By RON FANFAIR
Disposing of International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Full Member Zimbabwe and making amends for a loss to Papua New Guinea in the Greater Toronto Area last September highlighted Canada’s participation in the just concluded Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand where the national side achieved its best finish ever in the biennial competition.
Canada defeated Papua New Guinea by two wickets with five balls to spare to avenge a 52-run loss in the World Cup qualifier four months ago and secure the 11th spot in the 16-team tournament.
“This was the best showing by a Canadian team at this tournament and we reached the semi-final of the plate round,” said national coach Wilbert Plummer. “The boys should be proud of that. My expectations were, however, a bit higher and our batsmen really did not perform to their full potential. The wickets were hard, but the ball moved around early in the morning in overcast conditions.
“The problem with our batsmen though was they did not apply themselves. Too many of them lost their wickets going for big shots instead of trying to build an innings. That was their downfall. Usman (Limbada) played on three times attempting expansive strokes.”
Limbada and all-rounder Hiral Patel were the only batsmen to surpass the 100-run mark in five matches. Limbada scored 111 (av. 27.75) and Patel 104 (av. 26). Patel, who bowls left-arm orthodox spin, was the leading wicket taker with six wickets (av. 24).
“Our bowlers were up to the task, but our fielders dropped too many catches, including five before we took the first Papua New Guinea wicket,” added Plummer. “The standard of the competition was very high and our players accredited themselves well even though I thought we could have done a little bit better.”
Manager Wijay Senathirajah agreed with Plummer.
“It was a great experience for our players to perform on a big stage,” he said. “Hopefully, most of them would have benefited from the tour.”
Share, meanwhile, has learned that medium-pacer Arsalan Qadir – whose departure for New Zealand was delayed for disciplinary reasons – was among several players who broke curfew at least once during the competition. Qadir is also accused of swearing in front of teammates and officials.
“This (swearing) is a problem that we have had with him before and it surfaced again in New Zealand,” said a team official. “As far as I am concerned, he should not have been sent to the World Cup. There are rules and regulations for players to conform to and we can’t have individuals doing things that are disrespectful.”
Limbada, Patel, all-rounder Nitish Kumar and wicketkeeper/batsman Rustum Bhatti flew to Sri Lanka to join the senior team while the rest of the squad returned home last Monday afternoon via Brisbane (three hours) and Dubai (13 hours). They spent two days in Dubai before their 15-hour flight to Toronto on Emirates Airlines which is an official ICC partner until 2015.
Australia beat Pakistan by 25 runs in the final while West Indies finished third with a four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a match that produced 585 runs for the loss of 12 wickets.
Canada will host the next youth World Cup in 2012.