Ontario B Triumph Between the Rain
The Victoria Day weekend in 2008 saw what proved to be the only Scotiabank National T20 Championship and the first tournament under the banner of Cricket Canada. It followed a 2005 T20, which proved to be the first and last under the banner of the Canadian Cricket Association.
The next National T20 was staged in 2012 and returned in 2013 with both events under the sponsorship banner of CIBC. Those two events were based on a five region concept of Canadian cricket, potentially with a regional development coach in each region. The 2012 and 2013 National championships included both T20 and 50-over competitions.
A Demanding Schedule
The 2008 Scotiabank T20 tournament had a demanding schedule. Two groups of four provincial representative teams set to play a round-robin format on the Saturday at Maple Leaf Cricket Club, King City, Ontario. The eight provincial teams included two Ontario squads plus representative teams from Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan. All eight teams would then play in the Quarter finals on the Sunday morning with semi-finals and the final to follow as the day progressed. Holiday Monday was to feature the lower ranking provincial teams competing in a Development League competition, which would have begun on the Sunday afternoon. Players from the upper echelons were to be selected for to play in two All-Star games on the Monday. Overall, a showcase from which talent and potential could emerge.
A potential starting point for a Canada-wide cricket development programme that might, one day, embrace women and girls. There was a Canadian women’s tour of Trinidad & Tobago which might have opened some more doors of opportunity and interest within Canada.
The Reality: Rain Hit Hard
The three round robin sets of group matches were completed on the Saturday, although the records I have unearthed and researched online remain short of scoring details. It can be useful to know who did what against whom on the development pathway.
Sunday saw rain and some included stop-start phases in two quarter-final matches before the rain killed off the prospect of any further play. It seemed surprising play had resumed in two quarter finals, but there was probably a realization of more unfavourable weather in the forecast and a need to complete the core tournament.
Semi-finals, reduced to 5 overs per innings, were played on the Holiday Monday after the fields had a chance to recover from some of the drenching. The final was slated to follow as a 15-overs per innings game. The Victoria Day Holiday Monday ended with Ontario B beating Quebec by 15 runs to win the inaugural Scotiabank National T20 cricket championship.
Saturday’s Round-Robin Phase
All three rounds of four matches were completed on the Saturday for the two groups of four teams. British Columbia ended the day at the top of Group A with 3 wins. Ontario B was second thanks to 2 wins and 1 defeats, Alberta managed 1 win and 2 defeats while Nova Scotia footed the group with 3 defeats. Group B was headed by Quebec and Ontario A, who each won 2 and lost 1 match. Manitoba won 1 and lost 2, leaving Saskatchewan at the foot of the table with 3 losses.
There were challenges for several teams as the games were played on a prepared natural turf wicket rather than an artificial surface and it was early in the outdoor cricket season for several, if not most, of the players.
Group A Results and Scores (as available)
Nova Scotia 64 (19.4 overs, Amit Joshi 43) lost to Alberta 67/0 (9.3 overs, Zulfiqar Hussain 42*) by 10 wickets
Ontario B lost to British Columbia by ? wickets (Manoj David 2/24 and 32 runs for BC)
Alberta 97/8 (20 ov) lost to British Columbia 98/1 (16.5 ov, Geoff Barnett 53*) by 9 wickets Ontario B 168/5 (20 ov, Chris Manohar 43*) beat Nova Scotia 80/6 (20 ov) by 88 runs
British Columbia 143/2 (20 ov, Manoj David 59, Geoff Barnett 56*) beat Nova Scotia 115/5 (20 ov) by 28 runs
Ontario B beat Alberta by 76 runs
Group B Results and Scores (as available)
Manitoba 65 (? overs) lost to Ontario A 66/2 (14.5 overs, Aftab Shamsudeen 23) by 8 wickets Quebec 153/4 (15 ov, Abdul Jabbar Chaudrey 83) beat Saskatchewan 83/4 (15 ov) by 71 runs Saskatchewan 74 (15.5 ov, Qamah Zahar 4/18) lost to Manitoba 75/5 (16.1 ov, Suresh Jayaraman 28) by 5 wickets
Quebec 71 (18.4 ov, Harvir Baidwan 2/5) lost to Ontario A 72/1 (15.5 ov, Asif Mulla 36*, Trevin Bastiampillai 31*) by 9 wickets
Ontario A beat Saskatchewan by 9 wickets
Quebec beat Manitoba by 7 wickets (Quebec’s Ashish Patel took 4/14)
Quarter Finals in the Rain
Sunday’s quarter-finals took the biscuit as play resumed after stoppages in two of the quarter games despite “continuing rain”, according to the report I filed with the Canada Cricket Online website. I don’t think it was realized by too many, myself included, that some play had resumed.
Ontario A beat Nova Scotia, who completed 5 overs batting second. Ritchie Karpoor struck 54* for Ontario A, Abdool Samad made 26 and Umar Bhatti chipped in with 26.
Zulfiqar Hussain lead with 40 runs and A. Gupta made 27 in Alberta’s 125/5 (20 overs) against Quebec Quebec scored 22 from 2.5 overs before rain halted play. When play resumed, Abdul Jabbar went on to reach 42* of a winning score of 87/1 from 12 overs.
Tanzil Rehman took 3 wickets for 8 runs as Saskatchewan struggled to 63/8 from 20 overs against British Columbia. B.C. made a slow start in wet conditions scoring 2 runs for the loss of 1 wicket from 1.5 overs and that seems to have been the end of the game.
Manitoba made 61 all out from 18 overs, Joe Lovelace scoring 13 runs, in a no result against Ontario B. Mohsin Mulla bagged 3 wickets for 8 runs for Ontario B while Eion Katchay grabbed 3 for 11.
Holiday Monday Championship Day
It came as no surprise that play was delayed on the Monday’s Victoria Day. The Maple Leaf Cricket Club fields were very wet when leaving on the Sunday and the weather had not transformed into a heatwave to dry up the excess water on the Monday morning.
The two semi-finals were reduced to 5-overs per innings. Quebec’s 41 for 5 wickets proved just enough as British Columbia fell short with 37/8 from 5 overs. Ontario A scored just 28.8 from 5 overs and lost to Ontario B who won by 4 wickets, thanks to reaching 29/6.
Ontario B became the first and, as it has turned out, only winners of the Scotiabank National T20 cricket championship. Ontario B struck 120/6 from 20 overs with useful contributions by Sanjay Thuraisingham (36), Zubin Surkari (20), Sohman Anjuria (17) and Eion Katchay (15*).
Some closing speeches and presentations followed the championship game. CBC provided some pre-tournament coverage and reported on the games, as did ATN (Asian Television Network) and the Rogers Community channel televised some of the games, including the Final. The tournament also gained publicity in the mainstream and ethnic print media.
During the summer of 2008, Cricket Canada hosted a 3-team ODI tournament featuring West Indies, Canada and Bermuda, which attracted crowds to Maple Leaf Cricket Club. The Ontario Cricket Association hosted an inter-league championship, which also proved to be a first and last. The outdoor cricket season in Canada was capped with the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend Four Nation T20 series involving Canada, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe at the Maple Leaf ground in King City, Ontario.
Sometime during the rains of the Victoria Day Weekend tournament, some of the cricketing leaders might have recognized a need existed to improve the dressing room facilities for the players and officials at such events. Maple Leaf had and has the grounds to support domestic development tournaments plus some international games and tournaments, including ICC Americas events. Some players would surely benefit from being able to shower between innings on hot days or shelter from passing storms on wet days,
A dream that probably remains for some, if not many, who developed or are still developing, their cricketing skills over the years in the Greater Toronto Area.