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May 17, 2007
Lost baggage, missed flights, rain and a lack of preparation. No, that's not a hark back to the recent World Cup, but the latest set of problems to affect Canada's preparations for their Intercontinental Cup final next week.
They're due to face Ireland next Tuesday in the four-day match at Grace Road, but in some ways they couldn't be less prepared. It's not for a lack of enthusiasm or willing, but some of the team - Naresh Patel and Trevin Bastiampillai - haven't played cricket since last summer. Even those who have played in Canada's most recent game haven't had international cricket for nearly two months; the last match, in the World Cup, was March 22.
Patel and Qaiser Ali, who are based in Montreal, have little exposure to decent practice facilities. But at least they made it. Having missed a connecting flight, they only arrived in England today and had to rush straight to Loughborough Town CC where they were due to face an England Select XI in a two-day game.
Thursday's play was washed out completely, and with little drainage at the club ground and more bad weather on the way, it's unlikely there will be any play on Friday, either. They made do with indoor practice at the Loughborough Academy - and, as their coach Andy Pick noted, "it was like coming out of a cocoon for some, like coming out of hibernation." Assuming they don't play on, this will leave the players with one practice day in Leicestershire on Monday.
Pick said he wanted to be tested when he took on the role a year ago, and he certainly has been. "There have been a number of challenges," he said, taking the latest calamities in his stride with typical good humour. And they don't end there, either.
To cap everything off, two other players, Geoff Barnett and John Davison, have travelled independently from New Zealand and Australia - but their kit has been lost by British Airways. They are hopeful of recovering it in time for the match, but otherwise new clothing will have to be found.
Ireland remain the favourites. Even without Niall O'Brien and Boyd Rankin, who have been retained by their counties, and even after losing five one-day matches on the bounce recently, they have at least played together. And they are very strong in four-day cricket, too, and are the defending champions.
But with all the problems Canada have faced, getting to Grace Road will at least be a good start.
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