By RON FANFAIR
Impressed with the job he did in his first assignment at the helm of the national senior team, Jimmy Hansra has been appointed Canada’s captain for the upcoming series against Afghanistan and Trinidad & Tobago in the Greater Toronto Area.
The 26-year-old India-born all-rounder led Canada to victory in last week’s International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas Cup Division One Twenty/20 series in Florida. He replaced Ashish Bagai who stepped down after the World Cup to pursue MBA studies in the United States.
Johnny Bujan and Ingleton Liburd, who performed the roles of manager and coach respectively in Florida, will continue on an interim basis. Pubudu Dassanayake and Mike Henry resigned after the World Cup.
Medium-pacers Khurram Chohan and Harvinder Baidwan, who played league cricket in England this summer, fast bowler Henry Osinde, opener Hiral Patel and all-rounder Rizwan Cheema form the nucleus of the national side.
The five players recently signed one-year contracts with Cricket Canada.
Canada and Afghanistan are scheduled to meet in a four-day Intercontinental Cup match starting on August 2 at Maple Leaf ground in King City. The first of two One-Day Internationals featuring the two sides will take place at the same venue on August 7 with the second to be held two days later at Toronto Cricket Club which will also be the venue for two Twenty/20 contests on August 11 and 12.
The Afghan team is expected to secure their visas this week to travel to Canada.
The last time an Afghanistan cricket team toured Canada, five members defected and sought asylum following the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
Cricket Canada chief executive officer Chandra Gocool said the Afghan board was advised to begin the visa application process three months ago.
“We suggested that since they were in Pakistan at the time that they begin that process through our embassy in Islamabad,” said Gocool. “At the same time, we are working here with the Canadian government to see how we can help them.”
The Afghan junior squad received their visas to come to Canada at the last moment in 2009. Six Ugandan team members also defected after the series.
Trinidad & Tobago, which is preparing for the Champions League Twenty/20 qualifier in India, will oppose Canada and Afghanistan in a triangular series in the next two weeks. The twin-island republic’s team will also clash with Canada in two Twenty/20 matches.
Canada finished last in the 2009-10 Intercontinental Cup competition with just nine points from six matches, including five losses.
Canada will travel to Ireland in either September or October for their Round Two contest before opposing Namibia in March/April and Scotland in June/July of 2012 at home. In 2013, Canada will tackle Kenya in Africa in March/April, the United Arab Emirates in the desert in July/August and The Netherlands at home in September/October.
The winning Intercontinental Cup team will secure US$100,000 while the runner-up will get US$40,000. The second and third-place sides will receive US$20,000 and US$10,000 respectively while teams that secure outright victories in the round-robin stage will win $3,000 each.
Canada finished second in the inaugural 12-team competition in 2004 in which there were four regional groups of three teams with the winners advancing to the semi-finals. The format was adjusted after the 2005 season whereby there were two groups of four with the winners proceeding to the final. The tournament underwent another overhaul in 2007-8 with each side playing the other once in a simple league format while the last series was reversed to a single division series.