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March 23, 2007
Andy Pick, the Canada coach, said he was in awe of the commitment shown by his mainly amateur side after they bowed out of the World Cup with a 114-run defeat to New Zealand.
Although they lost all three of their matches, Canada scored over 200 in all and improved their record World Cup total, saving their best for last with 249 against New Zealand, beating their previous highest of 228 for 7 against England on Sunday.
For a team featuring a salesman, an investment banker, a telephone technician and a forklift truck-driver and just one current first-class player in opening batsman Geoff Barnett, these were notable achievements. Barnett plays for Central Districts in the New Zealand domestic circuit.
Pick, the former Nottinghamshire pace bowler, who has been on a one-year sabbatical from his post as coach of the England Under-19 team, praised the huge sacrifices the Canada players had made just to be at the World Cup.
"I'm absolutely amazed," Pick said. "I'm in awe of the commitment of the Canadian players. This winter we've been to Pretoria for two-and-a-half-weeks, to Kenya for a month and we've been here for a month.
"For players to take that sort of time off work, some without pay, some guys lose jobs or some guys give up their family holidays for the next two years or whatever it might be, for very little recompense if any."
"They deserve days like today," Pick added after Thursday's match against New Zealand. "They deserve all the credit for that because some of these guys go to work at 5am in the morning, finish at 5pm, drive for an hour-and-half, do three hours practice, go home, have something to eat, go to bed and do the same next day. And that's when it's minus 30. For the guys based in Canada it is a phenomenal effort."
Looking ahead, Pick said Canada could hold its own with the best of the associate or junior nations - the team play Ireland in the final of the four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup tournament in May.
"I see Canadian cricket competing with the other associates who have professional frameworks in place and structures that develop youth talent. At the moment, Canada hasn't got that simply because of a lack of money. If and when we get some money into Canadian cricket, there's potential for growth that there isn't in other countries."
He added that the talk of 'minnow' nations devaluing the World Cup was wide of the mark. "If the ICC are looking to expand the top group of teams, as they've done in the past with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, it's essential we play in these competitions. That's what they want to do and all credit to them."
As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history
Hundred in a session? Easy peasy for Doug Walters