Making it clear that he will not be intimidated by John Davison’s threat to miss the upcoming World Cup, national selection committee chair Chris James said Canada is going ahead with its preparation for the quadrennial showpiece that starts next month.
In an e-mail to Cricket Canada, Australia-based Davison said he didn’t want to be part of the squad unless New Zealand-based players Geoff Barnett and Ian Billcliff are given reasons for their exclusion.
They were not named in the 30-man preliminary squad submitted to the International Cricket Council (ICC) on December 15.
“I am embarrassed to be selected in the squad of 30 when players who have been long-time servants have been omitted, and given no valid reason for their non-selection,” Davison wrote in the e-mail that was not copied to James. “It is with great regret that I have to withdraw my availability until these players have been given answers to some very simple questions.”
James said he’s surprised by Davison’s decision to withdraw from the squad.
“Being an overseas player does not give one the right to walk on to this team,” he said. “They should have to compete for spots like everyone else. No one should feel that they are bigger than the game. JD and Billcliff have served Canadian cricket well but, at the end of the day, we have to give our young players who have been working extremely hard an opportunity to play on the big stage.
“We still believe JD can make a contribution and that’s why he was selected. We have a spot for a spin bowler who can bat low down in the order and we felt he could fill that position for us. Cricket Canada will be contacting him shortly in response to his e-mail and it will be then up to him to decide if he wants to be part of the national side.”
James said he did not feel that Barnett should have been given an explanation for his exclusion.
“He has not been playing any cricket and he did not make an effort to come over here and train with the rest of the guys,” said James. “His performance for Canada over the years did not merit him automatic selection. As far as I am concerned, his omission should not be an issue with anyone. If he has not done much, how could he be selected?”
A left-handed batsman, Barnett is averaging 20.68 in 22 One-Day Internationals with just one half-century.
James said he’s confident that Canada will be competitive in the 10th World Cup that starts on February 19.
“At the recent camp in India, a few of our young players came of age,” he said. “Hiral Patel has grown as a player and Ruvindu (Gunasekera) is currently playing in Sri Lanka and doing extremely well. We are grateful for what our overseas players did for us in the past, but the time has come for us to move in a new direction and give our young players an opportunity.”
The national side left here yesterday for Antigua to prepare for the Caribbean Twenty/20 tournament.
Canada is in Group “B” with Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, the Leeward Islands and English club, Hampshire. The other group comprises Guyana, Jamaica, the Combined Campuses & Colleges, the Windward Islands and Somerset.
The two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals with the highest placed Caribbean side moving on to represent the region in the Airtel Champions league.
Canada plays its first match against Hampshire on January 11 in Antigua. The national side meets Trinidad & Tobago at the same venue four days later before travelling to Barbados to meet the Leeward Islands on January 19 and Barbados on January 21.
The full Canadian side is Ashish Bagai (capt.), Harvir Baidwan, Khurram Chohan, Rizwan Cheema, Parth Desai, Tyson Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Jimmy Hansra, Nitish Kumar, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Balaji Rao, Zubin Surkari, Hamza Tariq and Karl Whatham.