By Ron Fanfair
Canada’s World Cup cricket hopefuls must participate in at least the last five matches and pass a rigorous fitness test at the end of next month’s three-week training camp in Sri Lanka that also includes 10 one-day contests. A squad of 18 players leaves here on November 1 for Colombo where they will hopefully be joined by overseas-based players John Davison, Geoff Barnett and Ian Billcliff for the last week of the camp.
Davison, a former Canadian captain, is the spin bowling coach at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Brisbane while Barnett, a left-handed opener, and Billcliff, a middle-order batsman, are based in New Zealand.
“If you want to be eligible to play for Canada in the World Cup, you have to be in Sri Lanka and you have to pass a fitness test,” said Cricket Canada’s senior selection committee chair, Chris James. “Candidates will also have to play in at least five matches and that’s why we have requested the presence of the overseas-based players. Basically, the World Cup team will select itself after the Sri Lanka camp.”
James expects the team to be announced by mid-December.
The 14 World Cup participants are required to submit a 30-member provisional squad to the International Cricket Council (ICC) by December 19 and the final 15-member unit by January 19, 2011.
James said a high premium is being placed on physical fitness because cricket is a highly professional sport.
“In order to compete at the top level of the game as we will be doing, you have to be extremely fit,” he said. “This is a non-negotiable issue. When you look at the playing conditions and the teams we will be playing, we have to be fit to at least be competitive.”
Former Sri Lanka cricket captain and batsman Marvan Atapattu, who worked with the national side last year that qualified for the World Cup and again earlier this year with the squad preparing for the ICC Twenty/20 qualifier for Associates in the United Arab Emirates, has been retained as batting coach for the last half of the camp. He will fly in from Singapore where he’s coaching the country’s national side.
On their return, the national squad will take a week off prior to undergoing strength and conditioning training and practice indoors before heading to Dubai on January 19 for a camp for World Cup-bound Associate countries.
Canada is expected to arrive in Bangladesh on February 9 for the first of two warm-up games three days later against the host country at Chittagong and England on February 16 in Dhaka.
The Canadians will meet 1996 champions Sri Lanka in the opening World Cup match on February 20.
Cricket Canada’s chief operating officer, Ingleton Liburd, said every effort is being made to assist the side in its World Cup preparation.
“We are also looking to Davison, Barnett and Billcliff to bring experience and leadership to the table,” he said.
Davison who, in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, slammed the fastest century at the time (67 balls against the West Indies), and Billcliff are set to make their third appearance in the tournament. Barnett made his World Cup debut in St. Lucia three years ago.