Davison returns to Canada for Twenty20 challenge
John Davison admits he's still regularly quizzed about "that innings" but is now focused on making a smooth introduction to cricket's hottest craze to inspire Canada to next year's World Twenty20 in England.
After an absence of more than 14 months, Davison, an allrounder, is back in the Canadian side for the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Belfast in the hope that he can produce more of the form that saw him hit the then-fastest World Cup century - off 67 balls - against West Indies at Centurion Park in 2003. He followed that up in the 2007 World Cup with the tournament's third-fastest half-century - 23 balls - against New Zealand in St Lucia.
"I haven't played Twenty20 cricket before so it's all new to me," the 38-year-old Davison said. "It should suit my style of play if I keep it in check and don't go over the top."
Davison flew to Northern Ireland from Brisbane where he has worked since April as a bowling coach at Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence. He says he hasn't played much cricket apart from sending down his off-spinners to the academy's recruits in the nets.
Canada have recalled the enigmatic Davison after disappointing defeats against Bermuda in the ODI series and the Intercontinental Cup last month. He had clashed with the selectors last year but changes at the top in Canadian cricket have opened the doors for the former captain. "I hadn't officially retired ... I just wasn't getting picked," he said. "I had a few run-ins with a couple of selectors when I was captain and it was probably easier to leave me out."
Davison has been playing club cricket for Mosman in the Sydney competition and last season had brothers Brett and Shane Lee as team-mates. But he had never lost the hunger for an international comeback and a chance to replicate his feats against West Indies five years ago. His 111 off 76 balls, in contrast to his moderate record in first-class cricket as a bowling allrounder in Australia's Pura Cup, was described by Windies legend and then chairman of selectors Viv Richards as "magnificent".
"A lot of people saw that innings and some of the younger guys I'm coaching ask me about it," Davison said. "When I was in first-class cricket, my job was to bat between No. 8 and No. 11 and hold up an end. It was against my religion [to hit out]. The opportunity to open the batting and play under no pressure on a big stage, just for fun, was fantastic."
Earlier in his career, Davison was a promising Australian Institute of Sport colleague of Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath and played in the same Melbourne club side as Shane Warne. He was born in British Columbia but left as a five-week old baby. His parents had emigrated to Canada where they lived for six years, working as teachers at Woss Lake on Vancouver Island. Unlike the period leading up to the 2003 World Cup where he spent several summers playing in Canadian club cricket, Davison now rarely goes back to the nation of his birth. But he believes that Canadian cricket is now finally heading in the right direction and would one day consider working there as a senior coach.
"As cricket is now a national sport, they are starting to get federal money and corporate funding," he said. "If they get the right structure in place, get organised and get the right people in, I'd be interested."
In the meantime, Davison is hoping to produce some Twenty20 performances in Belfast that will enhance his reputation as one of cricket's unlikely entertainers. And, for sure, he'll never doubt again if he belongs at the top level of the game.
"I remember I was apprehensive going into the World Cup until I ran into Warne in Johannesburg. He told me that he'd just written an article about six players to watch and I was one of them. It meant a lot to hear that from someone like him."
Jason Dasey is a host of Cricinfo SportsCenter and two international editions of SportsCenter on ESPN