By Varun Desai
On January 18, 2020, when Varun Sehdev received
his second T&DCA Cricketer of the Year award,
hopes flew high for cricket enthusiasts in Canada
that 2020 would prove to be outstanding. That it was
indeed, only in a manner far different than anyone would
ever have imagined!
During the month Canada had also registered its first
victory at South Africa hosted ICC 2020 U- 19 World Cup
against Japan. Wicket-keeper –batsman Nicolas Manohar
scored an impressive 101 to help Canada defeat Japan
by a massive 182 runs. Seamer Akhil Kumar picked up 6 for
46 and dismantled Japan’s U-19 squad.
.
“There is a lot of talent in Canada,” comments
SanjayThuraisingam of Actionzone and coach of Centurion
Cricket Club, who has been instrumental in clinching a
win for his club at the TDCA T20 championship. So far, four
players under his coaching have represented Canada in
the U19 World Cup.
Thuraisingam’s thoughts match that of Ranjit Chaudhri,
Director, Cricket Canada .” CC needs a full- time qualified
coach who will not only look after coaching aspect but also
act as a mentor, strategist and visionary to help CC
Board and players to take Canada to its deserving
ODI status, World Cup qualification, ICC ranking
improvement, help our youth & high performing
players to strengthen the bench strength and be
ready to step into national sides. “
January 2020 had also witnessed Cricket Canada’s
announcement of its Men’s Senior Team Squad
for the Malaysia hosted 2020 International Cricket
Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup Challenge
League A. The tournament was to be apart of the
qualification process for the 2023 ICC World Cup.
.The going was great, and then suddenly, a bunker
of physical and emotional isolation entrenched the
world in the form of COVID-19.
“We were a day away from boarding our flight to
Malaysia for the WCL challenge, a day before it
was postponed due to COVID,” recalls Srimantha
Wieyeratne,ex-captain, wicket-keeper and
batsman from Centurions Cricket Club.
Cricket Ontario had to cancel youth and women development camps. “Our member leagues also had a shorter
and reduced games program to meet the demand to play cricket in a competitive environment with modified
COVID19 rules in place that met the Province COVID19 Guidelines or have had to cancel the season.,” narrates
Shah Zafar.
Following suit, Scarborough Cricket Association suspended all its
events in response to COVID -19. New Brunswick KV Cricket Club
2020 MAD cricket initiative was also postponed indefinitely.
On April 3, 2020, the City of Toronto announced the closure of many
facilities services and programs to help slow the rate of COVID- 19
infections.
.
There were, however, some Canadian stars were still shining,
providing as they did faintly glimmering shards of consolation amidst
the ever increasing doom and gloom.
In May, Wanganui all-rounder Akash Gill was named the Hawke
Cup player of the year in the Central Districts Cricket Awards in New
Zealand. In 2018, Akash Gill had created national cricket history in
becoming the very first Canadian to ever score an ICC U19 World
Cup century.
Back here at home, Varun Sehdev played a short but significant
season in Brampton-Etobicoke District Cricket League (BEDCL).
Sehdev made 3 centuries in three games (127, 123* and 104) and
scored 442 in 6 innings averaging 88.40 and took 13 wickets.
Humbled and satisfied with his performance and Cricketer of the
Year award Sehdev states,
By Varun Desai
WICKETS 26
“It was a very proud moment. I am not sure how many
players in the history of TDCA got this award twice,”
In June, there was also the most welcoming of Cricket
Canada’s election of a new President, Rashpal Bajwa.
Bajwa’s presidential acclamation resulted from the lastminute
withdrawal of the incumbent Ranjit Saini’s bid for
re-election. Farhan Khan was elected as Secretary and
Amjad Bajwa as Director. As President, Secretary and
Directors respectively, Rashpal Bajwa, Farhan Khan,
Amjad Bajwa and Mohammed Sheikh joined present
Treasurer Charles Pais and Directors At Large Ranjit
Chaudhri and Harjinder Dhillon as Members of Cricket
Canada’s Board of Directors for the current fiscal year.
David Liverman was also subsequently appointed as
Vice President to complete the Board’s formation.
.
There was even firther good news for the Canadian
cricket community when in July, Canada’s hardhitting
batsman Ravinderpal Singh, was drafted by the
Colombo Kings as one of its overseas players for the
ongoing 2020 Lanka Premier League (LPL). Singh was
with top cricketing stars, like Angelo Mathews, Faf du
Plessis, Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Andre Russell and Liam
Plunkett. Cricket Canada President congratulated Ravi
Singh’s selection with a congratulatory note.
“Ravi Singh’s Colombo Kings’ LPL 2020 Draft Selection,
coupled with that of Saad Bin Zafar’s St Lucia Zouks
Caribbean Premier League participation earlier this
year is further evidence of international cricket’s
realization and appreciation of Canada’s possession of
world-class cricketers who are fully capable of playing
with and against the very best in the world!”
Bin Zafar reminisces fondly,” Getting picked in CPL was
a pleasant moment for me. It always feels great
when you get picked in a competitive
league at the highest level. It was an
invaluable experience sharing the
dressing room with players like Darren
Sammy, Mohammad Nabi, Andre
Fletcher and coaches like Andy
Flower and Donovan Miller. As a
team, we did really well in the
competition and finished 2nd.”
More honours followed The
USA Cricket Hall o f F a m e i s
a body that recognizes
those individuals who
played the game at the
highest level and those
who commit themselves
to the promotion and
preservation of the ideals
of cricket. Guyana-born
Praimnauth ‘Praim’ Persaud,
currently the Vice President
of Cricket Ontario, received this coveted award.
Persaud has been a player and administrator for the
past 45 years and continues to do so at various levels.
In October, Cricket Canada started initiatives to
prepare the organization for a resumption of national
cricket. Cricket British Columbia, Manitoba New
Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island & Quebec followed suit.
“We hope that things will be normal, and we will have
the full season of activities and interest of participation
will remain high as we have a long list of activities
planned for 2021 season,” maintains an optimistic
Shah Zafar.
Players, too, are eagerly awaiting the 2021 season.
“I’m sure cricket Canada is doing its best for us to
be safe for now and trying to organize more cricket
in Canada and hoping to bring more cricket for 2021,
the best would be the one I am looking forward to is
GT20 to happen 2021, says Shahid Ahmadzai.
“We plan to select the best available, qualified,
physically fit and committed players and provide
them with necessary support and skill development
avenues so that they are ready to represent Canada
at international events whenever the opportunity
arrives...the preparations for the 2021 season will start
with winter training and provide outdoor competitive
cricket as soon as the Canadian weather permits.
Besides, the board is also in consultation with other
international associate countries to have a tour for
Canadian nationals teams during the Canadian
winter months. Of course, the safety of players and
staff will be of paramount importance to the CC
Board,” shared Chaudhri.
As this article goes online, some more
feathers have been added to Cricket
Canada’s hat. The 2022 T20 World
Cup Qualification Process has
confirmed. That Canada will host
Men’s T20 World Cup Americas
Qualifier Canada between 17
- 23 July, 2021
Cricket Canada’s mantra
“Keep calm and bat on”
indeed enabled its members,
players, administrators to go
through the bleak times and
got them to a much better
place