As the national senior team prepares to head to Europe for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty/20 World Cup qualifying tournament, Cricket Canada is facing a dilemma.
Talented all-rounder Nikhil Dutta is with Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchise St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots taking part in the region’s Twenty/20 series, which ends on July 26, the same day that the ICC qualifying tournament concludes.
He was selected in the national squad that leaves today for the tournament starting on July 9.
Cricket Canada’s general manager, Ingleton Liburd, has been exchanging e-mails pertaining to Dutta with the St. Kitts & Nevis team management. While in St. Kitts next week for his daughter’s graduation, he will meet with them in an attempt to sort out the quandary.
“The qualifying tournament is important and we would like to have Nikhil there because he is one of our best players,” said Trinidadian-born Liburd, who was raised in St. Kitts. “We would really like to see him get the CPL experience, but it’s unfortunate that the two tournaments clash. We are willing to have him stay with the Caribbean franchise until just before the qualifying tournament starts and then join the side in time for the first match on July against Kenya in Edinburgh.”
Dutta impressed on his Twenty/20 debut with the St. Kitts & Nevis franchise last week, picking up two wickets – including former England batsman Kevin Pietersen who he bowled for 18 – in his team’s seven-wicket loss to the St. Lucia Zouks.
Liburd will fly from St. Kitts to Europe to assist the national team’s technical staff with the squad’s final preparation.
“I am going to take off my administrative hat because this is an important competition for us,” said the former Canadian opening batsman, who was the head coach for six years at the Len Harris Cricket Academy in St. Kitts and a West Indies Cricket Board development officer for two years up until 2005.
Guyanese-born medium pacer, Jeremy Gordon, who with Harvir Baidwan was Canada’s top wicket takers with 11 in the last Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in November 2013, has been recalled to the squad after a prolonged absence.
Because of work commitments, the 28-year-old – who took a hat-trick in an Intercontinental Cup four-day match against the UAE at King City in August 2013 – hasn’t played for Canada since the World Cup qualifier in New Zealand in January 2014.
“It’s good to have him back because he’s our quickest bowler,” said Liburd, who was among the first batch of Cricket Canada’s Hall of Fame inductees last year. “He made his first-class debut eight years ago and he has some experience that should be helpful at this level.”
The rest of the touring party is Rizwan Cheema (capt.), Saad Bin Zafar, Khurram Chohan, Navneet Dhaliwal, Satsimranjit Dhindsa, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Amarbir “Jimmy” Hansra, Shaheed Keshvani, Nitish Kumar, Cecil Pervez, Junaid Siddiqui, Hamza Tariq and Srimantha Wijeyeratne.
Wijay Senathirajah and Mukesh Narula are the manager and coach, respectively.
The national side is among 14 teams in the World Twenty/20 qualifier in Ireland and Scotland.
The contestants have been split into two groups.
Canada is in the same cluster with Afghanistan, the UAE, the Netherlands, Scotland, Kenya and Oman. The other group comprises Ireland, Nepal, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Namibia and Jersey.
The national team will play warm-up matches on July 6 against a team to be announced and Namibia the following day in Edinburgh prior to its opening qualifier against the Kenyans. Canada meets Oman on July 12, the UAE two days later, Scotland on July 16 and Afghanistan on July 18.
The top six associate qualifiers will join the 10 full members in the sixth World Twenty/20 competition from March 11 to April, 3, 2016 in India.