Four years ago, Canada was preparing for cricket’s 10th World Cup jointly hosted by India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It was this country’s third straight appearance in the game’s showpiece event and its fourth since the limited-overs tournament started 40 years ago.
As the 10 Test-playing nations, along with Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates wrap up their preparation for the quadrennial tournament starting on February 13, Canada is on the outside licking its wounds after being relegated to the International Cricket Council (ICC) Division Three competition in 2017.
Canada finished last in the six-team Division Two tournament that concluded in Namibia last Saturday. In the fifth-place contest, the national side fell to Uganda – which was also relegated to Division Three – by eight wickets with 9.3 overs remaining. It was sweet revenge for the Ugandans, who suffered a humiliating 111-run loss to the Canadians two days earlier.
“This is really, really disappointing,” said Cricket Canada’s general manager, Ingleton Liburd. “The least I had expected is that we would finish in the top four and remain in Division Two. To be relegated is upsetting.”
A 67-run victory over Kenya, which will remain in Division Two with Nepal, and a brilliant century – the only one in the competition – by opener Nitish Kumar were Canada’s only highlights.
The youngest player to debut for Canada in a first-class match, the 21-year-old stylish right-handed batsman scored 104 off 106 balls with a six and 10 boundaries in the win against Uganda. He was the tournament’s ninth leading scorer with 183 runs at an average of 30.50.
Veteran all-rounder Rizwan Cheema had the second highest strike rate of 121.23 in six matches with an aggregate of 137 runs (av. 22.83).
The leading Canadian wicket-taker was left-arm orthodox spinner Parth Desai with nine (av. 18.55).
With losses to the Netherlands by 67 runs, Nepal by seven wickets and Namibia by eight wickets, Canada will join Uganda, Malaysia and Singapore and the top two teams in next year’s World Cricket League (WCL) Division Four competition in the 2017 event, to be played at a venue to be decided.
Meanwhile, Division Two winners the Netherlands and runner-up Namibia have advanced to the 2015-17 Intercontinental Cup first-class competition and WCL championships. The other qualifiers are Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea.
The winner will play four five-day matches – two at home and two on the road – against the bottom ranked Test nation in the inaugural ICC Test Challenge in 2018.