If you were to ask 100 people in North America what they believed was the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer, you would get some pretty varied answers. Many would say basketball, football, baseball or even hockey, and a few more of the more international sports fans might think the answer was rugby.
But in terms of total fans, cricket is the second biggest sport in the world. There are only a handful of countries around the world where cricket is the national sport, far fewer than sports like rugby. However, those countries happen to be some of the most populous in the world (including India and Bangladesh) and this, combined with the fact that cricket is one of the top three sports everywhere from Australia and New Zealand to South Africa and England, means the only sport that can top cricket in terms of spectator numbers is soccer.
But how big is cricket in Canada, how can cricket fans in Canada follow the sport, buy cheap gear and get cheap tickets, and what should they do if they want to play the game themselves or get their kids involved with it?
The Rules of Cricket
Cricket can seem like an inaccessible game at first glance. It’s slow moving, uses a lot of terms that only exist within the game of cricket, and doesn’t bear any similarities to other popular sports.
But the basic rules are actually quite simple and once you get to grips with these then everything else falls into place. So let’s focus on the basics:
Cricket is played between two teams, each having a chance to field and to bat. When fielding, the goal is to get the other player out by either catching a ball straight off the bat, or hitting the wickets (three sticks) behind the batter. There are two people in bat at any given time, one either side of the 22 yard pitch, and when only one person remains, the fielding team then takes their turn at bat.
When batting the goal is to get as many points as possible without losing all of their batters. A point is scored when the person in bat runs from one end of the pitch to the other, with the person on the other side doing the same. This means that if an odd amount of runs are scored, then the second batsman will become the batter.
If the ball rolls over the outer boundary line of the field then it scores a total of 4 points. If it flies over the top without bouncing, then it scores 6.
There is a set number of overs for each phase of play. Each over consists of a total of 6 balls, which means that each batting team gets a limited number of balls in which to score their total, with those overs being cut short if they run out of batsman. The team with the highest total at the end of both phases of play is the winner.
One-Day International vs Twenty20
There are several types of cricket. The One-Day International, or ODI, format is the longest, with a total of 50 overs. The Twenty-20 format was designed to be quicker and more exciting. There are only 20 overs during this format and there is also a “Powerplay” which encourages big hitting by limiting the starting positions of fielders.
ODIs can last several days, especially as most games are played as a series and not a single game. Twenty20 games, however, tend to be over within a few hours. Internationals are played using both formats and there are World Cups and other events for each format. But many modern domestic leagues are opting for the T20 format only, as they know this is the format that modern fans want to see and the format that is most likely to attract new spectators.
Cricket vs Baseball
Both cricket and baseball involve phases of fielding and bowling, with points being scored for runs and boundary hits. They are both very long, with games usually lasting for hours, and they are both very slow.
But that’s where the similarities end. They use different equipment, different scoring systems and different pitches. However, fans of baseball may find that they can easily adapt to the game of cricket, certainly more so than lifelong fans of quick, non-stop games like rugby and soccer.
Cricket in Canada: Domestic and International
Cricket is considered to be a minor sport in Canada, with most players being expats from countries like India, England and Australia.
Canada is not a test nation, which means it is not one of the biggest cricket nations, but it did play in the first ever recorded international match way back in 1844 and it does have a domestic setup.
The Global T20 Canada became the first ever ICC sanctioned franchise-based T20 cricket competition in North America in 2018, and could be a springboard for many other competitions to follow. T20 franchise leagues have been springing up all over the world in recent years, helping to boost the popularity of this game, and if this works well in Canada then it could turn the eyes of many cricketing nations towards North America.
Other events already established in Canada include the CIBC National Cricket League, which was established back in 2005. It has struggled with consistency over the years, but after bringing in some teams from Trinidad and Tobago there was an improvement in quality.
Canadian National Cricket Team
Not only is there a Canadian cricket team, but it has actually appeared in 4 World Cups and has been a member of the ICC (the official governing body of world cricket) since 1968.
At the time of writing they are moving back to Division Two after recently being relegated to Division Three, and this is a pretty big deal and means they are not far off from competing at the highest level.
It is thought that the game was introduced to Canada by British soldiers, but the majority of the current team consists of expats from India, Pakistan and other major cricketing nations.
Toronto Cricket Club
The Toronto Cricket Club was established way back in 1827 by George Barber, an Englishman who emigrated to Canada and took his love of cricket with him.
This club also hosts skating and curling and it is the only ground in Canada to have hosted a One-Day International. If cricket ever does become huge in Canada then you get the feeling that this is where the foundations will be built.
So, get yourself to the Toronto Cricket Club to experience a little Canadian cricket history and to potentially learn about the future of the game in this country as well.
Maple Leaf Cricket Club
This club was established in 1954 and is located about 30 miles north of Toronto. There are five cricket grounds in the facility and it is considered to be the main facility in Canada for the game of cricket.
It hosted the Global T20 Canada, one of the first major cricket competitions to be staged in Canada and one that helped the country to take a giant leap towards becoming a major cricketing nation.
Cricket in Canada: Following the Big Teams
If you want to follow the big teams in Canada then take a look at the sections below. We have highlighted the best and cheapest ways to follow all of these teams.
India National Cricket Team
Eden Gardens in Kolkata is one of the best grounds in India, with 66k capacity and a history of great matches. In fact, it is the largest cricket stadium in the world in terms of capacity, which makes this an experience that all cricket fans need to have at least once.
This stadium is the home ground of the West Bengal team and the Kolkata Knight Riders, but it has also hosted many games by the Indian cricket team. Kolkata, also known as Calcutta, is a region steeped in history, but you can get a four or five star hotel for as little as $30 and the tickets are cheap too.
The only major expense is the flights, but if you check with our CheapoAir deals page you can save on these too.
England National Cricket Team
England have played at a number of grounds over the years, most recently the County ground in Somerset. These areas can be expensive for holiday makers and it’s a long trek to make if you’re not even going to be visiting a big city.
However, they also play in Leeds and Manchester, which are much cheaper in terms of hotels and travel, and there is still plenty to see while you’re there. Manchester has a great live music scene and Leeds is a very vibrant city, so check the schedule as they tend to play here several times a year.
Australia National Cricket Team
Australia is a long way to go to watch cricket, but they regularly tour England, which is cheaper. In fact, they often play at grounds in Leeds and Manchester too. At the time of writing Australia are preparing for a tour of England that will take them to Nottingham, Cardiff, London and Birmingham, all great cities, many of which are cheap for tourists.
Check the schedule, wait for the Aussies to play in the North of England or in Wales, and then book your tickets.
The Cricket World Cup
There are two World Cups in cricket, one for the ODI format and the other for the T20 format. The ICC World Cup, which uses the ODI format, is probably the more renowned one, and the one that everyone thinks of when they hear the words “Cricket World Cup”.
The next one is due to take place on 2019 in England and Wales. As mentioned above under our England National Cricket Team section, there are some cheaper stadiums in the country where you can watch cricket without blowing your budget. Some of these stadiums are very impressive, but none of them are quite like the grand soccer and rugby union stadiums you will find in England.
For the biggest cricket stadiums you have to travel further afield, to countries like India. As mentioned already, they have the world’s biggest stadium, and that stadium will likely play a role in the 2023 World Cup, which is due to be hosted in India.
On the one hand, accommodation and even flights will likely be cheaper here than in England. On the other hand, the demand will be crazy as there are millions of cricket fans in India who will be looking to snap those tickets up. If you want to stand a chance of seeing any of the games then you will need to book your tickets as early as possible, preferably a couple of years before the staging of the cup.
There are also a couple of T20 World Cups coming up, with the next one taking place in Australia in 2000 and then India following in 2021 (they don’t use the four year format that the ODI World Cup uses).
How to Watch Cricket Live in Canada (Streaming and TV)
As mentioned already, there are many cricket leagues and international competitions taking place every single year. A week doesn’t pass without at least a few games of quality domestic or international competition, and if you look hard enough then you can watch these on your TV or through your computer or device.
Cricket on TV
If you are one of the few North American TV fans who is able to get global sports channels then look for Sky Sports, as they have a dedicated cricket channel during all major international competitions and they also show a lot of domestic games.
If you have access to SportsNet then you should also be able to watch a number of domestic games, including many top contests from the Indian Premier League, which is one of the best domestic leagues out there.
ESPN also show some games. There is a Cricket Pass that gives you access to a number of top TV content, but you will need to pay extra for this, usually around $30 a month.
The BBC show a lot of cricket, especially outside of the United Kingdom, with channels like Sky Sports assuming the role inside the UK.
Other Ways to Watch Cricket Online
There are many sources out there that promise to give you live streams of cricket, only to fill your computer with viruses instead. We can’t recommend any of these simply because we can’t guarantee that any of them are 100% legitimate and virus free.
However, such sites and services do exist and we have also heard from fans who have used everything from Youtube to Kodi to watch streamed live cricket matches.
Is it Legal to Watch Live Streaming Cricket Online?
It all depends. If you are streaming a paid service for free, then there is a high chance that what you are doing is illegal. After all, you’re essentially stealing content that the network paid a lot of money to acquire and that many of their customers are paying good money for.
However, we live in the age of streaming and many networks and organizers are now openly streaming live games on Facebook and Youtube in order to attract more fans, get more bums on seats, and increase merchandise. These streams pop-up all of the time, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.
You can also watch a lot of free, legal cricket streams on betting sites like Bet365. All you need to do is make sure you have an account and that you have money in your account, and that will give you access to a host of live steams, including many domestic and international cricket games.
Buy Cricket Gear
You can buy quality cricket gear from a number of suppliers here in Canada. We have provided more details on how to save money with these purchases below.
Cricket bats are very heavy and are made to a very high standard to ensure they can take the repeated force of a high-speed ball without being compromised. As a result, you should avoid cheap bats and make sure you spend good money on a good bat.
If you’re buying for a child, you will want to look for smaller, lighter bats. Don’t worry about these becoming damaged, because unless your child’s friend can bowl a ball at 100 mph, it’s highly unlikely that will happen.
You can buy bats at many specialist retailers, but we find that the best place to get them is from Amazon.ca. What’s more, when you use our Amazon Canada Deals page you can pickup big savings to get these bats for a fraction of the retail price.
Many players have died from being hit by cricket balls, even with all of the padding they wear. It’s unlikely to occur at an amateur level because the balls are not bowled as quickly, but it’s a risk you shouldn’t take.
Make sure you buy a sturdy, well-made cricket helmet to keep your head protected at all times and if you have the money, invest in all-over protection as well. If not, just make sure your key areas are covered.
You will also need a ball, and if you want to setup the field yourself then you will need some wickets too. Unlike in baseball, fielders in cricket do not wear catching mitts, so these are not required.