Temporary cricket pitch comes to Whitby this summer ahead of a permanent facility


Published March 30, 2022 at 11:47 am

Whitby is working to install a new temporary cricket pitch in Brooklin Memorial Park in advance of permanent accommodations in the future.

Matches will be held at Brooklin Memorial Park at 67 Winchester Road East in the centre of an existing walking and running track. A temporary pitching mat and wickets, line markings and a storage vault will be installed on site this summer.

Cricket, a bat and ball game, features two teams. One team tries to “bowl” a ball into the opposing teams three-stump wicket, while the batting team defends it and score runs around the pitch.

Video via Sikana.

The history of cricket stretches back to at least the 16th century in South England. Through centuries of British colonial expansion the sport spread throughout the empire, becoming enormously popular in India and South Asia.

In 1844, Canada won the first-ever international cricket match against the United States by 23 runs. Cricket remained a minor sport in Canada, despite the early historical win. However, it’s popularity has risen sharply as the country’s population has diversified.

Indian and other South Asian communities in particular have long advocated for a fuller embrace of the sport from their municipalities.

Cities across the GTA have embraced cricket in recent years. Oshawa recently lifted a 16-year ban on sports at Stone Street Park to allow a similar temporary pitch. Meanwhile Brampton has eyed a $35 million cricket stadium for years, with Mayor Patrick Brown advocating for the development as recently as last fall.

Ajax, with the largest South Asian community in Durham, and Mississauga have carved out room for more cricket pitches as well. Toronto has plans for five new pitches and upgrades to three more as part of their $2.2 billion Sports Master Plan.

Whitby has long debated increasing access to cricket in town, with the first formal request from the community coming in January 2020. However, the cricket season was cut short due to the then-emerging COVID-19 pandemic.

After the town lifted COVID restrictions, the 2021 season quickly ballooned in popularity. Whitby Cricket moved through several fields and permits as they required more time and space to play.

That fall, supported by reports of cricket’s popularity from MP Ryan Turnbull, Whitby decided to pursue more facilities for the sport. Turnbull told council he there were over 250 players in the Whitby Cricket Club, which limited town staff’s options for the pitches location since they needed a good deal of space.

Ultimately staff decided, the cricket pitch would call Brooklin Memorial Park home until a permanent facility is built. However, “this site as a multi-purpose property will never become a premiere level sports field,” read a report from staff.

The report highlights that Brooklin Memorial has never been maintained as a sports field and therefore requires significant work before it can host matches. Council earmarked $52,000 of Whitby’s Growth Capital Reserve Fund to finance the temporary pitch.

Staff estimates an addition $10,000 in upkeep costs annually. However this expense is partially offset by $6,700 in annual permit fees.

The report estimates Brooklin Memorial Park should be ready for play sometime between June 20 and July 4, 2022. There is no set date for completion of the permanent cricket pitch, nor has a final site been selected.

Image via Town of Whitby.

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