Canada’s national cricket team is in Barbados for a series of six Twenty/20 matches.
The squad, which left yesterday, will play two games each against the Barbados senior side, a Bajan Under-25 unit and the Combined Campuses & Colleges.
The Barbados Cricket Association stepped in to host the national side after a scheduled one-month tour of India was postponed because two of Canada’s Pakistani-born players – Popeyes Cricket Club leg-spinner, Junaid Siddique, and Calgary middle-order batsman, Abdul Sattar – failed to secure their visas in time for the trip.
“They have never been to India before, so it takes some time to process their travel documents to enter that country,” said Cricket Canada’s first vice-president, Ravin Moorthy. “The guys have been practicing as a squad and we did not want to make the trip without them. The idea was that the whole squad would go.”
Moorthy said Canada will tour India next year to prepare for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in the United Arab Emirates March 13-24.
The Barbados visit will provide new coach Michael Dighton with his first opportunity to see the players execute some of the things he has been working with them on in the last few weeks that are pivotal in Twenty/20 cricket which is what Canada will be playing for the next four months.
“Obviously, I have not seen many of the players in a match setting, but the focus is going to revolve around the Twenty/20 format,” said Dighton, who replaced former Sri Lanka and Canada player/coach, Pubudu Dassanayake, who is now Nepal’s coach.
“For the batsmen, that means running hard between the wicket, revolving the strike as much as possible and scoring frequently. The bowlers have been working on variety which translates into not allowing batsmen to get into a rhythm. Of course, fitness is optimal in this short form of the game so we have been doing a lot of running outdoors. The players have been receptive to my training methods and we are just rearing to get outdoors in the hot sun and play some cricket.”
Former New South Wales high performance cricket manager, David Patterson, has been assisting Dighton with the fast bowlers. Patterson, who is married to a Canadian, moved to the Greater Toronto Area last summer.
“His experience and knowledge in that area is extremely healthy,” Dighton said. “He has had a lot of involvement with New South Wales’ young and upcoming fast bowlers, some of whom have gone on to represent Australia. He has been fantastic around the group and the bowlers really appreciate having him around.”
The national touring party to Barbados comprises Rizwan Cheema, Usman Limbada, Nitish Kumar, Jimmy Hansra, Hiral Patel, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Abdul Sattar, Durand Sorraine, Zamal Khan, Khurram Chohan, Harvir Baidwan, Maninderjit “Manny” Aluakh, Jeremy Gordon, Henry Osinde, Junaid Siddique, Tyron Roberts, Abzal Deana and Hamza Tariq. Johnny Bujan is the coach.
The squad returns on December 15.
The Canadian junior team is, meanwhile, preparing for the inaugural Americas Under-17 tournament in Florida from April 1 to 8.
“We are in the process of phasing out the regional Under-15 competition because we have found that a considerable amount of money is being spent here and the players moving through to make their national were minimal and do not support the cost being incurred to put on an Americas tournament in that age category,” said ICC Americas region manager, Martin Vieira.
“There is going to be an Under-15 camp each year and the best players obviously will start at the Under-17 level which will be a feeder for the Under-19 level.”
Cricket Canada’s development officer, Ingleton Liburd, and national youth coach, Wilbert Plummer, have been conducting coaching sessions with 40 players from the Greater Toronto Area. The squad will be trimmed to 20 next week.
Liburd said coaches in the other provinces will identify players to be considered for national team selection.