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The 1977 season was an unusually successful one for Canadian cricket. The scope of activities at the National level and at the Provincial level continued to grow, while in actual competition, Canada performed better at both the Junior and Senior levels than ever before.
In July the first National Under-17 Tournament was held in Victoria, British Columbia, under the guidance of Jack Kyle, the National Junior Cricket Coordinator. He was ably assisted by Peter Spence, the New South Wales Director of Coaching and coaches from each of the participating provinces. Four teams -- British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Western Provinces -- participated, Ontario winning the Championship.
The National Junior (Under 19) side toured the U.K. for three weeks in July before participating in the Second International Youth Festival at Charterhouse School. The tour was one of the most successful ever undertaken by a Junior side. The side, led by Martin Stead (B.C.), won six, drew five, and lost once. In the International Youth Festival Canada won three and lost two, tieing with England South and Denmark in wins and losses, but were placed third on a lower runs-per-wicket average. Denmark were placed fourth, Ireland fifth, and Holland sixth. English North finished first, undefeated. The next tournament is scheduled to take place at Upper Canada College in Toronto, in 1979.
At the Senior level, the National Championship was held in Toronto at Upper Canada College from July 31 to August 6. All seven cricket-playing provinces participated as they did in 1975 at Calgary. All players and officials were housed at the College where all the matches were played. With three good pitches available, all of which were matting on shale, plus the fact that the weather was excellent all week, it was no surprise that a fine week of cricket was enjoyed by all.
It was the first National Championship to be played on an overs basis (50 overs per innings). The reason for changing from time was to give the best players in the country more exposure to this form of cricket in preparation for the World Cup in 1979.
Ontario, unbeaten, retained the Championship with six wins, but met tough competition from both Alberta and British Columbia. The latter team almost caused the major upset of the week in Ontario's last match. Quebec were runners-up with five wins and one loss.
The top bowler of the week was Jitu Patel, Canada's top spinner from London, Ontario, while John Corbin, a very promising 21-year-old from Montreal, Quebec, won the batting Championship. Pip Robins of British Columbia won the fielding award for the second successive Championship.
It was surprising that clubs found it possible to carry on with the John Ross Robertson Trophy competition for the National Club Championship despite the fact that there was no financial assistance from the Federal Government. In 1977 the Federal Government funds went to assist the National Junior tour in the U.K. and the National Senior Championship in Toronto.
League champions representing their province competing in 1977 were as follows: Victoria Alcos, British Columbia; Edmonton Sportsmen, Alberta; Regina, Saskatchewan; Winnipeg Eagles, Manitoba; Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, Ontario; Montreal West Indies, Quebec; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Victoria Alcos lost to Edmonton Sportsmen, while Winnipeg defeated Regina. Edmonton then won the Western title. In the east Quebec went to Halifax to defeat the Nova Scotia champions, then defeated the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, the cup holders, in a match marked by controversy. Edmonton Sportsmen journeyed over 2,000 miles to Montreal only to lose to the West Indian Cricket Club who became the 1977 Canadian Club champions.
Coaching on a National scale was continued in 1977 when the Canadian Cricket Association hired Peter Spence, the New South Wales Director of Coaching. He visited most major cities conducting clinics for coaches, ending his visit in Victoria at the National Under-17 tournament.
Professor J. W. Cole, President of the Canadian Cricket Association, attended the I.C.C. meeting in July and was also present at a number of the matches played in the International Youth Festival. The Association suffered a grievous loss in the death of Donald King, C.M., M.B.E., on October 2, 1977. He had not been well for some time but was present at the National Tournament in August. He served the Canadian Cricket Association for over twenty years, mainly as Secretary.