By RON FANFAIR
Cricket Canada has accepted a West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) invitation to participate in the inaugural regional Twenty/20 tournament next month.
The governing body for the sport in Canada received the invite two weeks ago to join Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, the Leeward Islands, the Windwards Islands and the Combined Campuses & Colleges.
The decision to participate was made last Friday following a conference call among Cricket Canada’s executive board.
High Performance Manager and first vice-president Ravin Moorthy said the decision was unanimous.
“We wanted to get as much details as possible about the tournament and once we were comfortable with what was presented, we chose to seize the opportunity,” said Moorthy. “We are in the process of working with a few people to get sponsorship to cover travel, accommodation and player allowance costs.”
Barbados will host the first eight games from July 22-25 while the remaining eight will take place in Trinidad from July 28-31.
“This is an opportunity to get our senior cricketers playing at a higher level,” said Cricket Canada’s chief executive officer Chandra Gocool. “Heading to the World Cup, we want to get as much good cricket for our team as possible.”
The national team which returned from Bermuda early last week after regaining the Americas championships and finishing runner-up in a Twenty/20 competition, is preparing for the World Cricket League (WCL) Division One series in the Netherlands from June 29-July 9.
Ashish Bagai, who has been bothered by a knee injury in the past year, returns to lead the side while New Zealand-based players Ian Billcliff and Geoff Barnett are back in the squad.
“Ian and Geoff have a little bit of flexibility when it comes to getting time-off and we are using them in this tournament,” Moorthy said. “We want to put our best forward in the WCL and keep the momentum going after a successful Americas Cup competition.”
Former Canadian captain John Davison is unavailable for the series.
The rest of the national squad is Rizwan Cheema (vice-captain), Harvir Baidwan, Umar Bhatti, Khurram Chohan, Parth Desai, Sunil Dhaniram, Jimmy Hansra, Calvert Hooper, Sandeep Jyoti, Nitish Kumar, Hiral Patel and Zubin Surkari.
At home this summer, Canada will oppose a Zimbabwe XI from August 21-24 and Ireland from September 1-4 in Intercontinental Cup contests.
The fixture against the Irish will take place at Toronto Cricket Club while the venue for the Zimbabwe match is yet to be determined.
“We have signed an agreement with Toronto for the one game but we can’t do both there because of the cost factor,” said Gocool. “It’s important that we have a good relationship with Toronto because they have one of the two International Cricket Council-accredited One-Day International (ODI) facilities in Canada.”
The other accredited venue, Maple Leaf ground in King City, is experiencing severe cash flow problems and other issues that could affect its ability to stage the fixture.
Meanwhile, Cricket Canada is seeking sponsorship opportunities to – among other things — enhance the national team’s preparation for next year’s World Cup that’s being jointly staged by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The organization has been unable to land a major deal since Scotiabank terminated its sponsorship late last year. In 2008, the bank signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Cricket Canada worth $650,000.
A few months ago, Cricket Canada contracted former Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) acting director of Marketing and Customer Insight Carl Shankland to handle its commercial operations.
“Part of his responsibilities is to develop a strategy for sponsorship and take it to the marketplace,” added Gocool.