'Now, there are three TV channels devoted to cricket'
With new immigrants coming to Canada from India and other South Asian countries, cricket as a sport is fast catching up in this ice hockey-crazy country.
"Cricket is the number one sport in India and the new immigrants from there bring the game here as they have grown up with it," said Ravin Moorthy, vice-president, Cricket Canada.
Earlier young kids from immigrant communities opted for ice hockey, basketball, baseball, but not many of them thought of cricket.
"When India won the World Cup in 1983, we couldn't watch that game," said Moorthy. "We had to wait for the videos, but not any more. Now there are three TV channels devoted almost full time to cricket."
Image: Ravin Moorthy, vice president, Cricket Canada
'Significant increase in cricket's popularity'
Young South Asians in schools, colleges and universities are pushing and promoting cricket irrespective of their backgrounds, Moorthy added.
"There's a great expansion of cricket in schools and there has been a very, very significant increase in cricket's popularity in the country," he said.
Ben Sennik, former president, Cricket Canada, gave a historical background to the game's growth in Canada.
"From around 1850 to the 1960s the sport was dominated by the British," he said. "From the early 1960s till 2000, cricket was dominated by Canadians who came from the West Indies, as they were the world's most dominant team."
Sennik agreed with Moorthy that from early 2000 "the communities from the Indian subcontinent brought an added emphasis on cricket. They even dominate the management in the upper echelons of Cricket Canada".
Image: Ben Sennik
'Our players will spring some surprises'
Canada now has 20 leagues in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Prince Edward Islands. There are 290 cricket clubs in the country with close to 50,000 registered and unregistered players.
There are 6 million Canadians who follow cricket, said Sennik.
There are 120 schools where kids in the age group of 14 to 18 have started playing cricket, he said.
Moorthy has high expectations from the Canadian team in the 2011 World Cup, despite it "still being an associate member" and in a group that has Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Kenya.
"We defeated Zimbabwe in a Twenty20 match in Toronto in 2008. And this time we are so much better prepared. The idea is for us to better our performance in the second round. We do have the personality that we are ready to push. We are competitive and our players will spring some surprises," Moorthy said.
Image: Canadian team during a practice session
Photographs: Getty Images