Vancouver League Season Preview
13 April 2005
The 2005 BCMCL Season is set to kick off in the last weekend in April. To get you primed and ready for the new season here is your first annual guide to the new Premier Division season. The Premier division remains a seven team loop with each team playing the others three times in the course of the season, once home, once away and once at Upper Brockton. Each match is fifty overs in duration, played to ICC rules, and the season culminates in a playoff among the top four teams with the bottom team being relegated to the first division.
2004 saw an undefeated season from Meraloma C.C. and 2003 saw an undefeated year from Salim Akbar C.C. Whether another unbeaten season is in the offing for someone this year is open for debate, but the season will be spiced up with players competing for spots in the B.C. Provincial side which is tentatively scheduled to be playing in the Interprovincial in August and which is definitely playing the MCC twice in late September.
Home Ground: Crescent Beach
Kits will be a welcome addition to the Premier this year. Having been a strong Division 1 side for some time it will be interesting to see how they fare in the much tougher Premier. I must confess to not knowing a lot about their side. Shazad Thakurdas, Jatinder Johal and Tony Chohan lead the batting. Chohan has some Premiership experience but the others have yet to be tested by the league's top bowlers. The bowling will rely on Thakurdas' medium pace supported by Akhtar Nawaz and Khalid Mahmood, also both seamers. Nawaz has struggled in his previous stints in the Premiership and the bowling may struggle to contain sides. I would expect Kits to solidify their Premiership place, likely at the expense of Seattle but not to challenge for a playoff berth.
Home Ground: Seattle
The boys from down I-5 are a hard team to predict. Their roster is ever changing and appears to be rife with politics. The bowling will likely rely on the medium pace of Mike Sachar and the batting on Faisal Awan, who will also captain. Having avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth for the last few years I am predicting a fall to Division one for the Americans this year. Unless, of course, they can manage to convince the cream of the Northwest League to play in the BCMCL this summer, then anything could happen.
Home Ground: Crescent Beach
Last year's Premiership new boys had a successful first season and would have qualified for the playoffs if it weren't for the intervention of a wet August. Once again they will field a powerful bowling line up lead by aggressive right arm seamers Omar Khaliq and Bilal Khan. The batting is deep, but fragile. More consistency from the likes of Baber Sandhu will see them post decent scores but they are just as likely to be shot out for 100 as they are to make 300. With another year of experience this young side should develop into a solid contender and I expect them to nab the fourth and final playoff spot.
Home Ground: Norgate Park
Having suffered a mass exodus of players just prior to the beginning of last season the boys from the 'Shore did well to manage to stay in the Premier, never mind qualify for the playoffs. Qualify they did, but this season looks to be an even harder one for the denizens of Norgate. Carwyn Cannon is once again the skipper, but Kiwi left armer Lachlan Munro and the surprisingly effective Richie Benjamin have departed, and no obvious replacements have emerged. Once again the bowling looks pretty decent with B.C. quick Simon Upton returning from a shoulder injury to bolster seamers Garreth Benjamin, Carwyn Cannon and the spinners Ryan Cannon and Roger Pressly. The batting, on the other hand, looks weak. To stay up, or challenge for a playoff spot, the 'Shore will need more consistency from the Cannons and a solid contribution from BC U-18 opener Vohara Gunaratna. The 'Shore's fortunes will also be enhanced if young players such as Arjun Pradhan and Rahat Sharma can make a successful move from the first division to the Premier. Expect a relegation struggle.
Home Ground: Memorial Park
After going undefeated in 2003 Salim Akbar entered the 2004 season with a very similar line up, but a lot less desire. It showed as they slipped to third place despite acquiring North Shore all rounder David Manoj early in the season. With this schizophrenic side you never know what to expect. First it includes tempermental performers such as David Manoj and Hussain Dawood, who on their day can be destructive players, but no one knows when their day will be. Second, there is no way to predict the make up of their team from year to year as wheeler dealer co-GM's Taj Mohammed and Taslim Akbar are constantly tinkering with the line up. The batting will, once again, be focussed on Canadian middle order batsman Haninder Dhillon and he will likely be supported by JJ Dawood, who put together some useful knocks last year, Manoj David, and the evergreen Shahid Naqi, who is rumoured to be returning for another season. The bowling may or may not include Salim Jaffer, he is rumoured to be off to Kitsilano, and will likely focus on David Manoj's spin and Imran Khan's medium pace. All that being said, you never know who is out there on the free agent market and I expect another bowler to be added to the Salak ranks before the playoffs roll around. Regardless of the exact make up of the team, there is enough talent at Salak to ensure a playoff berth, whether it is first or fourth will depend on the free agent market and on Salak regaining their desire.
Home Ground: Minoru Park
Richmond found themselves second last season, but didn't fare well in the playoffs and failed to qualify for the final. This year the team looks similar with the batting once again the strength. The middle order containing Canadian squad members Sajiv Fernando and Channa Karunaratne along with BC U-19 batsman Hensen Fernandes will score runs, especially if the up and down Minoru wicket is repaired. Their ability to restrict other teams will be the question, especially with the loss of former Canadian left arm spinner Barry Seebaran. Sajiv Fernando had a good year with his bustling inswingers and he will be relied upon to make crucial breakthroughs. Athula Thilakaratne offers movement, but not much pace in support, so the bowling will need to be reinforced. Richmond should qualify for the playoffs, but to really challenge they need to get some cutting edge to their bowling.
Home Ground: Connaught Park
Last year's undefeated champions look a very solid bet to repeat. The side has changed little with Damian Loth the most prominent figure to depart, to retirement. Last season's batting champion, Luke Robertson, will also not be back, but the Lomas' management have apparently secured a like for like replacement. The BCMCL's batsmen will not be pleased to hear that right arm quick Andrew Downs is returning for a second season. Again the bowling will be formidable with the quicks, Downs and Steve Welsh, supported by Canadian left arm spinner Kevin Sandher and either Alistair Donaldson or Tassie Clippingdale. The batting will be solid, if unspectacular, with the middle order needing to come up with more runs than last year to ensure that the team isn't wholly reliant on the outstanding bowling line up. Although the Lomas now have a solid core of local players the Aussie Ghetto has been known to attract a few stay antipodeans who can play the game, so it won't be surprising if the Lomas uncover another quality player or two before the season begins. A solid bet to qualify for the playoffs, whether they can be the first to go undefeated for a second year will be interesting.