Thoughts on the ICC squad selection
25 May 2005
The trials have come and gone, and now the CCA selectors have the difficult task of picking their squad of 14 to compete at the ICC Trophy. The recent withdrawal of Bagai and injuries to Codrington and Patel, all experienced players with proven ability to compete at the highest level, make their task more difficult.
The trails did not really provide much help - the CCA should be commended for holding this series of games but it was hard for relatively poorly known players to show the selectors much, given it was early in the season, and for some of them their first experience playing on grass wickets. It would require an exceptional performance from players without international experience to break into the squad, and although there were some fine efforts- Dixon's 42, and Salmon Chaudry's 44 come to mind - no players clearly thrust themselves forward.
So, who should go to Ireland? The core of the team picks itself. Davison leads the side as captain, and Billcliff will be there to shore up the middle order and act as vice captain.
On the bowling side, Dhaniram and Sandher surely must be picked, and Canada could play three spinners if they pick their best bowlers. However the pitches in Ireland likely will favour swing and seam, and a solid pace attack is essential. Patel, although injured and unable to play in the trials, has performed consistently at the top level and must be picked if fit. Don Maxwell bowled well in the trials and has the potential to make quick runs in the middle order. Bhatti also bowled well, and given the form shown over the Victoria Day weekend, plus his superb performance in 2001, Sanjay Thurasingham must be considered. Austin Codrington if fit also should be in the squad.
On the batting side, Hanindher Dhillon has done more than enough to earn his place, and he should be joined by Zubin Surkari, whose speed in the field will be essential in a side which will contain several players in their mid-thirties.
The loss of Bagai will be keenly felt but there is good competition for the keeper's spot between Mulla and former Sri Lankan Test player Dassanayake. This author has seen neither of them keep wicket, but perhaps the international experience of Dassanayake tips the vote to him.
If only one keeper is chosen, this leaves two spots open. The list so far contains only three specialist batsmen, and this is where Canada's weakness lies. It is tempting to look at players with previous experience at the ICC Trophy, and World Cup - Chumney, or Maraj for instance but perhaps Canada needs to look at its younger players. Zahid Hussain and Jason Patraj have both been tried at international level, but so far have not overly impressed (and Hussain is a bowler who can bat a bit rather than an all rounder). Calgarian Manzoor Chaudhary has also been on the periphery of the national squad, but failed at the trials. Perhaps those closer to these players - the selectors and coaching staff - can recognize potential in these youngsters, and take a chance with some enterprising selections. For the sake of argument I'm going to pick Chaudhary and Mulla in my fourteen here.
I would suggest a starting XI of Davison, Surkari, Billcliff, Maxwell, Dhillon, Dassanayake, Dharinam, Codrington, Thurasingham, Patel, and Sandher or Bhatti (depending on pitch conditions). This team offers a nice mixture of experience and youth. It has a balanced bowling attack, four players with first-class experience outside of the Intercontinental Cup, and bats down to 7, with numbers 8 and 9 capable of scoring runs. The batting offers players with considerable hitting power along with those who can bat more defensively if conditions demand.
That's my pick anyway- what's yours? Many of our readers know far more about the recent form of these players than I do. Mail me your comments and suggested squad of 14, and we'll publish them.