By RON FANFAIR
Two newcomers have been named to the senior Canadian cricket squad selected for One-Day Internationals and two four-day contests in Scotland and The Netherlands next month.
Former Under-19 all-rounder Shaheed Keshvani welcomed his inclusion with a century for Toronto Cricket Club against Popeye Cricket Club in a Toronto & District Cricket Association (TDCA) Elite league fixture last Saturday while his club mate Zahir Zameer replaces Balaji Rao who is unavailable for the tour because of work commitments.
Keshvani, who represented Vikings before transferring to Toronto Cricket Club four years ago, has picked up 39 wickets with his off-spin in 2006 and 2007 while Sri-Lanka born Zameer has captured 150 wickets with his leg spin in the last seven seasons.
“When Balaji announced he would not be able to make the trip, we looked around at who were the best wrist spinners available and came up with Zahir,” said national coach Pubudu Dassanayake. “He’s very experienced and we hope he can adequately fill the void, particularly in the four-day games. Shaheed, on the other hand, is a young player who is being given an opportunity to show that he can play at the international level. He’s also an outstanding fielder.
“We were looking to use this tour to give some young players experience. However, this is not possible as the upcoming Americas Under-19 tournament clashes with the European tour.”
England-based wicketkeeper-batsman Ashish Bagai will captain the side in the one-day games for which he’s available while medium pacer Umar Bhatti, who is currently playing minor league cricket in England, will lead the team in the game’s longer version.
Bhatti captained Canada in last year’s Americas Cup series in Florida.
“Umar did a reasonable job there,” said Dassanayake. “He has leadership qualities but he still needs to improve his knowledge of the game. Also, he and Sunil (Dhaniram) are the most experienced players on the team.”
Former Canadian captain John Davison and middle-order batsman Ian Billcliff are also unavailable for the tour. Davison is a coach with Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Brisbane headed by ex-Australian captain Greg Chappell.
“John is contracted to the centre and unable to be with us next month,” said manager Mike Henry. “He has indicated, however, that he’s committed to Canadian cricket and hopes to represent this country at the 2011 World Cup.”
The national squad leaves on June 28 for Aberdeen where they will oppose Scotland in a four-day Intercontinental Cup match July 2-5 and two ODIs on July 7 and 8. Canada will then travel to Amsterdam to meet the Dutch in two one-day matches on July 11 and 12 and a four-day contest July 15-18.
The touring party comprises Ashish Bagai, Umar Bhatti, Qaiser Ali, Harvir Baidwan, Geoffrey Barnett, Trevin Bastiampillai, Rizwan Cheema, Khurram Chohan, Sunil Dhaniram, Sandeep Jyoti, Shaheed Keshvani, Ashif Mulla, Henry Osinde, Abdool Samad and Zahir Zameer.
The junior squad that will take part in next month’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas Under-19 series at King City was also selected last week. Canada will host Argentina, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and defending champions the United States in that tournament, which runs from July 5 to 12. The top two teams will advance to the global qualifier being held in the Greater Toronto Area in September.
The squad is Rustum Bhatti (capt.), Hiral Patel, Manny Aulaka, Darius D’Souza, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Abishek Krishnamoorthy, Nitesh Kumar, Usman Limbada, Zain Mahmood, Asif Manjra, Riyazkhan Pathan, Arsalan Qadir, Harpeet Singh and Hamza Tariq.
Wilbert Plummer and Farouk Kirmani are the head coach and assistant coach respectively.