ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Young Canada bank on experienced hands
February 12, 2011
Canada deserve to be in this World Cup. They earned their place through a daunting qualifying tournament in 2009 where they were runners-up to Ireland, and made sure that upstarts Afghanistan were kept in check. The Canadian team proved that it knew how to win in difficult circumstances and moreover showed the promise of being equipped to deal with sterner challenges. The pity is that Canada have not selected key members of that battle-hardened team that got them into this tournament.
The official line is that Canada are aiming for a quarter-final spot and that this will be Canada's best ever showing in a World Cup. It is good to have goals, but one can't help but get the feeling that the line has been crossed between healthy ambition and outright delusion. Thrusting five players from the Under-19 team into the World Cup squad was wholly unnecessary and puts a lot of pressure on the experienced players. That is not to say that the young players are not talented. One or two of them deserved to make the 15-man squad, but the rest simply aren't ready. The veteran players like John Davison and Ashish Bagai know this and will concede it in private, but they now have their game-face on and will be doing their best to keep the vibe positive and the performance respectable.
World Cup Pedigree
This will be Canada's fourth World Cup. In 2003, Canada, playing their first World Cup in 24 years, made a grand return to the tournament by beating full-member country Bangladesh. And while the team saw some awful depths too (36 all out against Sri Lanka), John Davison played one of the great knocks in World Cup history with a magical 76-ball 111 against West Indies. In 2007, Davison led a significantly stronger team to the World Cup, but the format did not allow the team to flourish, and after three quick losses it was sent packing.
Not good. In a recent Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies, Canada pulled off a comfortable win against Hampshire, before losing their next three games. A two-match ODI series at home last summer against Ireland was split at one game apiece.
Sunil Dhaniram: Canada must open the batting with Davison. He's got to be up at the top where he's been successful for Canada. Generally the batting lacks toughness and there will be pressure on Bagai in the middle-order. The young players must realise that the full-member countries will show no mercy - they will want to win early and get off the field. So Canada will need to show toughness. In the bowling, Henry Osinde is the key. He needs to see bounce in his first over and if he gets a wicket he'll be fired up for the rest of the match, but if he gets stick early on, we're done. Canada's best chance of victory lies against Kenya, but only if they can get Steve Tikolo and Thomas Odoyo out cheaply.
Where they are likely to finish
In the bottom three of Group A, if not dead last.
Canada will be a fascinating team to watch. Whoever Canada play, there will be runs and wickets galore. The Canadians are not shy about trying to play their shots and if the ball is there to be hit they go for it. In fact they will even try to hit balls that should be left well alone. Most of the batsmen are attacking in nature, but two are exceptionally good at it - and if one or both of Davison and Rizwan Cheema get set at the crease, it will be highly entertaining. The new-ball bowlers, Osinde and Khurram Chohan are only in it for wickets, and that has its own charm.
Players in Focus
Davison's return to Canada has been an unhappy one. He walked away from the team when the 30-man squad was announced, upset at the manner in which important and experienced players Ian Bilcliff and Geoff Barnett were excluded. Davison is a pro and will be focussed on the task at hand, but knowing that the team could have been stronger will no doubt irk him. Canada will depend on him for runs at a healthy strike-rate, and when he bowls he will be expected to keep things under control. His legacy as a World Cup hero is secure courtesy of his exploits in 2003 as well as scintillating half-centuries against New Zealand in that same tournament and in 2007. At 40, this is his last World Cup and he will want to leave his mark.
This tournament is important for Cheema who has endured something of a lean patch of late. He started his career in 2008 with a bang, quickly building a reputation as someone who could take on world-class bowlers and win. He loves the spotlight and is chomping at the bit to play on batting tracks against the world's best bowlers. If Cheema comes off, it will be a respectable day for Canada.
Ruvindu Gunasekera is the most promising of Canada's younger players. He deserves his spot in the World Cup team and has a taste of success having scored two solid fifties in back-to-back ODIs against Ireland at home. He will be keen to test his mettle against stronger teams, and a good showing at the tournament will cement his place in the team.
Faraz Sarwat is the cricket columnist for the Toronto Star and the author of The Cricket World Cup: History, Highlights, Facts and FiguresFeeds: Faraz Sarwat
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