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Last updated: Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 16:55 GMT


Canada's rich cricket history
Don Bradman in action in the 1930s
Don Bradman toured Canada with the Australian party in 1932
Ice hockey, baseball, skiing and skating are widely regarded as the most popular sports in Canada.

And cricket - that's right cricket - is aiming to join that elite group.

It is estimated that there are 12,000 players within the Canadian Cricket Association, playing in 400 teams around 145 grounds.

Not bad for a country with a population of 30 million - just over half of England.

So how did cricket reach the northern-most areas of North America?

Many enthusiasts in Canada believe that the sport reached their shores during the mid 1700s with British soldiers following the battle at the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City.

But it was schoolmaster George A Barber, considered to be the father of Canadian cricket, who spread the word throughout Toronto during the early 19th century.

Popularity for the game grew rapidly in the country and, in 1844, Canada played the United States in New York.

The match happened 30 years before England and Australia contested a series, and historians believe the contest is the oldest international sporting fixture in the world.

A Canadian record

In 1892, the Canadian Cricket Association was formed. However popularity for the sport was on the wane as baseball's grew.

Between that time and the Second World War there were a number of cricketing highlights, including a 1932 tour by an Australia squad including Don Bradman.

In a match against Western Ontario, Bradman scored 260 runs - a Canadian record which stood for 58 years.

After the war Pakistan and the MCC visited Canada on tours, beginning a cricketing revival in the country.

But it was in 1975 and 1979 that Canada came under the sport's spotlight.

First, Eastern Canada beat the touring Australian World Cup side by five wickets.

Four years later, Canada reached the final of the first International Cricket Conference Trophy, only to be beaten by Sri Lanka.

That effort earned them a place in the 1979 World Cup, where they performed valiantly against the likes of England, Pakistan and Australia, but still failed to win a single match

And in 2001, Canada played host to the International Cricket Council Trophy tournament.

The nation finished third out of 22, to qualify for the 2003 World Cup.



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