Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cricket's proving ground

Four Manitobans have earned spots on Canada's national teams

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 Team Canada cricketers (from left to right) Trevor Manoosingh, Sheryl Tittlemier, Vasu Shah and Vijayani Vithanage are keen to grow their sport in Manitoba.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Team Canada cricketers (from left to right) Trevor Manoosingh, Sheryl Tittlemier, Vasu Shah and Vijayani Vithanage are keen to grow their sport in Manitoba. Photo Store

Four cricketers -- all decked out in Canadian red -- are standing on a cricket pitch at Assiniboine Park posing for photographs.

 

And the fact the four athletes were either all born or now live in Manitoba is no small development, especially to those locally who are trying to grow the game and the International Cricket Council (ICC) types who are in Winnipeg to see what's in place here.

'I do everything I can to try and get cricket growing in Manitoba. I still have a lot to learn, but I look forward to trying to help promote cricket in Canada'

-- national team member Trevor Manoosingh

"It's absolutely critical," said David Patterson, Cricket Canada's high performance manager at a press conference Wednesday. "It's the CANADIAN team, so it's vital that we have players and programs in place right across the whole breadth of the country.

"The best cricketer can come from anywhere. Right now we've got two players on our national women's team from Winnipeg and Manitoba and we've got two players from Winnipeg on our under-19 men's team. That's vital."

Patterson, along with Canadian national senior cricket team coach Gus Logie and Richard Done, the ICC's global high performance manager, have spent the last couple of days in Winnipeg on a fact-finding mission.

Their goal is to not only study the facilities and programs in place here, but to help set standards for coaching. It doesn't hurt, either, that this province is now producing players who are representing Canada internationally.

Vijayani Vithanage grew up in Sri Lanka before moving to Winnipeg when she was 17 and calls representing Canada "a big honour." Cheryl Tittlemeir of Selkirk, a member of the Canadian women's national squad, turned to cricket after playing baseball and while looking for a change in a summertime activity. Both will be heading to Ireland in July to help Canada in the next stage of World Cup qualifiers.

"I moved back to Winnipeg (from Ottawa) three years ago and there is quite a high level of play and a good infrastructure here compared to what I saw in Ottawa," said Tittlemeir. "This is fabulous for us. To give this kind of exposure to some of the top cricket officials puts us on the map and helps creates more interest."

And then there are the two Winnipeg men who are part of Canada's under-19 team -- Trevor Manoosingh and Vasu Shah -- both of them acting as ambassadors and promoters of the sport here.

"I do everything I can to try and get cricket growing in Manitoba," said Manoosingh, a graduate of Vincent Massey Collegiate who was attending the University of New South Wales before returning home and enrolling at the U of M. "I still have a lot to learn, but I look forward to trying to help promote cricket in Canada. It's something I really want to do."

Shah, who was born in India but first started playing cricket here, also wore his Canadian jersey proudly on Wednesday.

"This is fantastic," said Shah. "Hopefully I can do well to keep my spot on the team."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 9, 2013 D4

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