The message was clear and painful when Sunil Dhaniram’s phone calls to senior selection committee chair Chris James and Cricket Canada’s first vice-president and High Performance Manager Ravin Moorthy were not returned.
Dhaniram, who turns 42 in October, wanted to know why he was left out of the national side to face Ireland in a four-day Intercontinental Cup fixture, starting on August 31.
The only other Cricket Canada official he had telephoned, second vice-president Vimal Hardat, returned his call and informed the veteran all-rounder that he was no longer in the selectors plans for the World Cup.
“That was very hard to swallow and I was very shocked and depressed,” Dhaniram told Share this week. “It reached the point where I had to sit down with my wife and she assured me that everything would be fine despite the shabby treatment. It’s hard to understand how I am not in their plans now when the World Cup is just months away. I have given a lot to Canadian cricket in the past decade and I felt as if I deserved to be treated better. Anyhow that’s that and it’s over.”
Dhaniram said he’s now officially retired from the sport.
“I played a match for Cavaliers in the Elite division two weeks ago and I told the guys after the contest that that was my final game,” he said. “The sport has been good to me and I have had a good run. Now it’s time to spend more quality time with my wife and infant girl.”
He made his last appearance for Canada last month in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League Division One series in The Netherlands.
“I got an inkling that something was not right when I was dropped after the third match,” Dhaniram said. “We were already out of the tournament and I was told by the coach (Pubudu Dassanayake) they wanted to look at some younger players. I thought I might have been considered for the fifth-place play-off match and when I mentioned it to the coach, his reply was, ‘Did you want to play’?”
Dhaniram feels he can still make a valuable contribution in the four-day game. In four matches in 2009-10, he compiled 364 runs (av. 45.50), including centuries – 144 against The Netherlands and 130 against Afghanistan – in his last first-class game in February.
Former national cricket administrator Errol Townshend says Cricket Canada is making a big mistake by omitting Dhaniram.
“It’s total madness,” he said. “His batting and bowling are tremendous assets to the team and he’s an outstanding all-rounder. Canada has been totally disappointing in the past year and to exclude an experienced player like him just before the World Cup is insane.”
A useful middle order batsman and effective orthodox spinner, the left-handed Dhaniram played for Guyana in the early 1980s before migrating to Canada. He made his national debut in 2004 and was Canada’s leading batsman and most productive bowler in the last World Cup in the West Indies in 2007. He averaged 81 in three matches and took four wickets, including the prize scalp of then world top-ranked One-Day International batsman Kevin Pietersen of England who he deceived with a slower delivery that resulted in the bowler gleefully accepting the sharp return catch.
He was selected in Cricinfo’s Best 11 from the Associate countries to have shone brightly in the Caribbean World Cup.
Dhaniram captained Canada in Intercontinental Cup match games against Kenya and Namibia in October 2007 when regular skipper Ashish Bagai was ruled out because of work commitments.
“He’s obviously coming to the end of his career,” said Bagai. “For me though, it’s about performance and if he keeps performing, I would like to see him in the side.”
Overall, Dhaniram scored 915 runs (av. 24.72) and claimed 41 wickets (av. 30.24) in 44 One-Day Internationals and 1421 runs (av. 34.65) and picked up 38 wickets (27.78) in 31 first-class contests.
Dhaniram was a member of a Toronto & District Cricket Association championship team for the first time in 17 years in 2008 when Cavaliers captured the Elite crown. He was with Cavaliers and Vikings teams that suffered heart-breaking losses to Yorkshire in 2006 and Centurions the previous year.