By RON FANFAIR
Former Jamaica middle-order batsman Tyson Gordon and all-rounder Akshay Bagai, the brother of national captain Ashish Bagai, have been included in Canada’s 22-member cricket squad named for a one-month tour of India starting late next week.
Gordon, who 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, made his Canadian debut last July in the West Indies Cricket Board Twenty/20 tournament.
The younger brother of Jamaican youth player Andre Creary, Gordon was the leading scorer for Scona in the Edmonton & District Cricket Association premier league last year. He’s also the league’s junior coordinator.
Bagai, a 32-year-old cardiologist, scored 330 runs (av. 33) and took 26 wickets (av. 14.75) with his leg-breaks for Toronto Cricket Club in the 2010 Elite Division competition.
The majority of the team is participating in a training camp in Toronto, which includes a rigorous fitness program, before leaving next Thursday for India.
Chris James, the chair of the senior national selection committee, again emphasized that a high premium is being placed on fitness.
“There is no doubt that world cricket is moving in this direction and we are no different,” he said. “We have thrown the challenge to our players to meet minimum fitness requirements as well as show us a commitment to their training in order to be on this team and they have responded.”
Canada will play nine matches during the tour.
Overseas players Ian Billcliff, John Davison and Geoff Barnett, who will join the squad midway through the tour, are expected to play in at least the five matches to be eligible for selection in the World Cup team.
“We have got all the players to a point where there is healthy competition for the World Cup team,” said coach Pubudu Dassanayake. “The matches we will play will help us determine who will go forward to the World Cup. It is clear that Canada can now boast a comprehensive mix of home grown and overseas talent that will keep us competitive at the World Cup and build a platform for the next several years.”
Canada and the other 13 World Cup participants are required to submit a 30-member provisional squad to the International Cricket Council (ICC) by December 19 and the final 15-member unit by January 19, 2011.
The full touring party is Ashish Bagai (capt.), Rizwan Cheema (vice-capt.), Maninderjit (Manny) Aulakh, Akshay Bagai, Harvir Baidwan, Geoff Barnett, Trevin Bastiampillai, Umar Bhatti, Ian Billcliff, John Davison, Parth Desai, Khurram Chohan, Tyson Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Amabhir (Jimmy) Hansra, Nitish Kumar, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Balaji Rao, Zubin Surkari, Hamza Tariq and Karl Whatham.