2007 Review - Canada December 23, 2007

Fighting against the odds

Will Luke looks at how Canada fared in 2007

Umar Bhatti celebrates his hat-trick in the Intercontinental Cup final. It was about the only cause for celebration in a wretched match © ICC
It was a mixed year for Canada both on and off the pitch. They struggled in one-day cricket with four wins out of 16 matches while in the ICC Intercontinental Cup they lost four out of five. And as they move into 2008, the lack of money continues to blight their progress.

Their performance at the World Cup was predictably dire, only ever showing glimpses of potential and competitiveness. After losing to Kenya, they took on England and made a decent stab at chasing 280 with Ashif Mulla cracking a quickfire 58. In their final match against New Zealand, John Davison - Canada's bristling opener and only batsman with the gumption and class to take on the best - smashed 52 from 31 balls in his farewell ODI.

Things didn't improve in four-day cricket either when they were humiliated by Ireland in the Intercontinental Cup final at Leicester carried over from the previous season. Their preparation was poor, blighted by lost baggage and missed flights, and lost a horribly one-sided contest inside five sessions. They struggled in subsequent matches from patchy availability and a lack of preparation as players, already struggling to take time off, often found themselves underprepared on unfamiliar surfaces.

The coach, Andy Pick, left in May and urged Canada's board to appoint his replacement quickly, to aid their path to qualifying for the next World Cup. Pubudu Dassanayake was finally chosen five months later, and he has a battle on his hands to squeeze what little money he can from a ring-fenced set-up.

New man on the block
A familiar name in Canada's youth squads, Trevin Bastiampillai is one of the next generation and in 2007 put together some useful scores. He made 71 in Canada's innings victory over UAE, adding 141 with Mulla.

Fading star
John Davison, Canada's standout batsman, played his last match in the Intercontinental Cup final rout, and two months earlier he bowed out of ODIs at the World Cup with a typically audacious 52 from 31 balls. He might yet return but, at 37, and with Canada's selectors looking to the future, it appears unlikely. They, and Canada's fans, will sorely miss him.

High point
Ashish Bagai shone in the World Cricket League in Nairobi. He scored 137 not out - his first hundred in senior cricket - against Scotland and added a second ton against Ireland four days later. His 345 runs at 86.25 meant he ended the tournament as the leading run scorer and was named Player of the Tournament. He was later shortlisted for the ICC Associate Player of the Year.

Low point
Canada's loss to Ireland in the Intercontinental Cup final summed up their year. Dismissed for 92 and 145, the only crumb of comfort they gained was the performance of Umar Bhatti who took a hat-trick (and very nearly four in four) as Ireland's first innings fell away. The news that Bagai had taken up a work position in London and was likely to largely unavailable in 2008 was another blow.

What the future holds
With the appointment of Atul Ahuja as Canada's first chief executive, hopes of the government funding Canadian cricket have increased. Like other Associates, they receive a payout from the ICC but, as Pick found out, access to the funds is limited - and this is one area that Ahuja might be able to help in his first year as chief executive. Similarly, Pubudu Dassanayake, Pick's replacement, has a tough task on his hands to improve consistency.

Canada in 2007
Matches Won Lost Drawn/NR
ODIs 16 4 12 0
Twenty20 - - - -
Intercontinental Cup 5 1 4 0

Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo