Scarborough cricket grows despite cash concerns

Organized recreational cricket has been around a long time in Scarborough but funding issues continue to hinder its development, members of the Highland Creek Cricket Club say.

“Cricket is like hockey when it comes to equipment: it’s expensive,” club treasurer Paul Casinathan says. “But it’s starting to grow at a grassroots level. Our goal as a team is to expand and have younger people play.”

The Scarborough Cricket Association is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary at its annual banquet on Nov. 20.

So what is the driving force behind the longevity of cricket in Scarborough despite financial woes?

“It’s the passion,” Highland club batsman Sean De Saram says. “You have immigrants coming every year and they want to keep their tradition.”

“Among the Asian and West Indian communities, [cricket] is very popular,” says Robert Parish, secretary and wicket keeper. “But I think it’s starting to expand beyond the traditional audience. Everything bodes well for the future.”

Along with specialty television channels and vast Internet coverage, increased funding at the school level has also helped nurture cricket in Canada, club members say.

Scarborough cricket grounds
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Despite the growing interest in cricket, City of Toronto politicians are not capitalizing on the opportunity to reach immigrant communities through the sport, says captain Adam de Costa.

“The biggest expense for most teams is the playtime and the city is not doing anything to help,” he says. “They keep raising the rates.”

Toronto also has to work harder to maintain Scarborough’s cricket grounds, says batsman Rajiv Krishna.

“The city doesn’t cut the grass short enough and the ground is uneven so the ball won’t even make it past the 30-yard circle,” Krishna says. “In the last year, we got Astroturf grounds. Astroturf is cheaper and convenient and easier to play on.”

But overhauling cricket grounds can be a huge expense.

“To fix something like that, [the city] has to redo the whole grounds,” de Costa says. “It costs $10,000 each to redo a cricket ground and $3,000–$4,000 just for the pitch.”

De Costa says this makes it difficult to find grounds for recreational cricket, since there are only eight cricket grounds in Scarborough to be shared among the association’s 29 teams.