When he migrated from Jamaica in 1972, Franklyn Dennis left his cricket equipment behind for a younger brother who was attending Wolmer’s at the time.
A talented right-handed batsman, Dennis represented Boys’ Town and Melbourne Cricket clubs and played in two national trial matches alongside Lawrence Rowe, Maurice Foster and Desmond Lewis who all turned out for the West Indies.
He was however unaware that cricket was played in Canada.
“That’s the honest truth,” Dennis, who was inducted into Cricket Canada’s Hall of Fame last Saturday night, said. “I brought my soccer gear because I knew there were some Jamaicans playing in the leagues across the city.”
Shortly after his arrival, Dennis met Neville Glanville – a former Jamaica midfield soccer player – who was instrumental in the development of West Indies Soccer Club which was the second best amateur team in Canada in the 1970s.
Glanville was also a member of West Indian Cricket Club (WICC) which is affiliated to the Toronto District & Cricket Association.
Joining the club in 1973, Dennis has been a major contributor as a player and coach.
After stints with Victoria Park and Commonwealth, he returned to WICC where he’s a player/coach.
At age 67, Dennis represented the club last season in the second division.
“I love the sport and I always walk with my gear when I am going to the ground just in case one of our teams is short and they need someone to step in,” he said. “I am fit and ready.”
Representing Canada in the 1979 World Cup remains the highlight of Dennis’ cricket career.
“I listened on the radio to people like Geoff Boycott, Imran Khan and Allan Border who I held in high esteem and here I was playing against these cricketers,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
In their first match, Canada succumbed to Pakistan by eight wickets with 19.5 overs remaining.
Dennis scored 25 out of Canada’s total of 139-9 off 60 overs.
“What I remember most about that match was that I hit Imran Khan for two fours and a two off successive balls,” recalled Dennis. “He almost took off my head with the next ball.”
Dennis was the only batsman to reach double figures – 21 – out of a total of 45 in Canada’s next fixture against England at Old Trafford.
Meeting the late George Headley at the World Cup was another highpoint for Dennis.
“I was among a set of schoolboys who were at a two-day camp that George conducted in Jamaica,” said Dennis. “He referred to me as ‘Little Model’ because of the promise I had shown and my technical correctness. When I saw him in England, I approached him and he remembered me been at the camp and what he had said about me then.”
Dennis was among six members from the 1979 team to be among the first class of inductees in the player category. The others are Garnet Brisbane who resides in Montreal, Tariq Javed, Bryan Mauricette, John Vaughan and all-rounder Cecil Marshall who died in September 2011 at age 71.
Marshall, who became an umpire after retiring as a player, is one of two players to be posthumously inducted. The other is Joel (Martin) Prashad who died in 2000 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. He was 41.
Born in Albion which produced a number of top Guyanese players, Prashad migrated to Canada with his family in 1979. He joined Overseas the next year and, after just six appearances for the second division side, was elevated to the first team. He celebrated the promotion with his debut century on Canadian soil – 110 against Spartans. In 10 seasons with Overseas, Prashad helped the club win three championships before switching to Vikings in 1990.
As captain, he led his new club to two of three titles they secured in the 1990s.
Though limited in his strokeplay, Prashad – who also bowled off spin and kept wicket – mastered the art of occupying the crease in tense situations while gathering runs by identifying and punishing bad balls.
In a 13-year career, he represented Canada in International Cricket Council Trophy tournaments for Associates in 1986, 1990 and 1994 and also played in series against Jamaica, Bermuda, the United States, Barbados Denmark and The Netherlands.
Prashad was very close to his younger brother, Paul, who was also inducted.
He recorded three centuries in the 1986 ICC Trophy competition in England, including an unbeaten 164 against Papua New Guinea.
The rest of the inductees in the player class are Davis Joseph, Rohan Jayasekera, Farouk Kirmani, John Davison, Ian Billcliff, Anthony Clarke, Ave Mogan and Cricket Canada’s new general manager Ingleton Liburd who was the manager/coach at the Len Harris Cricket Academy in St. Kitts.
Three former Cricket Canada presidents – Jack Kyle, Dr. Geoff Edwards and Ben Sennik – led a list of 26 inductees in the builder category while the late Colin Harvey and Frederick heather went in the official category.
Canada’s 2003 World Cup squad was inducted in the team category.