By RON FANFAIR
The national cricket team for the upcoming World Cup is expected to be announced this weekend.
Canada and the rest of the participants had until January 19 to submit their final 15-member squad for the tournament that starts next month.
Cricket Canada was hopeful that Pakistani-born players Khurram Chohan, Rizwan Cheema, Hamza Tariq and Umar Bhatti would acquire entry visas this week to enter India.
The governing body for the sport in Canada applied for the visas the same time it did for the rest of the players who took part in a training camp in India last November.
“We got back all the visas with the exception of those for the Pakistani-born players within a matter of days of putting in the application,” said Cricket Canada’s chief executive officer Chandra Gocool. “We don’t know why those were not processed at the same time even though we are in receipt of a letter from India’s Minister of External Affairs (S.M. Krishna) sent to overseas missions asking them to expedite entry visas for all World Cup participants.”
Gocool said Cricket Canada received an e-mail from the International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier in the week assuring them the players will receive the visas in time for the World Cup.
“We were not getting any responses from the Indian High Commission and that’s why we turned to the ICC for help,” Gocool said. “At this time, we don’t want to speculate on the reasons for the delay as it pertains to the Pakistanis who have Canadian passports. We just want to get past this hurdle so that Canada will be able to field its best squad at the World Cup.”
Jamaica-born middle-order batsman Tyson Gordon also hopes to get good news this week. He will not be at the World Cup if he does not receive his Canadian passport through special exemption by tomorrow.
Cricket Canada’s first vice-president Ravin Moorthy is optimistic that Gordon will receive the passport he applied for last December 3 when he became eligible.
“We think we have made a strong case for him and we are hopeful that he will receive his travel document,” said Moorthy who is also Cricket Canada’s High Performance Manager. “Tyson is a valuable member of our squad and we would love to have him in the touring party.”
Gordon contributed to Canada’s 23-run victory over English county side Hampshire in the Caribbean Twenty/20 tournament in Antigua last week, scoring 18 in his team’s total of 129-7 off its allotted 20 overs. Cheema and left-handed opener Ruvindu Gunasekera were the other principal scorers with 31 off 23 balls and 29 off 26 balls respectively.
Hampshire, which beat Somerset in last year’s Friends Provident English Twenty/20 competition, was restricted to 106-8 in its 20 overs.
Medium-pacer Cheema and left-arm spinner Parth Desai, who won the Man-of-the-Match award, combined to claim four wickets for 42 runs off their eight overs.
Canada lost its second match, succumbing to Trinidad & Tobago by five wickets in an exciting contest in which the twin-island republic achieved victory off the last ball.
Zubin Surkari with 42 off 49 balls and Gunasekera with 39 off 40 balls put on 66 in 10 overs to help their team reach 128-5.
T & T replied with 129-5 off its 20 overs.