Canada on lookout for female cricketers

ALISON KORN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

There's a little bit of the Memorial Cup in the fledgling Canadian women's cricket team.

Fifteen-year-old Aussie Mikaela Turik is the youngest member of the Canadian women's squad. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, to a Canadian dad and Australian mom, she was the top scorer in two games against the U.S. this week.

Mikaela's grandfather, Frank Turik, was a Memorial Cup winner in 1945 with St. Mike's College, played for the Ottawa Senators and was a member of the Trail Smoke Eaters that won the 1961 world championship against the Soviets.

Grandfather and granddaughter share a jersey number, No. 16, and a passion for competing for Canada.

"He knew she had chosen No. 16 and was quite proud of that," said David Turik, Mikaela's dad and Frank's son, who first suggested Mikaela try out for the Canadian team. "It's fantastic."

Frank passed away last year. He would have turned 85 Thursday.

He was pretty influential," said Mikaela. "I look up to him as one of my guidances, just to play in the way he played, like good sportsmanship, always honest with themselves and honest with the game and trying 110% for every little thing that happens in the game."

Cricket is huge in Australia with 20,000 women playing in Mikaela's home state of New South Wales, yet only 500 women in play in all of Canada. The Canadian team is a true picture of multiculturalism, with 11 nationalities represented on the squad. A lot of them learned the game where they were born.

"Pakistan, India, Kenya, Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka, they're coming from all over," Canadian head coach George Codrington said. "Coming to Canada, not knowing that there is women's cricket here, no real grassroots, that poses problems. There's nothing to draw from. We're really relying on the immigrants coming to the country. They only know about the men. We have a few who are Canadian-born and they learned it in the schools."

Codrington wants to get the word out to female cricket players -- and softball players, since the sports are similar -- that Canada has a national women's cricket team. It has existed since 2006.

Interested players can contact Codrington by email at gcodring@gmail.com.

Chandra Gocool, Cricket Canada's CEO, recognized the growing importance of women's cricket and Canada's women's team.

"Over the past few years we have stepped up our commitment to the women's program and we have seen marked improvement at the highest levels," Gocool said. "We are excited to see more and more women participating in cricket across the country in recent years. It's a positive sign for the future of the women's teams."

That's why it was so disappointing this week when the Canadian women lost twice to the U.S. in a three-game series at Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City, north of Toronto. The third game, which now means nothing but pride, is played Friday at 10:30 a.m., with another exhibition game Saturday. The U.S. will go on to represent the Americas in the Global World Cup qualifier to be held in 2012 in Bangladesh, ahead of the 2013 Women's World Cup in India.

"It's disappointing, but we've got to take our hats off that we were beaten by a better team," said Codrington. "This is the first time they have beaten us."

The losses mean the Canadians' World Cup dreams are over for this round. Their next competition now won't be until the next America's Cup in 2012. Mikaela's taking the losses hard.

"We're not going down three-nil (in this series)," she vowed. "We're going to get them."

ALISON_KORN@HOTMAIL.COM


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