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Cricket Canada looks forward to the Boundaries North partnership to build on on-field success

Cricket Canada looks forward to the Boundaries North partnership to build on on-field success

“This is a globally recognized brand,” said Cricket Canada president Rashpal Bajwa. “Partnering with them brings a lot of exposure that Cricket Canada needs in Canada right now. The sport is growing. We just need partners like that.”

Cricket Canada has had major sponsors such as CIBC, Etihad Airways and Scotiabank in the past, but not recently.

About 60 per cent of Canadian cricket's funding comes from the International Cricket Council, the world's governing body, Bajwa says. Its contribution depends on Canada's performance on the field and its work off the field to develop the sport.

A small amount comes from Sport Canada while the rest comes from sponsors, fundraisers and the GT20 Championship in Brampton, Ontario.

Last year, Cricket Canada handed out 12 full-time player contracts and six part-time contracts. They pay a modest amount but help pay the bills, and they get paid more when they go on tour.

The deal with Coca-Cola, a global sponsor of the ICC and World Cup, is the first major announcement from Cricket Canada's commercial partnership with Boundaries North, which launched last April.

“It's a first but we eagerly anticipate announcing a number of other important brands that will be joining and supporting Cricket Canada in the near future,” said Rahul Srinivasan, CEO of Boundaries North.

Bajwa says he expects Boundaries North to play a “vital role in the growth of cricket in Canada.”

He points out that Cricket Canada's governing body is a voluntary affair. “These are the guys who have the experience,” he said of Boundaries North.

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The top dogs in world cricket have Test status and are considered full members of the ICC. Then there are affiliate members with one-day status – such as Canada – and affiliate-only members.

“In the world of affiliate cricket, the commercial elements can sometimes be a struggle for governing bodies to wrap their heads around and allocate resources,” Srinivasan said. “So, it's our responsibility to have conversations with brands, negotiate commercial deals, and then, most importantly, really shine a light on Canadian cricket because a lot of good things are happening within our sport.”

It's a relationship that brings back memories of Canada Soccer's much-maligned deal with the Canadian Soccer Business.

As part of what Srinivasan calls a “multi-contract deal,” Boundaries North pays Cricket Canada an annual fee for its commercial rights to the men's and women's national teams. Then there are mechanisms for sharing profits on the revenues generated.

“Both parties reap the benefits as the sport continues to grow… We have structured it in a way where both parties share the upside,” said Srinivasan, former commercial director of Major League Rugby's Toronto Arrows. And a former Canadian youth international cricketer.

“In many ways we learned from their agreement as well,” he added, referring to the CSB deal.

Srinivasan is quick to distance himself from the CSC comparison, for obvious reasons. Cricket and soccer are at very different stages of their development in Canada, he says.

For one thing, due to a lack of infrastructure, it is difficult to host the Games in Canada. Srinivasan says talks are underway with several municipalities about potential locations.

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“Actually, it doesn't take a huge stadium for major international teams to come and play,” he said.

“Once we have a venue, we will have a very healthy calendar of cricket against the top nations which I think broadcasters will be very keen to show on linear television,” Srinivasan added.

Boundaries North also invests in things like training camps for Canadian teams.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024. Before that, it lost to Malaysia in the final of a triangular series that also included host Hong Kong.

The matches were warm-ups ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 matches starting next week against Scotland and the United Arab Emirates in Dubai. The eight-team league will take three years to complete.

CBC broadcast some of the warm-up matches. “Big win for us,” Srinivasan said.

WEIC (Women, Emerging, Inclusive and Community) Sports United, the investment group behind Boundaries North, started with rugby but is looking to branch out into other sports “at a similar stage of growth and with similar needs”.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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