Western Canadian U-25 Tournament


Iain Dixon


The Manitoba perspective - Damien Mills

It is always a pleasure for the Manitoba U-25 squad to visit Edmonton each year, and this year was no exception. The extremely cold weather made for less than perfect playing conditions, but this did not dishearten the players who gave it their all.

Manitoba entered the tournament with a young, inexperienced side. Initially, team management was worried about the strength of the batting, and felt that the bowling could hold its own in the tournament. As it turned out, the batting was to be the only real positive point in Manitoba's play.

Manitoba's first match was against Alberta. Manitoba won the toss and elected to bat. The batsmen cruised along steadily in the high winds and intermittent sleet, and a score of 230 seemed in the cards. However, the loss of the skipper, Damian Mills (76), due to an attempted ambitious stroke, led to a mini-collapse in the middle order. The lower order made a recovery, but was not able to score at the rate set by the top order. Manitoba finished at a respectable 193 for 9. Young Shajib Jaidad bowled a tidy line and length, and was the pick of Alberta's bowlers. Alberta started their innings slowly; after 20 overs they had a scoring rate of just under 3 an over. The opening pair of Suresh Jayaraman and Gareth Yates prevented the Alberta batsmen from playing many scoring shots, with Jayaraman bowling a particularly nagging length. A bowling change immediately led to the first breakthrough for Manitoba, but future breakthroughs were few and far between. The Manitoba bowlers failed to bowl consistently in the channel and conceded far too many extras, and the Alberta batsmen took advantage with some flamboyant stroke-play. Damien Persaud (70*) played particularly well, helping ease Alberta past the Manitoba total with plenty of overs to spare.

In Manitoba's second match against a “confident” British Columbian side, nothing seemed to go right. After a below par performance against Alberta “A”, BC had something to prove, and the calls just seemed to go their way. BC won the toss and did not hesitate to take first strike. Manitoba's day got off to a rough start when Gareth Benjamin was dropped off the bowling of Tommy Jilani on the third ball of the match. This was to set the tone for the rest of the match as Manitoba put in a sloppy bowling and fielding effort. The bowlers bowled two lines, which meant it was almost impossible to set an attacking field. The only exception to this was the bowling of Srivats Vijayan. The young offspinner created problems for the BC top order, and he took the first 3 wickets. He showed maturity beyond his years, and the BC batsmen did not intimidate him. He deceived the batsmen with varied flight, and extracted some reasonable deviation off the wicket. Srivats (Sri) is definitely a good prospect for the future. However, the rest of the time there were many gaps for the BC batsmen, including those gaps in the air that hover over the boundary line! Fernandes, who was fortunate to survive a shout for caught behind when on 40, batted his way to a well deserved 117. He was well supported by John Snow (59) in what was the best knock of the day. Snow's shot selection was very good, and he accelerated his scoring rate as his innings progressed. In typical BC fashion, BC saved its wickets for a slug at the death, and they amassed a score of 293 for 6. Manitoba's reply to BC's total fell well short. Manitoba got off on the wrong foot as BC managed to sell a dramatic appeal to the umpire and had Damian Mills walking for 10 caught behind. Once again, BC got the breaks. The wickets fell consistently, and only Joseph Lovelace (39) provided any real resistance. Lovelace played some beautiful drives straight back along the ground off the bowling of Kevin Sandher. However, Sandher had the last laugh as he dismissed Lovelace, caught at forward short-leg. Sandher rolled through the rest of the batting order to pick up a 5fer. In the end, Manitoba succumbed to BC for only 90.

The thrashing dished out to Manitoba by BC brought about some serious reflection from the Manitoba players. However, talk is cheap, and the players had to put their analysis into practice. As the saying goes, it's easier said than done, and Manitoba's bowling and fielding struggled once again. The bowlers, however, can say that they did their job because they created the chances, but the fielders failed to support them. Suresh Jayaraman and Srivats Vijayan maintained a steady line and length, and Justin Holz gave his leggies a real rip, creating numerous chances. The missed chances, and wayward bowling from some of the bowlers, allowed the Alberta “A” batsmen to push the scoring rate as they found the gaps in the large Millwoods outfield. Eomal Fernanopulle managed to put a bit of a cap on the scoring near the end, and managed to pick up three valuable wickets. Alberta “A” put together a score of 287, which was not out of reach for the Manitoban batsmen. The Millwoods ground is known to produce large scores, and knowing this, the Manitoban batsmen set about the target with purpose. The Manitobans managed to stay close to the asking rate by hitting the odd boundary and running hard between the wickets. Damian Mills (105) played an anchoring role supported by some very useful knocks from Justin Holz (30), Suresh Jayaraman (34), and Joseph Lovelace. However, the required rate mounted and the recognized batsmen got out trying to get the runs. Shayon Mitra provided some fireworks at the end with a few sixes, but it was all in vein as Manitoba could only manage 260. Close, but not good enough. It was an admirable effort by the batsmen, who put up a good chase.

At the awards banquet, Manitoban players received the following awards:

  • Best Batsman for Manitoba: Damian Mills
  • Best Batsman in Tournament: Damian Mills
  • Best Bowler for Manitoba: Eomal Fernandopulle
This tournament was a good learning experience for some of the young, Manitoban players. In addition, it provided old friends a chance to catch up with one another (when they weren't doing battle on the field).

Manitoba would like to thank all of those involved in the organization of this event. The tournament was well organized, and we look forward to competing in this tournament next year.

The Manitoba Squad:

  • Damian Mills (capt)
  • Suresh Jayaraman (v-capt)
  • Joseph Lovelace
  • Justin Holz
  • Tommy Jilani
  • Gareth Yates
  • Matthew Dalloo
  • Krish Ramharakh
  • Neil Barrate
  • Jean Roux
  • Eomal Fernandopulle
  • Shayon Mitra
  • Srivats Vijayan