Canada will wrap up its International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup Twenty/20 qualifier preparations at home without Australian coach Michael Dighton who is back in Tasmania waiting to secure a work permit.
The former Cricket Australia satellite coach, who took up the Canadian assignment last October, spent the Christmas holidays with his wife and two young children “Down Under” before joining the national squad in the Caribbean for the just concluded West Indies Twenty/20 competition.
He flew back to Australia from Barbados after the series.
As with any Canadian employer wishing to hire a foreign worker, Cricket Canada was required to apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) showing that there is a need for that individual to fill the position being offered and there is no Canadian worker available to do the job.
“This requirement has been fulfilled, but Michael has to apply for the work permit while he is out of the country,” said Cricket Canada’s first vice-president, Ravin Moorthy. “This process should be completed very shortly and then we will make the decision whether he should come to Canada or go straight to Southeast Asia where the national side will conclude its preparations before the Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in the United Arab Emirates from March 13 to 24. We are looking to get the boys out to either Sri Lanka or India for three weeks before the tournament starts.”
A total of 16 teams will compete for two spots in the 12-day tournament at five venues.
Canada is in Group “A” with Afghanistan, The Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark and Nepal. The other group comprises Ireland, Kenya, Scotland, Namibia, Uganda, Oman, the United States and Italy.
The national team meets the Dutch in its first match on March 13 at Dubai Sports City Stadium.
The overall winner advances to the 12-team World Cup in Sri Lanka from September 18 to October 7 while the second and third-place teams in the two groups will play cross-over matches. The two winners of those matches will progress to the preliminary final on March 23. The second qualifying final will feature the loser of the first qualifying final and the preliminary final winner to determine the second team to qualify for the World Cup.
Canada was winless in the Caribbean Twenty/20 competition which was a warm-up for the upcoming global qualifier for ICC Associate and Affiliate countries.
The national side succumbed to the Windward Islands by nine wickets with 21 balls remaining and the Leewards by eight wickets with 38 balls left in Antigua before the series shifted to Barbados where Canada lost to Guyana by eight wickets with 18 balls remaining and eventual champions Trinidad & Tobago by a similar margin with 17 balls left under the Duckworth/Lewis formula that determines the outcome of games affected by bad weather.
The middle and lower order batsmen failed to build on decent starts of 34, 36 and 43 in the last three matches and the bowlers lacked penetration. Left-handed opener Ruvindu Gunasekera was the top run-producer with 105 (av. 25.75) while medium pacer Henry Osinde took three of the seven wickets Canada picked up in four matches.
“The tour of the Caribbean was disappointing,” admitted Moorthy. “We did not get the results we were hoping for. It was, however, a good experience and good tournament that we were happy to be part of. Hopefully, the boys will carry what they learned there into the next series.”
Moorthy confirmed that former Canadian skipper, Ashish Bagai, who is pursuing an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania, will not be available before this summer. That means he will also miss Canada’s Intercontinental Cup four-day fixture in Namibia from April 5 to 8 and two One Day Internationals on April 10 and 12.
By RON FANFAIR