ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Canada v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo
Self-belief key to recovery, says Davison
March 2, 2011
If every player was as honest as Canada's John Davison, sportsmen might not be 'professional' anymore. So couched are most reactions to wins, individual performances, highs and lows, in cliché-built nothings of professionalism, they can be scripted without actually speaking to a player. And if they were as self-deprecating as Davison, then press conferences might become a popular pastime.
Davison is soon to be at an age when men start worrying about life ahead of them and buy a flash car to smooth those brows. Perhaps that's unkind on a 40-year-old but doubts, as he so candidly admits, are creeping in. He has a grand total of zero runs from two innings and nine balls faced as an opener in this World Cup. He first thinks it might be "a little bit of a lack of technique" in his case, though admittedly the ball Thisara Perera did him with at Hambantota wasn't half-bad.
"Personally for me, it's probably more a mental game," he said. "I'm 40 years old and probably have those self-doubts that do I have the ability to perform at this level? I've been hitting the ball pretty well in the nets and I just need to give myself a little time to get in. I got a good ball against Sri Lanka, I'll give hats off to the bowler there. But against Zimbabwe I had a game-plan and I wanted to hit [Ray] Price over mid-off early but probably could've given myself a few more balls to get in. I don't think it's too far away."
He was asked about tomorrow's likely team and if he had known it he would've given it. There is talk, he said, of him moving away from the new ball, as if he was a reporter reporting on his own troubles. "I'm not a 100% sure what the team is tomorrow but there is talk of me shuffling down the order…I haven't got a leg to stand on so I'll bat wherever they tell me to right now."
Canada might need Davison version 2003 to bat through positions 1-10 given the kind of form their other batsmen have been in. Their top score is Rizwan Cheema's 37 in the opening game of the group against Sri Lanka and collectively have crumbled for 122 and 123. There is genuine talent in the squad - in the young slip of a boy Nitish Kumar - and other, rougher delights in Cheema and Hiral Patel, but such is the Associate's plight. Pakistan's attack, whatever shape it takes, will not make life any easier.
"If you look at the scoreboard you'd probably say yes [the top order has been a problem]," Davison said. "I don't think necessarily the bowling has been getting us out, possibly in my own case probably a little bit of a lack of technique and a couple of younger guys lacking a bit of self-belief. If you come to watch them in the nets you'll see they've got talent. If they can clear their heads in a certain way to perform in the middle, it'll give them the best chance to being successful."
This campaign is Davison's third and "not so great compared to the others." Canada have on occasion been competitive in the past, at the very least their batting; in 2007 they made 228 and 249 against England and New Zealand respectively, performances they want to repeat. But the side is "pretty down" at the moment.
The one, admittedly small, consolation is that they are up against a side tomorrow that Associates must allow themselves to dream against. Pakistan is the ultimate Associate lottery, a game against them the day one man writes his own legend. It has happened twice at the World Cup.
"We have to have our best day and they have to have their worst day," Davison said when asked to rate the chances of an upset. "You always go into the game with some hope of winning it otherwise you don't turn up. We'll go into the ground hoping to deliver a good performance and hopefully Pakistan have a poor day which they have done in the past on many occasions.
"We haven't played them before. They're a great team and a very varied attack. For example we have our challenges in reading their spinners. One of the biggest challenges in the subcontinent is to play reverse-swing in later overs."
The bad news is they haven't got much help from their two Pakistan-origin players, Cheema and Khurram Chohan. "It's quite interesting that the two Pakistani guys are quite shy," Davison said. "It takes a lot of prodding to get a lot of information out of them. Maybe if we sit them down tonight and we prod them they might be able to give us some more information."
Against India in 2002, Hooper, Dillon, Chanderpaul and Co. gave their fans something to cheer about