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July 26, 2009
Cricket Canada has handed central contracts to six players - Harvir Baidwan, Umar Bhatti, Rizwan Cheema, Khurram Chohan, Sunil Dhaniram, and Henry Osinde - as Associate countries enter an era of professionalisation.
However Cricket Canada clarified that the national team captain Ashish Bagai had not been given a contract as reported for he remained "committed to his career in Europe and will continue to play for Canada as his schedule permits".
Bhatti said receiving the contract was a dream-come-true for him. "As a group we can focus on playing cricket without having to worry about other issues, such as going for practice after working a full day, and having to take time off work to go on tours," Bhatti said.
"Having half the team as full-time professional cricketers will not only help the standard of the national team's set up but is also helpful in terms of development of cricket across the country … players will be able to help set up and maintain programs for early development of future players."
The opening batsman, Geoff Barnett, was also offered a professional contract but turned it down, and he is also unavailable for Canada's home series against Kenya next month due to family commitments.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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