Canada call up Billcliff and Barnett
Batsmen Ian Billcliff and Geoff Barnett, both based in New Zealand, have been named in Canada's 15-man World Cup squad. Barnett plays first-class cricket in New Zealand and had not been available for Canada during the winter for contractual reasons.
Thirteen of the squad from the World Cricket League series in Kenya are retained, the two unlucky players being Don Maxwell and Sandeep Jyoti. Both are allrounders.
Ashish Bagai, whose batting has flowered over the winter in South Africa and Kenya, is named as vice-captain behind skipper John Davison. Bagai was named Player of the Tournament for the World Cricket League and captained Canada to a win over Uganda in a warm-up match in Nairobi.
Andy Pick, the national coach believes it is "a fairly well balanced squad.". He felt "deeply sorry for Maxi (Don Maxwell). The makeup of the squad was likely to dictate that two players who were in Kenya would miss out. I believe this is a reflection on the strength of Canadian cricket that there are 17 or 18 players who could expect to be very close to the (World Cup) squad.
"We will have to work hard in the field in order not to give up 20-30 runs (that the better teams prevent). We will practice and work on it."
Pick hoped for at least one win "in our four appearances against Test playing nations (in the lead-up and first round of the World Cup). If you can win one of those in the group match, as well as beating Kenya, that must be our target." He does not dream of Canada winning the World Cup, but "if we get everything right on a given day against England or New Zealand, we could win. The realistic target must be to get through to the second round."
In parallel with wishes for a win over a Test-playing side, Pick said "I hope we can carry on with the progress made over the last three months." Canada went to South Africa in November with a 13-player squad that included nobody with an individual score of 50 runs in an ODI match. The 50-barrier was broken.
In Kenya, Davison returned as captain - he already had a century and a couple of fifties to his name in ODI cricket, mostly from the 2003 World Cup. Bagai scored two centuries and there were the first two century partnerships for Canada in ODI matches. The 300-run barrier was crossed in a win over Ireland, the current European champions.
This is the third time that Canada has made it to the Cricket World Cup.
Canada squad John Davison (capt), Qaiser Ali, Ashish Bagai, Geoff Barnett, Umar Bhatti, Ian Billcliff, Desmond Chumney, George Codrington, Austin Codrington, Anderson Cummins, Sunil Dhaniram, Ashif Mulla, Henry Osinde, Abdool Samad, Kevin Sandher.