By RON FANFAIR
England-based wicketkeeper/batsman, Ashish Bagai, has regained the Canadian captaincy for next month’s World Cup cricket qualifier in South Africa.
Bagai, who was considered the leading candidate to replace John Davison, who was sacked after the 2007 World Cup tournament, was unable to take up the leadership post after securing a job in England’s financial sector two years ago.
Canada has used several captains since then, including all-rounders Sunil Dhaniram and Qaiser Ali, medium pacer Umar Bhatti and middle-order batsman Ian Billcliff. They are all included in the national 15-member squad attempting to steer Canada to the 2011 World Cup.
Bhatti is the vice-captain of the squad that also comprises medium pacers Henry Osinde, Eion Katchay and Harvinder Baidwan, middle-order batsmen Sandeep Jyoti and Arvind Kandappah, openers Geoffrey Barnett and Rizwan Cheema, all-rounder John Davison and leg spinner Balaji Rao.
Cheema and manager, Mike Henry, arrive in Sri Lanka today (Thursday) to join Katchay, Baidwan, Osinde, Bhatti, Ali, Jyoti, Chohan, coach Pubudu Dassanayake and video analyst Nathan Moorthy, who are already in Colombo prepping for the World Cup qualifier. They will travel to South Africa on March 21 where they will be joined by the rest of the team.
Cricket Canada president, Ben Sennik, who was in India on business over the past 10 days, stopped over in Sri Lanka yesterday to visit with the group of players who are taking part in a high performance training camp in Colombo. He will spend a few days there before returning home early next week.
Sennik will, among other things, observe the security arrangements put in place for the players. Surprise suicide attacks in Colombo two weeks ago that killed four people occurred in close proximity to the players’ hotel.
“We are very concerned about the security of our players following that event and the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan,” said Cricket Canada’s secretary, Calvin Clarke. “Despite assurances we have received, we still have to be very vigil. As was proven last week, people will do anything to achieve their objectives in spite of all the checks and marks that might be put in place.”
Canada begins the World Cup qualifier on April 1 in Bennoi against Oman before heading to Johannesburg to take on Uganda the following day. The side will then return to Bennoi to meet Namibia on April 4, Ireland on April 6 and Scotland two days later.