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The past and present of cricket in Canada

John Davison
John Davison

Cricket has long been a worldwide game. However, it’s not as popular across the world as it is in countries such as England and India. The relationship with cricket for Canadians has at times been a complex one. We’ve taken a close look at how cricket has developed in Canada over the years and what position it’s in at the moment.


Cricket sports betting


This has long been the most consistent relationship that Canadians have had with cricket. While actually playing the game has changed in terms of levels of popularity, betting on international cricket games has been a regular occurrence for Canadian players. While there are a number of online casinos in place within the country, it’s usually brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and specialized online sportsbooks that are most commonly used for cricket betting.


It’s a strange dichotomy as cricket doesn’t enjoy the same level of popularity either as a pastime or as a spectator sport for Canadians as it does for sports betting. This could be a by-product of the previous levels of popularity that saw cricket being one of the most popular sports in Canada. It meant that international cricket has maintained an interest for players in terms of sports betting.


The history of cricket in Canada


As previously mentioned, cricket has a storied history within Canada. It was actually the most popular sport within Canada in the 1800s, with the British having introduced it to the country and developing it to a high level. In fact, cricket was so popular at this point that the first ever Prime Minister for Canada said that cricket was the national sport for the country. It’s not just this level of popularity that made it so impressive during this period either.


Canada actually took part in the first ever international match, playing a Test against the USA. This shows the history and prestige that cricket has within Canada as a whole. However, this level of popularity wasn’t to last in the long term.


By the early 1900s, other sports within the region had started to take over. This left cricket as a second-class sport within Canada. Many players moved on to playing ice hockey, football and soccer. Ice hockey obviously grabbed a huge amount of popularity due to the weather within Canada making it a much easier sport to play. Cricket is generally a summer sport, and with winter being much harsher in Canada, it meant that more players moved on to playing ice hockey than cricket.


It means that currently, cricket is no longer the most popular sport within the country. Of course, this does leave a lot of room for growth.


Cricket is growing


After years of being left as a secondary sport, cricket has actually come back to the forefront within Canada over the last few years. It’s actually the fastest-growing sport within the country at this moment in time. In fact, there are more than 40,000 players in the country, helping to make cricket a sport that’s on the up.


What doesn’t help Canada in terms of growing to a higher level is that it’s not a big player on the international stage. Although Canada does play some international games, it’s not allowed to play in Test matches. This means that all it can compete in currently are One Day Internationals (ODIs).


Canada has grounds that are able to host ODI games, but it doesn’t quite qualify to hold Test matches. It does compete in international tournaments against other countries that don’t play Test matches, and it has competed in some big tournaments in the past. For example, Canada competed in the 2007 Cricket World Cup in its most recent appearance.


Famous players


In terms of famous players, this is another issue that Canada suffers from. It doesn’t have any top-level players who play for the national team. The only player who has ever performed for the national team at a high level was John Davison, who retired in 2011. What doesn’t help matters here is that Davison grew up in Australia, so there’s no club within the country that can lay claim to having developed him. This limits the draw to Canadian youngsters in terms of trying to play high-level cricket.


As there aren’t too many idols that Canadian youngsters can look up to and try to emulate, this is unlikely to help Canada develop more players in the future. While it’s not the main driver, it often helps for players to have people to look up to when trying to achieve their dreams.


A great example of this would be Wayne Gretzky. His ability within the game inspired a whole generation of ice hockey players within Canada. For cricket to have a similar level of growth, it would require a player of a similar standard to come through in Canada.


Although this is unlikely at the moment, the pace that the sport is growing within the country does make it a slight possibility in the future.


The future


The future of cricket within Canada is a tough one to call. Although it’s growing at a fast rate, there is still no mainstream support within the country. As such, it is hard for players to be able to play at youth level, and there certainly isn’t as much support on offer as there is for other sports. Even soccer has a huge amount of extra support when compared to cricket.


It’s expected that Canada will continue trying to develop its game by gaining closer ties with the International Cricket Council (ICC). This will allow the country to host a number of events where some of the bigger names in the game will travel to play exhibition games. Canada has regularly acted as a host for a number of international games. It means that there is potential for growth within the country, and it could become a much bigger game in Canada in the future.