By Tony McWatt
Kudos of the highest order must now be extended to the players on
the Canadian National team for their outstanding performances
during the recently held Brazil-hosted 2022 South American Women’s
Championships. Canada’s ladies swept all that was placed before them, playing
unbeaten to emerge as most deserving tournament champions.
The Canadians almost all of the six matches they played on the tour
losing only to Brazil in one of their two warm-up fixtures before the actual tournament began. Once
tournament play had begun, the Canadians easily triumphed over Argentina and
Peru, as well as recording double victories over hosts Brazil.
The Canadians were superbly led by their outstanding, arguably world-class,
all-rounder captain Divya Saxena. With both bat and ball, Saxena led from the
front, setting a superlative example that was worthy of her teammates to follow.
And follow they did, as evidenced by the impressive batting performances of
Danielle Mcgahey, as well as the encouraging bowling of Achini Perera, Hiba
Shamshad and young Mannat Hundal among others.
The Canadians also featured in some of the end-of-tournament awards.
Saxena was adjudged to be the Tournament MVP, while Perera won the Most
Outstanding Fielder Award.
Head Coach Rizwan Cheema must also be highly commended for having
completed his very first assignment in his recently appointed new role with such
outstanding success. Cheema had demonstrated his coaching competencies
during the recently held Canadian National Women’s Championships. His
subsequent appointment to the Head Coach post would, therefore, not have
come as much of a surprise to anyone. It would have been nice though, for
the sheer purposes of encouraging more ladies to seriously consider cricket
coaching careers, for a member of the fairer sex to also have been appointed as
Cheema’s Assistant for the Brazil Tour.
According to the ICC’s recently announced plans for the further development
and promotion of Women’s cricket across the globe, there will be many more
international tournaments being staged in the foreseeable future, from as early
as next year. Canada’s lady cricketers will, therefore, be provided with plenty
of opportunities to test their skills and talents against opponents from other
countries. In that regard, it was encouraging to see the inclusion of several
teenage players such as Mannat Hundal, Rhea Misra and Rabbjyot Rajput
to the squad. Unfortunately for Rajput, encountered visa acquisition issues,
however, prevented her from actually making the tour.
The Canadian Women will now head into their winter training in preparation
for their participation in the America’s Qualification tournament for next year’s
ICC World Cup. As useful as the indoor training, under Cheema’s watchful
guidance, might prove itself to be, the squad’s preparation would be much
better served by actual match play opportunities against testing opponents.
A trip to any one of the Caribbean Women’s cricket-involved countries such
as Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana or Trinidad should, therefore, have been a
consideration. Perhaps there still may be time for such a tour to take place early
in the New Year.
Whether or not it does, here’s wishing our lady cricketers all the very best in
their future endeavours. Hopefully, the confidence and self-belief they should
have gathered individually and collectively as a result of their Brazilian Tour
triumphs will serve as a motivational catalyst that will allow them to prevail over
their America’s Qualifier opponents and progress to the ICC World Cup. That
would be a most wonderful and welcome occurrence indeed,