THE development of Canadian cricket is closely linked with the game here in Trinidad and Tobago and there is the hope and expectation that the ties will grow even closer in the near future.
This is the view of Johnny Bujan, a Trinidadian who hails from St John's near Princes Town but who has been living in Canada for the past two and a half decades.
He is the manager of the visiting Canadian cricket team currently in T&T for three matches as both teams prepare for important competitive engagements in the coming weeks.
Bujan says the opportunity to travel to T&T and engage the 2013 regional T20 champions is not lost on the ICC Associate members whose short programme comprised a three-day match and two T20 clashes, the second of which will be played on tonight under lights at Guaracara Park in Pointe-a-Pierre.
He praised the local cricket board for accommodating his team as they get a welcome break from the harsh Canadian winter to train and compete at a higher level against the Caribbean champions.
The Canadians are preparing for an ICC scheduled competition in Dubai in March, and despite being crushed by T&T on Tuesday in the three-day encounter, Bujan relishes the prospect of his young, inexperienced side coming up against the home team.
He expressed confidence that new Canada team coach Gus Logie, another Trinidadian who was an outstanding West Indies Test cricketer, will take the team to the next level as they seek to establish themselves on the international stage playing alongside Scotland and Afghanistan.
"Gus brings a lot of experience and knowledge of the game. This is the first big step, getting a very good coach for our pretty young team which comprises six or seven players under the age of 25," said Bujan.
He however called for patience, saying that success would not come overnight.
"I am happy that things are being put in place. Cricket Canada has done a good job so far in hiring the right people and establishing a high performance programme," said Bujan.
He acknowledged that Canada is coming to terms with the challenges they face with regard to the unfriendly climate, lack of facilities and a shallow resource pool from which to select players.
Bujan said there are great facilities to play cricket in Toronto, but Edmonton has just recently acquired a turf pitch and soon Vancouver will have its own dedicated cricket facility.
"We have good facilities in Toronto but we are limited to playing outdoors for three or four months so we do a lot of indoor practice and one of the reasons we are here is to build a relationship with the T&T Cricket Board," said Bujan.
He hopes that the Canadian cricketers can use T&T as a Caribbean base where they can visit for at least three times a year for training and to play competitive matches.
Bujan said the Canada team is still dominated by players who were born outside the country, with only three on the current team in T&T who can be considered home-grown.
They are Nitesh Kumar, Usman Limbada and Hiral Patel. But there are also two players with Caribbean backgrounds in Guyanese-born Damodar Dasrath and fast bowler Jeremy Gordon.
Dasrath is a former Guyana captain who has also played for First Citizens Clarke Road in the T&T Premier League.
Bujan said there are many benefits to be derived from Canada playing in T&T, chief of which is the exposure they are getting to what he considers a very high level of competition.
"We are not there as yet but our players are getting a glimpse of the standard of cricket they are expected to rise to by playing in T&T," said Bujan.