppered with great fielding would be great. Having said that, I was rooting for Canada.

Accessories
Carrying a chair would have been very handy as there was very limited seating.

One thing I'd have changed
Weather, Weather, Weather. Cricket's numero uno enemy, sans match/spot-fixing. With all the millions in their coffers, I wonder why the ICC cannot make covers that can cover the entire ground with mechanical retraction. That would possibly allow the games to start as soon as the rain stops.

Key performer
No individual performances stood out in this game. Ruvindu Gunasekera and Ashish Bagai had a good partnership while chasing the Ireland total. Trent Johnston did not give away too many runs and got a bunch of wickets. But Khurram Chohan probably overtook those three in individual performances; he got the first breakthrough wicket, removed the high-scoring John Mooney, and also bowled well at the end.

Face-off I relished
Canada lost their openers cheaply, and Johnston tested the new batsmen really well. But they responded equally well. Much later in the game, Andre Botha was hit for two fours each by Bagai and Gunasekera. Those runs were very crucial for this D/L decider.

Wow moment
As the match was delayed due to weather, there were a number of kids practising in the ground. Most of them were under 10 and it was great to watch them play cricket. Here in Canada, hockey rules. These kids have every reason to pick up that sport which would give them an immediate possibility to impress girls as they move into their teens or a distant possibility of making NHL millions in the future. However they seemed as happy playing cricket as any other kid would be in the subcontinent.

Player watch
The great thing about watching the game in Toronto is the freedom with which a spectator can move around the ground. There was no assigned seating for this game, and one could wander anywhere in the ground and take a seat right next to a boundary rope. So I got an opportunity to see a number of players at close quarters.

Shot of the day
Any time a batsman steps out and hits a six over long-on or long-off, it is a beautiful sight. When they do it against a seamer, it is extra special. Andrew Poynter did exactly that against Harvir Baidwan. But two balls later when he tried it again he was stumped.

Crowd meter
A high school hockey game would have probably attracted more people. The crowd was supportive of the Canadians but every good effort from the Irish was applauded. Overall, a very sporting crowd.

Entertainment
The occasional ringing of the cell phones was the only music around. Cricket Canada could have done a better job of entertaining the crowd.

Overall
The quality of cricket was good but the atmosphere and the overall experience were bad.

Marks out of 10
5. The facilities for the spectators were very poor. It was a chilly afternoon and there was not even a tea vendor, leave alone other drinks and food. A bunch of folks were looking to buy Cricket Canada merchandise and were very disappointed when they couldn't. There were no announcements when the match was delayed, and the spectators were left to make their own assumptions. It felt like the match was conducted just to show that there are cricket matches between associate teams and to show that the ICC's development programme works. It's time for the organisers to wake up, or else they are at the risk of losing even die-hard fans.

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Krishna Subbiah grew up in southern India and now calls Toronto home. When he is done with his day job as a senior strategist for a major software company, he reads, listens and watches cricket often.

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