Canada at the West Indies Regional 50 over competition

Canada’s West Indies Regional 50 over tournament came to a damp end with no play possible in their final match, as rains and floods swept Trinidad. Canada finished with a record of one win, five losses and two matches washed out. although this was not a full strength team- billed as a development team by Cricket Canada – this was a solid performance, with the team competitive in every match. The extended run of 50 overs games will be useful for the selectors (whoever they might be- how about an update, Cricket Canada?) in looking at who might be in the squad for the World Cricket League Division 2 tournament in April.

Newly appointed captain and coach Davy Jacobs can be considered to have had a good tour, earning praise for his captaincy from West Indies commentators, and scoring 175 runs in the middle order. It is not clear whether he has permanently displaced Nitish Kumar as Canada’s captain, and whether his coaching appointment will be permanent, but he certainly did himself no harm in Trinidad.

The successes of the tour were clear – Navneet Dhaliwal scored 271 runs at an average of 45.16, 4th best of all run scorers in the tournament, establishing himself as a solid opening bat in this format. He also bowled well, taking three wickets and was economical.

Eranga was far and away the best bowler with 17 wickets at an average of 12.11. He was the top wicket-taker of all bowlers in the round-robin part of the tournament, and his 6/21 against the Windwards the best bowling figures. For Canada, Salman Nazar was the next highest wicket taker with six. Eranga had two five wicket hauls, and troubled every opponent with his lively left-arm pace. At 33, he may not be a player for the long term but could well be an important part of Canada’s plans for the next couple of years.

Other players had good matches but these weren’t translated into good tournaments. Of the less established players, Rodrigo Thomas got off to a flying start with half centuries in his first two innings, but only batted two more times. Thaker made an excellent half-century in Canada’s opener but then managed only another 62 in four more innings. Sukhdeep Brar took 5 wickets, a good start to his Canadian career.

The 50 overs format suits Nitish Kumar’s style, and his final return of 158 runs from 6 innings has to be considered a disappointment. He has the ability and experience to be a match winner for Canada, but after getting a start in most games, generally failed to deliver the big innings needed. After a good Americas T20 with the ball, he failed to take a wicket.

Ravindu Gunasekera had a disappointing tournament. He has won matches for Canada with the bat, and has been gaining experience at the highest level of cricket in Sri Lanka. This tournament was his opportunity to re-establish himself as an automatic choice for Canada, but 61 runs in four innings did not help his cause. Bhavindhu Adhihetty did not have a good tournament. The young batsman has considerable promise but only averaged 15 in four innings. Dutta and Salman Nazar bowled their spin well at times, and had good tournaments. Dillon Heyliger failed to make the most of the opportunities offered to him, taking just one wicket, and making just 40 runs. Cecil Pervez played just twice, arriving late, then being injured. Wijeyeratne also was injured, after making 57 in the opening match against West Indies B, and 35 against Windwards.

This tournament is the last currently scheduled event for the national team before the World Cricket League Division 2 tournament in April- it is to be hoped the national team will play again prior to that date, but a long winter awaits. The selectors certainly have made some progress, but some questions remain to be settled before final selection of a team. Overall though, the opportunity to play a series of 50-over matches against high-quality opposition has been invaluable, and the entire squad should be commended for their efforts.

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