By RON FANFAIR
National cricket captain Ashish Bagai will miss the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Twenty/20 tournament that starts today because of injury.
For the past six months, the reliable wicketkeeper/batsman has been hobbled by patella femoral syndrome, a common knee injury among active athletes characterised by intense pain around the kneecap that increases with activities.
Bagai played through the pain in the just concluded World Cricket League (WCL) Division One series in The Netherlands.
Surgery is not an option as that can take up to a year to heal, forcing him to miss next year’s World Cup.
“It’s very painful, especially in back-to-back games,” said Bagai. “I will continue to do rehab and manage the injury until the World Cup.”
He said he and the coaching staff have explored the possibility of him playing just as a batsman.
“It’s something that we have discussed, but it throws off the balance with the team,” he said. “That’s, however, an option.”
Bagai will be married on August 1, and he plans to do some dancing even if he has to take a few painkillers.
The injury forced him to miss the Americas Cup series in Bermuda last month. Hard-hitting opener Rizwan Cheema, who captained the side in Bagai’s absence, leads the team in the Caribbean tournament.
Eighteen-year-old Hamza Tariq, who will replace Bagai behind the stumps, and Jamaican-born middle-order batsman Tyson Gordon are the only newcomers in the squad. Gordon played one match for Jamaica against the touring South Africans at Chedwin Park in May 2005, top scoring with 70 in a 29-run loss.
Gordon, the brother of Jamaican youth player Andre Creary, was the leading scorer for Scona in the Edmonton & District Cricket Association premier league last year. He’s also the league’s junior coordinator.
Vikings batsman Hemnarine Chattergoon, the brother of Guyana’s left-handed batsman, Sewnarine Chattergoon, has been recalled to the national side after a three-year absence while former Canadian captain Sunil Dhaniram has been dropped.
The team is Rizwan Cheema (capt.), Harvir Baidwan, Trevin Bastiampillai, Geoff Barnett, Umar Bhatti, Hemnarine Chattergoon, Khurram Chohan, Parth Desai, Tyson Gordon, Calvert Hooper, Usman Limbada, Hiral Patel, Zubin Surkari and Hamza Tariq.
Canada will oppose Trinidad & Tobago in the opening match of the tournament this afternoon at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
The national team meets Jamaica on Saturday at the same venue before flying to Trinidad to clash with the Leeward Islands in its final group contest on July 28 at the Queen’s Park Oval.
All of the matches start at 4 p.m.
A total of eight teams are participating in the round-robin tournament with the top two sides advancing to the semi-finals on July 30. The final takes place a day later in the twin-island republic.
The other group comprises Barbados, the Windward Islands, Guyana and the Combined Campuses & Colleges.