Canadian Cricket’s 2022. The Good, Bad & Ugly!

2022 could now possibly be rated as one of the very best years Canadian cricket has enjoyed in recent times. There was that much which happened, particularly on the field that was so very good.

At the National level the 2022 Canadian cricket season began on a most positive note with Canada handsomely winning the second of its two scheduled fifty-over matches against the visiting Nepal after the first encounter had been completely washed out by rain. The Nepal friendly which was played at King City on July 6, featured the Canadian debut of the British Columbia-based Aaron Johnson as the National team’s newfound opening batsman. As a prelude for even greater things to come, Johnson scored an aggressive 55-ball 44 that included eight fours to help Canada to 188/10 off its 50 overs. That proved to be 83 runs too many for Nepal’s batsmen, all ten of whom were dismissed in just 39.2 overs for a team total of 105.

Johnson was again among the runs during the Canadian National T20 Championships that was held at King City from July 10-16 just days after the conclusion of the Nepal Tour. Johnson’s 208 runs scored from 8 innings batted was second only to those of the tournament’s leading run-scorer Ontario’s Rayyan Pathan who scored 254 runs from just six completed innings to end with an overly impressive average of 63.50.

The National T20 Championships bowling was dominated by Saskatchewan’s Sarmad Anwar. His chart-topping 14 wickets were taken at a cost of just 75 runs and from 17 overs bowled at an economy rate of 4.02.
The Canada National team then played unbeaten throughout the 2022 second leg of the ICC Challenge League A World Cup 2023 Qualification tournament. Canada comfortably won all of its respective matches against Denmark, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore and Vanuatu to emerge as points-table leaders at the conclusion of the 12-Day six-country double round-robin tournament, played at King City from July 26 – August 12.

Team captain Navneet Dhaliwal was Canada’s outstanding batsman during the Challenge League A second leg. Dhaliwal amassed 229 runs from 5 innings batted, including two centuries for a tournament average of 57.25.
Dilon Heyliger’s 10 wickets captured from 24 overs bowled at an economy rate of 4.24 were the highest by a Canadian bowler. Heyliger finished fourth in the standings for the tournament’s highest wicket-takers, measurably behind the chart-topping 15 that were taken by Denmark’s Nicolaj Laegsgaard.

Following the completion of the Challenge League tournament it was time for Canada’s lady cricketers to take centre stage at the 2022 National Women’s T20 Championships which were held from August 6 – 13 at King City. Danielle Mcgahey topped the highest run-scorer chart in leading the Prairies to a surprise final match victory over tournament hosts Ontario to clinch the Championships winners title. Mcgahey scored 320 runs from 7 innings batted for an incredible tournament average of 106.67.

Among the bowlers, the veteran Sonnali Vig was the highest wicket-taker with 14 wickets captured from 28 overs bowled at an economy rate of 6.21. Vig was closely followed by British Columbia’s Mannat Hundal whose 13 wickets were taken at a marginally higher economy rate of 6.79.

Both Mcgahey and Hundal were subsequently selected to the Canadian National Women’s Team which travelled to Brazil to participate in the 2022 South America T20 Championships. Argentina and Peru were the other two participating teams for the tournament which the Canadians won with a record of 5-1 win-loss record from its six matches played.
Canadian National Women’s Team Captain Divya Saxena had an outstanding tournament in Brazil. Saxena led from the from with both bat and ball in setting a most worthy example for her fellow teammates to follow.

Just as soon as the Women had returned home it was time for the Men to take off to Oman and Malaysia. The Oman Tour featured the Canadian Men’s team’s participation in a four nations Desert Cup 2022 T20 tournament along with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the hosts. The Canadians won both the Desert Cup as well as the bilateral 50Over Series against their Oman hosts that immediately followed.

The aforementioned Aaron Johnson playing in his first overseas tour in Canadian colours was the National team’s undisputed Desert Cup hero. Johnson scored a century and four half-centuries in his seven Desert Cup innings to end the tournament with a chart-topping 402 runs scored at an average of 67.00. His 400 plus run aggregate was miles ahead of his closest rival, Bahrain’s Sohail Ahmed whose 7-tournament innings produced 258 runs for an average of 86.00.

The Desert Cup Most Wickets chart also featured a Canadian as its leader. Ammar Khalid claimed the honours for the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 12 wickets captured from 26 overs bowled at an economy rate of 6.00.With Oman T20 and 50Over success under their belts the Canadians then travelled to Malaysia for the third and final round of the ICC’s Challenge League A 2023 World Cup Qualification tournament. Canada played unbeaten winning all of its matches by very comfortable margins.

Canadians were also again among the tournament’s top performers in both batting and bowling. Canada’s wicket-keeper-batsman Srimantha Wijeyeratne was third on the rankings of the tournament’s highest run-scorers with 151 runs from 4 innings batted for an average of 37.75.

Among the bowlers Kaleem Sana Ur Rehman outdistanced all others as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker. Sana’s 16 wickets were captured from just 27 overs bowled at an incredibly miserly economy rate of 2.82.
Canada’s emergence as Malaysia tournament winners and overall Challenge League A Championship victors has secured its progression to the next, penultimate stage of the 2023 ICC World Cup qualification process, its participation in the Namibia-hosted Qualifier to be held next March. Should Canada emerge as one of the top two teams from the Namibia hosted tournament it will then progress further to the final Qualifier to be held in Zimbabwe next July, the top four teams from which will go on to participate in the India-hosted 2023 World Cup.

With successful Canada Cup U17 and John Ross Robertson tournaments also being successfully staged it was overall quite an impressively good year for Canadian cricket.The only identifiable aspect of which can now rightfully be deemed as bad was the staging of each and every one of the Ontario hosted international and national tournaments at the embarrassingly decrepit and unsuitable King City located Maple Leaf Cricket Club.

With so many other turf-wicket equipped facilities now available, especially in the far more conveniently accessible cities of Brampton and Mississauga, it was a major disservice to the further development of Canadian cricket for each of those tournaments, and particularly the ICC Challenge League A six nations championships, to be held at King City’s remote, largely inaccessible and wholly inadequate Maple Leaf Cricket Club.

If King City’s hosting of the said tournaments can be deemed to be identifiable as what was “Bad” for and about Canadian cricket in 2023 then the Maple Leaf Cricket Club’s highly embarrassing lack of the basic resources commonly associated with hosting National and international multi-team championships can similarly now be classified as that which was downright ugly! From the lack of even a basic public address system that would have allowed the audible playing of the national anthems of participating teams to having sufficient numbers of ground staff available to cover the pitches whenever rain intervened as it almost always does during matches played in the rain-belt located King City, the absence of required resources was majorly embarrassing.

Hopefully this year’s embarrassments, as colossal as they were, will nevertheless serve to ensure their non-repetition to any extent whatsoever in 2023. As such if and when the time comes for there to be a similar 2023 review as this has been for 2022, there will be even more to report that was good, very little that was discernably bad and absolutely nothing that could in any way possible be labeled as ugly.
Here’s to an even brighter 2023 for Canadian cricket and for the National Men’s team to go all the way to successful qualification for the 2023 ICC India-hosted World Cup.

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