By RON FANFAIR
Having already automatically qualified for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in Dubai next March because it’s among one of the six Associate/Affiliate members with One-Day International status, Canada has the luxury of fielding a mainly developmental squad in the Americas Division One tournament in Florida next week.
All-rounder Jimmy Hansra from British Columbia will captain the 14-member squad comprising eight players who have never played for the national senior side. Hansra along with wicketkeeper/batsman Hamza Tariq, all-rounder Usman Limbada, middle-order batsmen Trevin Bastiampillai and Jason Sandher and left-arm spinner Zahid Hussain are the only players with experience at the senior level.
The rest of the squad are left-handed batsman Jonathan Snow who plays for Meraloma in the British Columbia Mainland Cricket League; right-arm medium pacer Waleed Ahmad from Winnipeg; Quebec opener Deepak Pabla; Mississauga Ramblers fast bowler Satsimranjit Dhindsa who took 6-15 off 10 overs in a six-wicket win over Brampton Masters last month; PCB Stallions all-rounder Cecil Pervez; Toronto Cricket Club opening batsman Khusroo Wadia and Albertans Parveen Saroye and Grant Broadhurst. Hussain, who represented Canada in the 2008 Caribbean limited-overs tournament and the subsequent Americas Cup series in Florida, is the oldest player at age 36 while Pabla, who turned 20 on July 2 is the youngest.
Former Canadian opening batsman Ingleton Liburd is the manager/coach.
Three matches will be played daily starting at 9 a.m., 1.30 p.m., and 5.30 p.m. in the Twenty/20 competition that runs July 18-23.
Canada plays its first match on the opening day against the Cayman Islands. The national side will oppose Argentina on July 19, Bermuda the following day, the United States on July 22 and Suriname the next day.
The top two teams will join Canada as the Americas qualifiers in Dubai next year.
Two months ago, the tournament was moved from the Greater Toronto Area to Florida.
“This was done because of the uncertainty of the availability of Maple Leaf ground at King City,” said ICC Americas region manager Martin Vieira. “There are also some legal proceedings surrounding the venue and we did not want to take the chance that those would not be solved on time.”
The other automatic qualifiers – Afghanistan, Ireland, Kenya, The Netherlands and Scotland – and 10 teams representing the five ICC regions will take part in the World Cup qualifier. The top two sides and the 10 full members will compete in the third Twenty/20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in September 2012.
Pakistan won the inaugural tournament in South Africa in 2007 while England clinched the 2010 title in the West Indies.
At its just concluded conference in Hong Kong, the ICC slashed the number of participants from 16 to 12 and the Associates representation from six to two. The decision represented a drastic turnaround by the ICC which announced the expansion of the World Twenty/20 to 16 teams last September.