London·Video

Could Canada's cricket team be competitive on the world stage one day?

Cricket player and coach Rajath Shetty hopes bringing the game to children in London, Ont., will inspire a crop of talented young players who will one day build a more competitive national team.

Coach behind a new cricket camp for kids in London, Ont., wants to build a future generation of players

Cricket for kids in London, Ontario

1 month ago
Duration 1:07
Rajath Shetty hopes the dream to build a competitive national cricket team in Canada starts on a dried-out pitch in London, Ont.

Rajath Shetty hopes the dream to build a competitive national cricket team in Canada starts on a dried-out pitch in London, Ont. 

The longtime player and now coach believes bringing cricket to children in the city will help develop a crop of talented young players as part of a bigger movement that sees Canada embrace the game.

"We see lots of people coming from cricket-playing nations, but we don't find a lot of kids playing at this age," said Shetty.

He's a competitive player with the London Cricket Club, which competes against teams across Ontario.

According to its Facebook page, the London club is one of the oldest cricket club in Canada dating back to at least 1856.

"The game needs to really grow. It has to come up on the kids' level," said Shetty. 

"If there's no base built, the game itself will not expand in Canada."

Rajath Shetty plays cricket competitively in London, Ont., and this summer launched a cricket camp for kids. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

This month, Shetty launched the free Little Wizards Cricket Camp for kids between ages 5 and 14.

"I've been playing since I can remember," said Shetty, who grew up in India and moved to London 12 years ago. "Every kid who grows up wants to be big in the game."

Canada has appeared in the World Cup on four occasions and has registered two wins in the Cricket World Cup, defeating Bangladesh in 2003 and Kenya in 2011. But Canada is, by all regards, an insignificant player on the international stage.

Gautam Lodhi, 12, hits the ball at the inaugural practice of the Little Wizards Cricket Camp in London. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

England, Australia and India, respectively, won the last three Cricket World Cups.

"I come from India and cricket is kind of like a religion," said Ananth Bhimavarapu, who admitted he wasn't a great player himself, but was excited to bring his son, Viyos, 8, to the camp.

A line of kids look on as their coaches demonstrate how to properly bowl at the inaugural session of the Little Wizards Kids Cricket Camp. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

"I was more of a cricket watcher," laughed Bhimavarupu. "At least he's better than me than I was at his age. And he's interested in the game, so why not encourage that?"

Viyos has his own ideas about the sport.

"To me, sword fighting and cricket have some similarities," he said. "If you want a sword fight, you've got to block some things, just like when you want to block the ball.

"If you think like the ball is a sword, you need to block it. You have to hit it. Right?"

Ananth Bhimavarapu and his son, Vyas, 8, pose with a bat and ball on Sunday evening (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)

Although cricket was once Canada's official national sport, as declared by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, it doesn't have the same recognition today.

But Shetty can dream.

"Hopefully in 10 or 15 years we see Canada playing competitively on the international circuit."

Yagnam Patel, 13, and Gautam Lodhi, 12, say they are good all-rounders. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)
London Morning host Rebecca Zandbergen takes to the pitch to chat with kids at a new summer camp that teaches them how to play cricket.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 20 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna. Contact Rebecca at rebecca.zandbergen@cbc.ca

now