By RON FANFAIR
Canada is well on its way to securing a spot in next year’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Youth World Cup finals in New Zealand.
Coach Wilbert Plummer, however, is not happy with the way his Under-19 squad has performed at home in the nine-team, two-week global qualifier for Associate and Affiliate countries.
Canada has a 4-2 record after losing to Papua New Guinea and Ireland by 44 runs and 29 runs respectively. The national side disposed of Uganda by 44 runs, the Netherlands by 77 runs, Hong Kong by 57 runs and Sierra Leone – which failed to show up in Canada before the expiry of the ICC September 5 deadline – by a walkover.
Sierra Leone experienced visa problems following concerns that some of their players might not return home at the end of the competition.
All-rounder Hiral Patel has been outstanding with the ball, taking 11 wickets (av. 14.90) with his slow left-arm orthodox spin and he leads the batsmen with a mediocre 25.20 average.
“Our batsmen have let us down so far,” said Plummer. “They are too talented of a bunch to have done so poorly up to this point. Some of them are getting starts and looking good during their short stay, but they are simply not carrying on. What we have seen from them so far is not indicative of the way they can play. I know that and they are also aware of that. They have three more games to show us what they can do.”
Plummer, who graduated from Jamaica’s C.G. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport before migrating to Canada in 1991, feels that some of his players were lulled into a false sense of achievement after facing some weak teams in the Americas Cup series which the national side won. The tournament, which also involved the United States, Bermuda, Argentina, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, was played at King City last July.
“To be honest, the Americans and Bermuda were the only two teams that were on par with Canada,” said Plummer. “It seems as if a few of our guys have not figured that out as yet and are treating some of the competition in this qualifier, which is much stronger, in the same way they dealt with weaker sides in the Americas competition.”
Canada plays winless Vanuatu today before going up against the United States tomorrow and Afghanistan on Sunday. Canada along with the U.S, Afghanistan, Ireland, Papua New Guinea and The Netherlands are the six teams that are expected to qualify and join the ICC’s 10 Test-playing nations.
A sixth spot opened up for a team in this series to advance to the youth World Cup after Kenya, Africa’s leading Associate side, was barred from the competition after the ICC controversially withdrew the East African country rights to host next year’s finals and moved it to New Zealand.
The tournament will be held January 16-30.