Canadian Cricket

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spotlight on Bagai

Mary Ormsby has written an excellent piece on Canadian wicketkeeper-batsman Ashish Bagai in today's Toronto Star. The young man is quickly becoming a star, and may well end up playing somewhere professionally in the near future if he asserts himself well at the World Cup next month. The lead of the article, along with a picture of Bagai, was on the front page of the Saturday Sports section, which may show a greater interest in cricket by the editorial staff of the Star.

The full text of the article can be found here - my favourite line appears as a caption to the photo, "I am an Indian person, but I'm a Canadian athlete." Really sums up the right attitude to have as an expat cricketer!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

World Cricket League Report Card

Considering everything that went on for Canada at the World Cricket League tournament in Nairobi, we basically got what we expected. We beat Bermuda, picked up another close win, and were reasonably competitive overall. We ended up missing the finals, but picking up some valuable experience heading into the World Cup in just over a month from now.

As a team, I've got to give Canada a B-: they did well, but not quite well enough to earn a top grade. A record of 2-3 over the tournament could just as well have been 4-1, with a few edges going the other way against Scotland, and a different situation against Kenya. That being said, they didn't, and we have to consider the results as they are. Now you'll see my evaluation of the individual players' performances.

Qaiser Ali - C - His high score of 60 against Ireland was an integral part of Canada's win, but he only managed 9 additional runs in 3 innings. He will be in the competition to stay in the lineup with the return of Barnett and Billcliff for the WC, and did nothing to distinguish himself here.

Ashish Bagai - A+ - It's pretty easy to evaluate a player when he is given the player of the tournament award at the closing banquet. He averaged 86.50 runs, with a high score of137, and was as good as ever whilst wearing the gloves. Hopefully he can continue with this form into the future, as he is becoming a star. Also a candidate for the captaincy in the future.

Umar Bhatti - B- - A difficult tour for Umar, he battled injury throughout and bowled decently when he had the chance. He could have been better, but could also have been much worse. I can't help but think he was hurt by the inclusion of Anderson Cummins as an opener, as his tandem with Osinde seemed unstoppable in the summer.

Desmond Chumney - D- - Only charity stopped me from giving an F here. When you are selected as a batsman, you cannot have a high score of 8. I have heard a lot about his potential, but he needs to show me (and the selectors) something if he wants to keep wearing Red and White.

George Codrington - B - Big George had a decent tour, doing his thing as an all-rounder. He bowled tight lines, made some runs, and served as a strong vice-captain to Davison. His years are likely coming to a close soon, but he is still able to produce an innings with the best of them.

Austin Codrington - C - This Codrington didn't get much playing time, only appearing in one match in the tournament. When he did, it was not memorable, as he went for plenty of runs and no wickets. It seems the powers that be favour the older Cummins, and that is bad news for Codrington, seeing as Bhatti and Osinde are shoo-ins.

Anderson Cummins - D - Eyebrows were raised when this man was named to the squad, and my eyebrows were on the back of my head when I noticed how many chances he was given. His bowling was erratic, he gave away heaps of extras, and he was just not good enough.

John Davison - B+ - Davison continues to do his thing as jack-of-all-trades for Canada. He captains well, he bats elegantly, and he bowls tightly. He also made a move many of us have been calling for for some time - moving himself down to the 4 spot in the order. Hopefully he will continue to have success from there; and give batsmen fits with his spinners.

Sunil Dhaniram - A - It was a great tournament for Dhani, especially with the ball. He was on fire, picking up 8 wickets at 15.38, and chipped in with the bat as well. Along with Davison, he will be the man to get us through the middle overs in ODIs without giving up runs.

Donovan Maxwell - D - Had trouble with bat and ball when he had the chance. He will have a tough time retaining his spot on the team at the World Cup with the readdition of the Killer B's.

Asif Mulla - B - Batted decently enough, averaging 23.80 and maintaining a run rate near 100. Also served as a decent backup for Bagai with the gloves, which could prove important as Bagai takes on a greater batting role. He may be better off batting at 5-6, as he can give the ball a mighty whack.

Henry Osinde - A- - He was Canada's leading wickettaker, grabbing 9 at 26.56. The only downfall of his game was that he was not as economical as he would have liked. Still, he is probably Canada's top strike bowler and a valuable commodity.

Abdool Samad - C+ - Batted well against Ireland and Scotland, poorly against the rest. Nothing more to be said here.

Kevin Sandher - B- - Got limited playing time as he had to split time with George Codrington. Really didn't get to see enough of him to give him a real rating here, but he did decently enough when given a chance.

In totally unrelated news, I'm starting a new blog which will be my discussion of all manner of sports. Cricket may creep on there at times, but I'm sure you'll all find my musings interesting. Check it out, and let me know what you think. Cheers!

Friday, February 02, 2007

WCL Division 1: Canada v Bermuda

10:10 am EST
It. Is. OVER. The double-Ds of Davison and Dhaniram cleaned up the tail neatly. First Davison took Borden, caught and bowled with his first ball. Then Dhaniram picked up Mukuddem and Leverock lbw on consecutive balls. Bermuda 106 all out (15.5 overs) and Canada pick up a win by 56 runs. REally great bowling effort from Dhaniram finishing on figures of 2.5-1-10-4 and he should be MOTM in my books. THe only effort that could potentially trump him woudl be Davison's batting. In any case, Canada pick up their first win of the WCL!

9:56 am EST
SUNIL DHANIRAM! A double-wicket-maiden is great in any form of cricket, but in this super short game it is spectacular! After Irving Romaine was run out in the previous over, Dhaniram comes on and catches Tucker lbw and then gets Jones to edge one to Bagai - all of a sudden Bermuda are struggling at 89/7 after 12 overs, with a run rate over 8. Dont' count them out though, everyone in this Bermuda lineup can whack the ball! Seems the spinners are having better luck with the ball as Codrington just finished a 5 run over. Bermuda 94/7 after 13, RRR of 8.62

9:48 am EST
This one is getting interesting. The required run rate is still around 7 (actually, exactly 7), but another wicket is down as George Codrington comes through gettin David Hemp out stumped. JJ Tucker is their last real batsman, and he is in now. Looking like a similar innings to Canada's - quick early, slowed by wickets, the big question is if one of the early batsmen can go the distance like Davison did. Bermuda are 86/4 from 10 overs.

9:30 am EST
Henry Osinde just picked up a huge wicket, bowling Lionel Cann. He has been the cause of most of the destruction, scoring 41 of Bermuda's 64 runs thus far (off just 19 balls). Perhaps I have been too critical of Anderson Cummins, as he is bowling very well so far. Bermuda have now reached 70/3 after 7 overs, RRR = 6.64. Trouble for Canada

9:15 am EST
This is Twenty20 for you (technically Twentyone21). Bermuda pick up another heap of runs, Canada pick up a wicket. Smith caught by Dhaniram off Cummins, and after 4 overs Bermuda are 34/2. Still a very balanced match, with the RRR sitting on 7.64

9:05 am EST
Canada's third match of the WCL, against Bermuda is currently underway from the Nairobi Gymkhana. With heavy rain the previous night, the outfield was far too wet to permit any play until the afternoon. As such, the match has been reduced to a 21-over-a-side match rather than the usual 50. Eddie Norfolk, for one, believes the match should not have been played at all as there are still some puddles in the outfield, and the boundary had to be moved in at one point to exclude a "swamp" as he called it. Nonetheless, the match is being played.

Bermuda won the toss and put Canada in to bat first. Skipper John Davison did what this blogger has been saying he should do for a while - drop himself to third in the batting order. It worked, as he amassed 70 runs off just 49 balls. Nobody was really able to help him out, but he led Canada to a respectable total of 163/8 off the allotted overs. The best bowler was Malachi Jones who took 2/25 off 5 overs.

In reply Bermuda are 16/1 after 2 overs. They started with a bang, a 6 and a 4 in the first over, but then much-beleaguered Anderson Cummins induced a Minors edge to Bagai in the second. Stay right here for the latest.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

WCL Division 1: Canada v Scotland

Last night was extremely disappointing, both for me and for Canada. With the delay in coverage, I fell asleep, and then Canada layed the egg that they did, going down to an awful defeat to the Netherlands. Hopefully tonight against Scotland will go better. 20 minutes till game time, and hopefully there are no more technical issues from Kenya. Put up some comments, and if I manage to stay awake I'll put up some thoughts here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Get rid of the geezers!

That was just poor, time to rant.

It is not fair to pin all of Canada's recent ODI struggles on one man, but it is also impossible to ignore the typical odd manner in which the CCA's selection committee chooses the players for the side. I have tried to be patient, to not overly criticize them for the job they do, but this is the final straw.

When they named 40-year-old former West Indies bowler Anderson Cummins to the squad, eyebrows were raised. I tried to calm the other people I spoke with, hoping that they would be using him more like an additional coach than as a featured bowler - I couldn't have been more wrong. Cummins has become - for some reason - a fixture in the Canadian XI on their current African tour. He has taken a place in the lineup that could have been held by a much younger man, perhaps Austin Codrington, and has done nothing to deserve it. Some would blame the captain, or the coach, but it is already well-known that it is the selectors who choose the team for Canada.

What has the great Cummins done since his insertion? He has played in 4 matches. He has batted three times.......and scored a grand total of 1 run. Oh that's alright, he's not supposed to score, he's a gun bowler and that's where he wil make his contribution. Oops, not that either- 3 wickets at an average of 61.00, with an economy of 6.54 runs/over.

Not good enough.

Now I don't blame the man himself - if I were to get selected for a trip to Africa I would take it too. The blame rests on the selectors whose knowledge of cricket seems to be limited to a time ending about 10 years ago. There are other similar choices made - such as Desmond Chumney's 20.47 batting average being preferred to Don Maxwell's 37.25. I do not understand why Canada continues to handicap itself and not field it's best possible team...

All this having been said, it still would have been very difficult for Canada to beat the Netherlands on this day. Ryan ten Doeschate is a spectacular player with bat and ball, and his supporting cast makes them a formidable team on any day. My problem is with the fact that Canada does not give itself the best chance possible to win by playing players for political reasons rather than purely 'cricket' reasons as they should.

....well, that feels better. Let's go beat Scotland tonight!