Ashish Bagai and John Davison head up Canada’s expanded 30-man roster for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. The 30 will be cut in half to the final 15-man World Cup lineup after participation at a Caribbean Twenty20 tournament in January. The Canadians will also play several 50-over matches there against Antigua and English county side Somerset.
“I think from where we are right now, we have a good idea of what that 15 is going to look like,” said Ravin Moorthy, Canada’s high-performance manager.
“But when we get to this level, every decision is a tough decision. Everybody has put in a lot of work to be part of this squad but unfortunately we can only take 15.”
Canada has been drawn in Group A at the World Cup with Australia, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
The Canadians open Feb. 20 against Sri Lanka in Hambantota, Sri Lanka.
The major omission from the long list is New Zealand-based Ian Billcliff, who has been an important batsman for Canada in the past.
Moorthy said it had not been possible to match Billcliff’s schedule with his team’s pre-tournament plans.
“We’ve been in India for a month,” he said Thursday from Calgary. “We just came back. We’re off to the West Indies in about two weeks time for the Caribbean T20 and then we’re off to Dubai. It was just a question of availability.”
Bagai will captain the squad, which Moorthy says has been 90 per cent together since the end of September.
Davis, 40, was born in Canada but the batsman/off-spinner makes his home in Australia.
The 30-man roster includes 16-year-old batsman Nitish Kumar who with Hiral Patel and Ruvindu Gunasekera played at the U-19 World Cup.
Canada’s record is a combined 1-11 at three World Cups.
Canada finished 15th out of 16 teams at the 2007 tournament when it went 0-3 and failed to advance out of its pool.
There were ups and downs in 2003 when Canada went 1-5 in a tournament played under a different format.
The Canadians opened with a win over Bangladesh but later crashed to a nine-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in a game that saw Canada score just 36 runs — the lowest ever one-day international score.
Davison then turned heads with a 111 in a loss to the West Indies, notching the fastest century in World Cup history.
Canada went 0-3 in 1979.
But the Canadians have high hopes for 2011.
“The first goal is to better what we did last time,” Moorthy said.
“We’d like to see ourselves into the second round,” he added. “And we feel that’s achievable. I mean it’s not going to be easy but it’s an achievable target.”
The top four in the pool advance to the quarter-finals.
Moorthy takes hope in Kenya advancing to the semifinals in 2003 and Ireland making it into the Super 8 stage in 2007.
Waleed Ahmad, Winnipeg; Manny Aulakh, Vancouver; Akshay Bagai, Toronto; Ashish Bagai, Toronto; Harvir Baidwan, Toronto; Trevin Bastiampillai, Toronto; Umar Bhatti, Toronto; Grant Broadhurst, Calgary; Rizwan Cheema, Toronto; Khurram Chohan, Calgary; John Davison, Sydney, Australia; Parth Desai, Toronto; Jeremy Gordon, Toronto; Tyson Gordon, Edmonton; Ruvindu Gunasekera, Toronto; Amabhir Hansra, Abbotsford, B.C.; Sandeep Jyoti, Toronto; Nitish Kumar, Toronto; Usman Limbada, Toronto; Henry Osinde, Toronto; Hiral Patel, Toronto; Cecil Pervez, Toronto; Balaji Rao, Toronto; Manrick Singh, Vancouver; Junaid Siddiqui, Toronto; Zeeshan Siddiqui, Winnipeg; Zubin Surkari, Toronto; Hamza Tariq, Calgary; Karl Whatham, Vancouver; Zameer Zaheer, Toronto.