10 May 2005

The trials for a trip to Ireland

The President of the Ontario Cricket Association, Errol Townsend, came up with an idea to introduce some spice into the 'trials' for Canadian cricketers to compete for places to represent Canada at the ICC Trophy 2005 in Ireland.

One of the issues to be resolved was the playing conditions. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that if a team is going to play on turf wickets in Ireland, it would naturally follow that it would be best to have the 'trials' on turf wickets. There are astroturf wickets in Vancouver and Calgary, and to the best of my recollection there are matting wickets in Winnipeg.

Therefore any players from Western Canada would be at a disadvantage for selection if they were not to be given an opportunity to perform on turf during the weekend of the 'trials'.

The 'unfortunate publicity' given to the issue of the playing conditions for the international match between Canada and Bermuda in the summer of 2004, appears to have motivated the Canadian Cricket Association to get off their collective keisters and work very hard to successfully rejuvenate the wicket which had been prepared for the ICC Trophy matches in 2001.

Unfortunately the groundskeeper responsible for the 'Bermuda wicket' did not make preparations for a normal and usual Toronto winter. Hence, this spring, the wicket looks like it did before he got to work last summer. Your correspondent saw the ground and wicket preparations for winter at King City, the Toronto C.C. and Inverhaugh in the fall of 2004, which was not preparation by neglect.

Quite obviously, given that the 'trials' have now been relocated to King City, the preparations there were more than adequate. The test will be to see if those same fields will receive the necessary care at the end of the 2005 season, given that the Bermuda wicket groundskeeper is now in charge. Cricketers can be assured that we will be carefully watching on your behalf.

Now to the business at hand, namely 'the trials of 2005'.

The three 60-overs matches on the May holiday weekend pit the CCA President's X1 against the OCA President's X1 and are intended to give the national selectors a last look at Canada's elite players before the final 14 are selected for the trip to the ICC Trophy in Ireland and a chance to qualify for the 2007 World Cup.

We have been advised that Kantha Shantikumar, one of the few former Canadian national squad players to take up umpiring, has been included in a six-man panel to officiate at the Victoria Day Cricket Festival May 21-23. Shantikumar, originally from Sri Lanka, was a right arm fast bowler for cup winning Premier Division clubs Gracechurch and Centurions during the 1990s and was a member of the Canadian national squad to the 1990 ICC Trophy in the Netherlands. He was also a member of the Sri Lankan squad to the 1979 ICC Trophy.

Joining Kantha is Kantilal Patel, originally from India, one of Canada's top umpires and a regular on the North American umpiring lecture circuit. Also standing in the Festival which kicks off the local 2005 season are Leroy Myles and Noel Lewis, who have officiated in important fixtures on home turf in recent years. Completing the panel are Les Burnett, a top umpire in the Southern Ontario league, and Hemad Malik of the Hamilton and District league who has umpired important matches in the Middle East before emigrating to Canada.

For these trials three former West Indian fast bowlers and three former Canadian players have been pressed into service as officials at the Victoria Day Cricket Festival May 21-23, an event intended to give the national selectors a last look at Canada's elite players before the Final 14 for the ICC Trophy in Ireland is selected.

Jamaican-born Tom Dewdney, Barbadian Anderson Cummins and Grayson Shillingford of Dominica will serve as Man-of-the-Match Adjudicators, while wicketkeeper Robin Ramsammy, allrounder Danny Singh and paceman Davis Joseph will be Match Referees for the three 60 overs games at King City.

Shillingford, a member of Dominica's most famous cricketing family, who played seven Tests for West Indies in the late 1960s-1970s will serve Saturday May 21 with Ramsammy of the Southern Ontario league who represented Canada at the 1990 ICC Trophy in The Netherlands.

Dewdney, who wore the maroon cap in nine Tests in the 1950s with best figures of 5-21 v New Zealand at Auckland in 1955, will join former Canadian skipper Singh on Sunday May 22. The 39-year-old Cummins, who played five Tests and 63 onedayers will serve on Victoria Day (May 23) with Joseph whose 6-39 v Jamaica in the Red Stripe Bowl is one of the best performances by a Canadian bowler in recent times.

Curiously, although Shillingford, Dewdney and Cummins, played in Toronto's top league after emigrating to Canada, none of them were considered good enough to be picked for Canada. (Jon Harris with files from ET)

King City