By RON FANFAIR
Most of the Canadian youth cricket team’s members preparing for next month’s youth World Cup in New Zealand have been engaged in strength and agility training indoors for the past two months.
As the tournament nears, the preparation will intensify with the squad traveling to St. Kitts next week for three practice matches and a rigorous training camp. The local players will meet the West Indies youth team, which is also preparing for the competition, in two matches on December 14 and 16 and a St. Kitts Under-23 side on December 20.
The tour runs December 11-21.
“This will be a hard camp,” predicts national youth coach, Wilbert Plummer. “We hope to get in as much work as we can under the sun every day that we are there. I can assure you there will be no off days and the players will be pushed to the limit to be ready to compete against the best in their age limit.”
Plummer said right-handed opening batsman/left-arm orthodox spinner Hiral Patel and fast bowler Maninder Aulakh, who spent the past few weeks training in Sri Lanka, and all-rounder Darius D’Souza who is attending school in England, will join the squad in St. Kitts.
“They will come back here early next week and leave with us for the Caribbean,” he said. “It’s critical that we have all our players together to be engaged in the workouts and also to build team chemistry.”
Kittitian-born Cricket Canada senior development officer Ingleton Liburd collaborated with the West Indies Cricket Board to arrange the camp and practice matches.
“The West Indies team will be on the island from December 11 to 19, so we thought it would be good if we could get our players down there to train at the same time and also meet the Caribbean cricketers in a few games,” Liburd said.
British-based fielding coach, Julien Fountain, a former English baseball player who has worked part-time with the West Indies, Pakistan and England cricket teams and who recently applied for a job with the Indian Cricket Board, and Canadian physiotherapist Candice Thomas, who has been with the youth side for the past six weeks, will also be in St. Kitts with the squad.
Canada’s youth team will spend the Christmas holiday with their families before leaving on January 2 for the International Cricket Council’s Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand.
The national side will play practice matches on January 6 and 8 in Auckland before traveling to Christchurch to meet South Africa on January 11 and Hong Kong a day later in warm-up games.
Canada begins play in the Under-19 World Cup tournament on January 15 against Zimbabwe. The national side will then oppose host country New Zealand a day later and Sri Lanka on January 18.