Aussie ready to get Canadian cricket team in shape



New Canadian cricket coach Michael Dighton has hit the ground running as he seeks to pluck the national side out of its current morass.

Just hours after arriving from Australia, he was at the Maple Leaf Cricket ground in King City last Thursday watching Ontario and British Columbia compete in a 50-overs match. The core of the national team participated in the rain-ruined contest that Ontario won by 30 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis formula that determines the outcome of games affected by bad weather.

Afghanistan and Ireland completely overwhelmed Canada in the four-day Intercontinental Cup tournament recently, winning by nine wickets and an innings and 11 runs respectively. The Irish also brushed aside the Canadians in two One-Day Internationals last month by 133 and 56 runs with the local side failing to reach the 260-run mark in both the longer and shorter version matches.

Canada is the only side without a point in the eight-team Intercontinental Cup series.

“Everyone that I have spoken to says there is some talent here and it’s going to be my job to turn that into winning games,” Dighton told Share. “Talent is going to get you so far. I am going to put a professional program in place and really work hard on the areas I believe we can control. You can always improve your fitness and fielding and while the skill sets in batting and bowling may not be up to the standard of the Full Members, there is always room for improvement.

“My aim is to get Canada doing the basics better than the opposition. Getting the fundamentals right is very important, especially in the shorter form of the game where the side that does it really well normally comes out on top. Cricket it not rocket science and I will not make it complicated as some have done. The game is still a contest between bat and ball and working within a team framework rather than putting self-interest first.”

Dighton says he plans to use some of the coaching principles he was exposed to from Tasmania coach Tim Coyle, Neil “Noddy” Holder who was Justin Langer’s batting coach, former Tasmania assistant Darrin Ramshaw and Greg Shipperd who coaches the Delhi Daredevils and Victoria Bushrangers.

“Tim is a good communicator who reads the game really well, Darrin and Neil played prominent roles in my development as a player and Greg is very thorough in his preparation,” said Dighton who also played five seasons in The Netherlands. “I have been very blessed to work with some good coaches.”

Dighton had verbally committed to coach North Hobart Cricket Club for the next two years when he spotted the opening for the coaching job in Canada last June on the International Cricket Council (ICC) website. He was The Netherlands assistant coach in the last World Cup and a Cricket Australia satellite coach.

The former opening batsman and occasional medium pacer and wicketkeeper takes over from ex-Sri Lanka and Canada wicket/keeper batsman Pubudu Dassanayake who relinquished the post after the World Cup. Cricket Canada’s Development Officer, Ingleton Liburd, filled the breach on an interim basis.

“Coming to Canada to coach is a new challenge for me,” he said. “I just completed my career as a player and I have started to do some coaching. I see this move as a natural progression as it gives me the opportunity to be a senior coach and run my own program. I have also heard so many good things about Canada and I wanted to experience some of that and also coach the cricket side.

“Next year’s Twenty/20 qualifier in Dubai is our next big series and, of course, getting to the next World Cup is going to be the main objective. We have a lot of work to do and I am up to the task.”

The 35-year-old Dighton made his first-class debut with Western Australia before moving to Tasmania 12 years ago. He recorded 4,208 runs (av. 33.93) in 71 first-class matches and 455 runs (av. 23.94) in 22 Twenty/20 contests.

“I moved to Hobart when I was 23 because I wanted to be a full-time player and Tasmania gave me that opportunity,” said Dighton, the holder of a British passport who also played for English counties Derbyshire and Hampshire. “I never looked back. They were good to me and I was very happy down there.”

The Clarence Cricket Club coach last season leaves back home his wife and two young children ages six and three.

“It’s the first time that I am going to be away from them for a long period of time and it’s going to be tough,” he said. “They will join me in the New Year and I am looking forward to settling down here.”

Dighton, whose contract with Cricket Canada extends to December 31, 2013, is the fourth Aussie to coach the national side in the past three decades following Wilf Ewens, Ray Catherall and Jeff Thomas.

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