He was Canada’s most productive cricketer for nearly a decade before retiring after the last World Cup two years ago.
Introduced to Canadian cricket in 1999 by former Toronto Cricket Club (TCC) player Andrew Bracht during a meeting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the aggressive right-arm off-spinner, hard-hitting batsman and brilliant fielder made an impact in his first season in the Toronto & District Cricket Association’s premier league in 2000 as TCC’s player-coach, heading the bowling average (12.83) for his 24 wickets and finishing second in the batting average with (30.82) from 339 runs.
Last Friday, the club recognized Davison’s contributions by inducting him into its Wall of Fame. He celebrated his 43rd birthday a day earlier.
“I am proud of the contributions I made to Canadian cricket and to Toronto Cricket Club,” said Davison, who was back in the city for the first time in six years. “It’s nice to be recognized and also to be back at the club to see some old faces and renew friendships I made when I came here 13 years ago.”
Davison’s impressive showing at TCC led to his national debut in the inaugural 2000 Americas Cup tournament, which Canada won and his appearance in the 2001 International Cricket Council (ICC) Trophy tournament for Associates. Both competitions took place in the Greater Toronto Area.
He played in all 10 ICC Trophy matches, registering 145 runs and capturing 15 wickets to help Canada qualify for the 2003 World Cup in South Africa where he made history, slamming the fastest World Cup century (67 balls) at the time against the West Indies with a superb 111 that included six sixes and eight boundaries. (Aussie opener Matthew Hayden broke the record in 2007 with a 66-ball hundred and Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien now holds the new mark with his 50-ball century against England in 2011).
Davison, who also represented Australian state teams Victoria and South Australia, singles out that remarkable century as one of his career highlights.
“It was one of those days when everything just clicked,” he said. “Looking back, I am however disappointed that I was dismissed in the 22nd over on such a good wicket after I was seeing and hitting the ball so well. I felt I really missed out on a big opportunity by being dismissed with almost 30 overs remaining.”
Dropped at 55 and 76 and surviving the ball hitting his stumps without dislodging the bails when he was on 71, Davison was eventually dismissed to a brilliant Vasbert Drakes catch with the score at 155-2. Canada succumbed for 202 in 42.5 overs with the next best individual score being 19 by Desmond Chumney.
Just four days before his record innings, Sri Lanka bowled out Canada for a One-Day International record low 36.
“That was humiliating,” said Davison, who was born in British Columbia. “That along with the some of the frustration I encountered with the game’s administrators in Canada were among some of the disappointments.”
Davison completed Canada’s 2003 World Cup campaign with the third fastest World Cup half-century against New Zealand. He led Canada in the batting and bowling averages with 37.7 from 226 runs and 18.7 from 10 wickets.
A year later, Davison made a dream debut as Canada’s captain, producing an incredible all-round performance in an Intercontinental Cup match against the United States in Florida. In one of the most dominant bowling displays in first-class cricket, he claimed a national record 17 wickets and top-scored with 84 in the first innings.
“The conditions were really oppressive,” Davison said. “It was very hot and humid and it was really a tough physical battle. I have always been picked as a spin bowler and to really dominate a game with my bowling is something that I am really proud of.”
His match-haul of 17-137, the 17th best bowling figures in first-class cricket, eclipsed the previous best national mark of 14-154 by TCC fast bowler Jack Laing against the U.S. in 1896. It was also the best first-class figures in 48 years since late England off-spinner Jim Laker took 19-90 against Australia in the 1956 Old Trafford Test.
While savouring his individual World Cup highlights and Canada’s first and only World Cup victory against Bangladesh in 2003, Davison says the World Cup qualifiers were very appealing.
“Playing in the World Cup was like a novelty in that we were there to try to compete,” said Davison, who moved to Australia at a young age, played Grade cricket in Melbourne and attended the Australia Cricket Academy in 1993. “There was however a lot of pressure in the qualifying tournaments and we were expected to win. I really got a lot out of those competitions and enjoyed those matches because they were highly competitive. Winning those matches and tournaments also benefitted Cricket Canada financially.”
Now married with two young children, Davison was the assistant coach of the Aussie women’s team that won the World Cup in India earlier this year. He’s also Cricket Australia consultant.
“It was a great honour to play for Canada,” he said. “The opportunity to play on the world stage is something I would not have been able to do had Canada not approached me. I hope the young players coming through now will recognize the importance of playing for their country. “Players like me and Ian Billcliff brought toughness and hard work even though we still had a good time. Just playing for Canada is not good enough. It is also about putting in the effort and doing well on the field.”