Baby-faced Nitish Kumar will be the youngest player at the upcoming cricket World Cup and he will make history if he’s selected.
Bangladeshi medium-pacer Talha Jubair was 17 years and 70 days when he made his World Cup debut in 2003. Four months shy of his 17th birthday, Kumar was still in diapers when Ricky Ponting and Muttiah Muralitharan competed in their first World Cup in 1996, the last time the event was held in the Indian sub-continent.
The promising young Canadian batsman, who survived a horrific car accident in England in 2005 that claimed his father’s life, wasn’t even conceived when 37-year-old Sachin Tendulkar made his World Cup debut four years earlier in Australia & New Zealand.
Kumar will be at this year’s tournament with the three stars and could face off-spinner Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in both Test cricket and One-day Internationals and chase balls slapped around by Ponting since Canada is in the same group with Sri Lanka and Australia.
He’s the youngest player to represent Canada in a first-class match and the second youngest One-Day International player at 15 years and 253 days when he appeared against Afghanistan last February.
Pakistani Hasan Raza debuted at 14 years and 237 days against Zimbabwe in October 1996.
Skipper Ashish Bagai, former captain John Davison and medium pacer Henry Osinde are the only players with World Cup experience named in the touring squad. Bagai and Davison will be making their third appearance while Osinde played in the last event in the Caribbean.
Wicketkeeper/batsman Hamza Tariq has been named as cover for middle-order batsman Tyson Gordon who is yet to receive his Canadian passport. Tariq along with fellow Pakistani-born players Khurram Chohan and Rizwan Cheema have not acquired their India entry visas.
The full squad is Ashish Bagai (capt.), Rizwan Cheema (vice-capt.), Harvir Baidwan, Khurram Chohan, John Davison, Parth Desai, Tyson Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Amabhir Hansra, Nitish Kumar, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Balaji Rao, Zubin Surkari, Hamza Tariq and Karl Whatham.
Medium-pacer and useful lower order batsman Umar Bhatti failed a fitness test. He suffered a knee injury last November while preparing for the training camp in India.
Former Sri Lanka players Pubudu Dassanayake and Chandika Hathurusingha are the head coach and assistant coach respectively.
Appointed in 2009 as an understudy to Sri Lanka’s coach Trevor Bayliss and his assistant Stuart Law, Hathurusingha was suspended last June by Sri Lanka Cricket for disciplinary reasons. He packed his bags late last year and moved to Australia with his family.
“Chandika comes highly recommended having worked with us when we were there last year,” said Cricket Canada’s first vice-president and High Performance manager Ravin Moorthy.
Hathurusingha, an all-rounder who played in 26 Tests and 35 One-day Internationals, joins the national squad in Dubai this week.