Canada coach looks to overseas trio for Trinidad tri-series
The 14-member Canadian squad leaves Toronto on Sunday for Trinidad & Tobago to participate in a triangular One-Day International series involving Zimbabwe and Bermuda. With the exception of skipper John Davison and newcomers Stuart Heaney and Geoff Barnett who played in Australia and New Zealand respectively this season, the other 11 players have been confined to indoor training sessions over the winter.
New team coach Andy Pick is counting on the three overseas-based players to lead the way as Canada begins its build-up to next year's World Cup in the West Indies.
"Those three guys have got to be aware of their importance to the team and we will be looking to them to lead us," said Pick who arrived here last month. "Hopefully, if two of them can perform well in each game and the other players accept their responsibilities, we could have something to show at the end of the tournament.
Pick, who coached England in this year's Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, admits that Zimbabwe, which completes a seven-game One-day international series against the West Indies this weekend, will provide a formidable challenge for Canada.
"We have to be realistic," he added. "To beat Zimbabwe, if even we were going into the series having been playing outdoors, would have been quite a task. However, from what I have seen so far, the local players have natural talent and they are full of enthusiasm...It's going to be a difficult series, but we are going out there to win games."
Wicketkeeper/batsman Ashish Bagai, who missed last year's International Cricket Council (ICC) Trophy tournament for Associates in Ireland because of work commitments, returns to the national side that will play 21 One-day Internationals and three four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup matches in the next 10 months prior to the World Cup.
CCA selector Errol Townshend said this is the strongest team that would have been assembled for the one-week triangular series. He However is concerned about the lack of preparation.
"We retained the core of the squad that helped us qualify for the World Cup," he said. "We however did not have a coach for the entire winter and we did not play any practice matches outdoors before going to Trinidad. As a result, our players will be challenged to compete at the highest level."
Canada plays Zimbabwe on May 16 and Bermuda the following day. The top two teams in the round-robin series will meet in the final on May 20. All of the matches will be played at the Queen's Park Oval.