Canadian cricket all-rounder Nikhil Dutta experienced the highs and lows of sport in the last month.
Thrilled to be awarded a Caribbean Premier League (CPL) contract, the euphoria was interrupted when his “No Objection Certificate” to play in the Twenty/20 league was revoked by Cricket Canada after his third game for the new St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots franchise.
The CPL clashed with the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty/20 World Cup qualifying competition in which Dutta was selected to represent Canada.
After initially expressing a desire to stay with the Patriots, Dutta said he changed his mind following a meeting with Cricket Canada’s general manager, Ingleton Liburd, who was in St. Kitts two weeks ago for his daughter’s graduation.
“Ingle told me that I should consider joining the national team and I agreed to do so,” said Dutta. “I was therefore surprised when I learned that I was replaced and that the NOC was taken away. I was shocked and disappointed because I was not allowed to continue in the CPL or go to the World Cup qualifier.”
Hard-hitting middle-order batsman Hiral Patel, whose last appearance for Canada was in the ICC World Twenty/20 qualifier in the United Arab Emirates two years ago, replaced Dutta.
Liburd, who is in the United Kingdom with the national team, didn’t respond to an e-mail to clarify the situation.
Despite the disappointment, Dutta said he’s looking forward to returning to the Canadian side.
“Once I am selected, I will be there,” he promised.
Dutta was one of two players from the Americas – Jamaican-born American wicketkeeper/batsman Steven Taylor was the other – chosen to play in the CPL, launched in 2013.
While Taylor, who chose to remain with his CPL team instead of going to Europe to represent the United States in the Twenty/20 qualifier, made his first appearance for the Barbados Tridents last Saturday in a 14-run win over host side Guyana Amazon Warriors, Dutta was in the Patriots lineup for their first three contests.
He had an outstanding Twenty/20 debut, bowling former England batsman and St. Lucia Zouks captain Kevin Pietersen for 18 and finishing with 2-32 off his allotted four overs. Introduced into the bowling attack in the seventh over, the off-spinner induced hard-hitting opener Johnson Charles to hit his third delivery in the air. Sheldon Cottrell, fielding at third man, dropped the catch.
The excitement of snaring Pietersen’s wicket was short-lived as Dutta faced Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard in the next two matches. Gayle, who smashed an unbeaten 72 off 54 balls, is the leading scorer in this form of the game in 10 years with 8,194 runs (as of July 19) while Pollard – who slammed 82 off 58 balls – struck six sixes in a warm-up game last December ahead of the T20 Big Bash league in Australia.
“These guys are definitely not easy to bowl to,” said Dutta, who was ‘wicketless’ in the matches against the Jamaica Tallawahs and Tridents captained by Gayle and Pollard respectively. “What I learned is that when you are bowling to the best players in the world in Twenty/20 cricket, you can’t miss your mark against them because you will be hit hard and far. Knowing where you want to bowl and executing that plan precisely are crucial in this version of the game. There is absolutely no room for error.”
A Ryerson University student, Dutta said he was assured by the Patriots that the door is open for his return next season.