MCC v Canada

21-23 September 2005

Day 1: Canada 277-6

Canada made 277-6 off 96 overs by close of play on the opening day of the 3-day game with MCC at Toronto Cricket Club.

Canada built a firm base in the first two sessions of play. Openers Shahad Afzul and Balaji Rao took the score to 69 before Rao was out for 36. He played a memorable drive for 6 over the covers in the early part of his innings.

Manoj David then came in and the score progressed solidly. Afzul was second out at 169 when attempting his sixth six he was caught at deep midwicket for 83. This brought Qaiser Ali to the crease and he played the most fluent innings of the day.

The day seemed to belong to Canada but the innings spluttered after reaching 250. First David was run-out on a risky single to short-third man (250-3, David 56). Next over Ali was caught at the wicket for 63. Trevin Bastiampillai didn't last long and Pubudu Dassanayake went for 11, bowled by David Balcombe. The bowler was delghted having suffered a hook for 6 over the deep square leg fielder in his previous over. There was no further loss and play resumes at 10.30am on Thursday September 22.

Day 2 Close of Play: Canada 300; MCC 282-1 (Foster 135*, Compton 117*) " rain stopped play

Michael Foster and Nick Compton each scored a century for MCC against Canada after the home team's first innings ended quickly. Rain ended the second day's play early at which time the pair had added 250 for MCC's second wicket. There are several possibilities for the last day. Hopefully the game will move toward an exciting end but it could peter out into a tame draw, particularly if there is heavy overnight rain. Play on the final day is due to commence at 10 am.

Canada resumed on 277-6 but was soon all out for 300. Ben Claypole took 3 of the 4 wickets that fell, making good use of the second new ball. Henry Osinde made an early breakthrough for Canada, bowling Carl Rogers for 13 (32-1, 9th over). This later proved to be the only wicket Canada took on the day. Compton was troubled by Osinde's first ball but soon settled down. As the innings wore on he played a number of stylish shots.

Foster and Compton saw the total to 75-1 at lunch. They added a further 104 in 32 overs by the tea interval, after which they posted 102 in 28 overs before the rain came. Threatening clouds had moved over the ground at least a couple of times earlier in the day so players and spectators were probably lucky there was so much play.

Foster was first to his ton, completed with a four through the covers in the 63rd over. Compton reached the century mark on the first ball of the 66th over. Canada used seven bowlers during the day. Steven Welsh, who has an Australian background, looked a useful medium pace bowler.

There seems to be more pressure in this match on several of the Canadian side than the MCC. The visitors are a mix of some retired first-class cricketers, with a few youngsters and a couple with English minor counties experience. Day 2 was a good one for the Australians in the party (Foster and Claypole). One of the purposes of these MCC tours is to aid development of the sport in countries such as Canada.

The match is more like a trial for some of Canada"s players, being an opportunity to shine, or otherwise, with future one-day (ICC Trophy or World Cup) or three-day game (Intercontinental Cup) places as a reward for personal success. SIx of the team are from outside Ontario, some of whom, one gathers, may not be used to regular play on turf wickets. That can make a big difference when it comes to timing ones strokes when batting or bowling the right line and length.

Day 3: Canada 300 and 185-9 drew with MCC 384

Canada prevented MCC"s efforts to win the game on the final day at Toronto Cricket Club and the match ended in a draw. In the morning, MCC elected to continue their first innings and were hoping to bowl out Canada cheaply in the second innings and pull off the win. This strategy was first dented when Canada made quick inroads into the MCC batting and restricted the visitors to a lead of 84 runs.

The pendulum swung the other way when four Canadian wickets fell while adding just 1 run in two overs from a previously promising score of 66-1. A stand between Manoj David (47) and Pubudu Dassanayake (41) helped steer the innings to a safer position and the lower order batsmen then helped stave off the possibility of defeat. When MCC decided victory was not possible given the lack of remaining overs, Canada"s last pair was at the crease and the home team lead by 101 runs.

The day began with MCC on (282-1) but they soon lost both centurions: Michael Foster failed to add to his overnight score of 135 and Nick Compton soon went for 122. As reported earlier in the tour, Compton is the grandson of Denis (D.C.S.) Compton who hit a record 18 first class centuries in the English season of 1947.

There was still some moisture in the air and certainly on the ground following the overnight rain. Steve Welsh and Shahad Afzal bowled a tight line and length. Welsh picked up 4 wickets and Afzal 3. One of the MCC squad asked why Afzal had not been used the previous day as his bowling looked good. Afzal is a tall man and at times banged the seam into the pitch to try and get some movement. Tony Penberthy (42) and David Balcombe (21*) tallied the bulk of the morning runs for the MCC.

In the second innings, Afzal was soon out but Balaji Rao and Manoj David made good progress. The innings was starting to cruise but MCC skipper Tom Harrison brought on Balcombe for the 16th over at the southern end of the ground. Rao was bowled for 31 (66-2) and the last two balls of the over accounted for Qaiser Ali and Manzoor Chaudhary. Next over David Brown had Trevin Bastiampillai caught at the wicket. Home skipper Dassanayake came to the wicket at a far from healthy 67-5; all of a sudden the MCC lead looked larger than it had when their innings closed.

Dassanayake and David steadied the ship. The next happy moment came with a boundary from Dassanayake that meant the potential for an innings win had gone (87-2, 25th over). The tea interval was reached with Canada on 101-5 (32 overs), only 17 ahead with 46 overs of play remaining. David, to his obvious disappointment, was caught in the slips, following a ball outside the off stump. Some of his critics from earlier in the week might even have noticed how he played more fluently in this innings after adjusting to the wicket and the opposition.

Later in the day, Tim Lerwill (manager of the MCC tourists) recognized that the Canada teams they had faced this week were developmental, missing a number of regulars used in ICC Trophy or Intercontinental Cup matches. He noted the future success of Canada at international level depends on developing talent in depth and he thought the MCC side had seen the beginnings of having "good cricketers in depth". The tourists, he confessed, had thought the opening game with the Ontario President"s XI would be a warm-up game but "the team had five current Canadian internationals" and the MCC were beaten.

The remainder of the three-day match continued as a tense battle involving the equation of Canadian wickets lost, runs ahead and the potential remaining overs for MCC to score the runs for victory. Balcome returned to have Dassanayake (41) caught by the wicket keeper (150-7). This was the captain"s best innings on home soil this season. The eighth wicket pair defended safely for a few overs but then Andrew Chatterpaul realistically ran himself out, looking for a single that was not there from a prod on the legside. He had previously called and been turned down by his partner for a quick single on two or three previous balls in the over. He had been going well for his 21 up to this point. The total was 165-8 off 60 overs; a lead of just 81 with a few too many overs remaining, from a Canadian perspective.

Perhaps MCC"s last realistic chance of a win came after Suresh Jayaraman fell to Kendrick (172-9) to delighted screams from the tourists but the bowler missed a next ball low return catch from a drive by Henry Osinde. A few shots later, Osinde had helped push the lead to 101 when the "win" equation for the MCC meant they would only have about 5 overs to score the runs ..and that only if they got the last wicket in the next over they bowled. This was too improbable a prospect and the players shook hands to end the game.

The "Man of the Match" awards were announced at a subsequent dinner at the cricket club. MCC Tour Manager (Tim Lerwill) mentioned the contributions of Qaiser Ali , Manoj David (56 and, particularly his second innings 47 "it held up our game plan" and the last day spell by Steve Welsh before selecting Shahad Afzul as the Canadian winner. He noted Afzul"s first innings 83 and "tight line" last day spell of 3-45. The Welsh/Afzal morning spell was key to MCC having a relatively slender lead. Phil Nuttall, Chair of the cricket section of the TCS&CC, named Nick Compton as MCC"s Man of the Match for his 122.

The crowd, certainly where I was sitting, seemed to enjoy the last afternoon battle for the draw by Canada. It will be interesting to hear if the tourists enjoy the rest of their trip which will see them cover many miles and several matches over the next week to 10 days. As for the pitch, Mr. Lerwill remarked it might have lasted for a further 3 days of play. (Eddie Norfolk)