By RON FANFAIR
Former Canadian captain John Davison is among three overseas-based players who have declared their availability to participate in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in the United Arab Emirates.
Davison, who last represented Canada in the ICC World Cup qualifier in South Africa last May, along with New Zealand-based batsmen Ian Billcliff and Geoff Barnett are expected to be included in the national side for the Twenty/20 qualifier to be played February 9-13.
A1993 Australia Cricket Academy graduate, Davison is the spin bowling coach with Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Brisbane. Left-handed opener Barnett is captaining Marlborough senior rep team in the Central Districts League while middle-order batsman Billcliff is playing league cricket in Auckland.
“They have confirmed they are fit and ready to play,” said national coach Pubudu Dassanayake who recently returned from coaching clinics in Pretoria, South Africa and Melbourne, Australia. “These are veteran players with experience who can certainly help us qualify for the World Cup in the Caribbean.”
The fifth-ranked Canada is in Group “B” with Kenya, The Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates while Group “A” comprises top-ranked Ireland, Scotland, Afghanistan and the United States.
The top two teams in each group will meet in the Super Four round and the winner will secure a place in next year’s World Cup in Guyana, St. Lucia and Barbados from April 30 to May 16.
The winner will join India and South Africa in Group “C” while the losing finalist will be in Group “D” with West Indies and England.
Canada, the Dutch, Kenya, Scotland, Ireland and Afghanistan qualified on the basis of their One-Day International status while the Americans and the UAE received special invitations to take part in the tournament.
“We are quite happy with our group because we have beaten the Dutch (they are ranked second) in one of the seven Twenty/20 games we have played,” said manager Mike Henry. “We have also had success against both the UAE and Kenya in other forms of the game, so we are quite confident that we can come out of the group.
“The challenge will be to beat either Ireland or Scotland, who we expect to qualify from the other group. Our boys are training hard and we know that once we come out and we give 100 per cent, we can beat any of the teams there even though four of them are ranked higher than us. In the shorter form of the game, anything can happen and there is not much room for mistakes.”
Canada has played just seven Twenty/20 Internationals – all of them between August 2 and October 13, 2008. The national team defeated the Dutch by four wickets with three balls remaining at the ICC Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in South Africa for one of its two victories – the other was against Bermuda in the same competition – in this form of the game.
The majority of national team members will head to Sri Lanka in the first week of January for a camp and Twenty/20 practice matches against Afghanistan, Ireland and Sri Lanka “A” in Colombo before proceeding to the UAE on February 5.
Following the Twenty/20 qualifier, Canada will oppose Afghanistan in a four-day Intercontinental Cup match February 17-20 in the UAE before returning home.