Canada's John Davison is, fittingly, to take his final bow as an international player for Canada against Australia. His efforts in the 2001 ICC Trophy, staged in the Greater Toronto Area, helped Canada qualify for the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa. There, his whirlwind 111 in 76 balls against the West Indies raised his stature as a player. His century came from 67 balls and was part of Canada's first cricket world cup win against Bangladesh. He thumped 75 runs against New Zealand.
It was fitting that Davison was at the crease with the other survivor of Canada's 2003 campaign, Ashish Bagai, in the recent win over ICC Associate rivals, Kenya. It followed a narrow loss to Kenya in the 2003 Cricket World Cup and a really disappointing seven wicket loss to the Kenyans at the start of the 2007 CWC campaign in St. Lucia.
Canada rebounded with the bat in St Lucia by posting scores beyond the 200-mark against England and New Zealand. Davison chipped in with 22 against England and 52 against the Kiwis. Canada lost by 51 runs to England, but tallied 228 for 7 wickets. Asif Mulla top-socring with 58. The Kiwis surged to 363 for 5 wickets and Canada responded with 249. The top order batting was lead by Davison's 52, 40 from Geoff Barnett, 37 from Ashish Bagai and 50 from Ian Billcliff.
Davison learned life and people through Canadian experiences
Cricket Canada's official release says Davison announced his decision to his colleagues at a team meeting. "I've thoroughly enjoyed my time playing for Canada. I learned a lot about dealing with different cultural mentalities and I think that has made me more tolerant in my life;"
"The sport has an excellent future in the country centred around a young national team filled with talented young players, a burgeoning fan following, and an ever growing cricket playing population. I'm happy to have been part of the ride and have made some lifelong friendships along the way."
Canadian Pubudu Dassanayake paid tribute to John Davison's contribution to Canadian cricket. "He gave us a chance to win every time we took that field and took the game to the opposition, he brought on a new style of cricket for Canada...the exposure of our young players to his knowledge and experience has taught them how deal with competition at this level and this is invaluable to the organization moving forward."
Successes in the Intercontinental Cup
Davison and Dassanayake both played in a famous ICC Intercontinental Cup win over Kenya at King City, Ontario, in 2006 that gave hope for Canadian cricket. Davison took four catches in the match, and the double-D combination took five catches in the Kenyan first innings.
Davison followed with a fine innings of 165, his best in first-class cricket, as Canada posted a total of 588 in the next Intercontinental Cup match at King City against Bermuda. Ian Billcliff (128) and Abdool Samad (119) also hit centuries.
Davison's first-class debut for Canada was against the USA in 2004 at Brain Piccolo Park, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He made 84 in Canada's first innings total of 221, followed by a haul of eight wickets for 61 runs as the USA was bowled out for 136. Canada then made 145 before Davison hauled in a career-best nine wickets for 76 runs as the USA toppled for 126..A personal tally of 17 wickets in the match. Haninder Dhillon scored 69 in Canada's first innings.and Sunil Dhaniram 65 not out.
Ups and Downs of Canadian cricket
It often is a bumpy road in the world of Associates cricket. John Davison scored 145 runs, with a highest innings of 45 in helping Canada to the 2003 world cup via the 2001 ICC Trophy. He also took 15 wickets in this tournament.
But player availability and financial reasons can mean limited or no time for warm-up matches ahead of major tournaments. Indeed, I knew by the time I took a personal trip to see Canada in a 2006 Tri-Series tournament at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago that my days with the Canadian Cricket Association were likely numbered. But whatever I experienced was nothing compared with some of the expectations and events that occur on the field in the public glare. Even when there might not be too many people at a game.
One of the CCA leaders had commented at a Toronto and District league pre-season meeting on how Bermuda had been losing matches and using some new players. At the time I thought, but at least they are playing.
Well, given the lack of a warm-up match, not to mention a significant rise in temperature, Canada did well to restrict Zimbabwe, who had just played an ODI series against the West Indies, to 218 for eight wickets in 50 overs. The Canadian response differed greatly from the 2007 CWC top four batsmen scoring between 37 and 52 (Davison, remember) against New Zealand.
Two early run-outs saw Canada on 2 runs for two wickets from 2.2 overs. After 4.5 overs it was an even, in one sense, 4 runs for 4 wickets. But a monumental disparity in the cricketing sense. But what, I thought from a lofty perch, can you expect, given the background circumstances. It will have been the first game together for some of the top four that day, including Geoff Barnett and Stuart Heaney. Canada recovered, to a certain extent, to reach 75.
Davison made 22 at the top of the Canadian innings against Bermuda a couple of days later, but it took some resistance from George Codrington to carry Canada to 157 off 49 overs. Things were going quite well with the ball until a rain delay that knocked 5 overs off the Bermuda innings. Some behind the scenes logistics that delayed the printing of the D/L run requirements seemed, from my position, to cause a longer break than necessary. Bermuda's batting gained some spark from Dean Minors (46 not out) and Lionel Cann (32 not out). So Canada would not qualify for the tournament final. And a personal hope of being able to send back news of Canadian cricketing wins from the Caribbean dissolved.
All the best to JD
And so, the final appearance as a player looms for John Davison. I wonder if the spirit of David Shepherd, a former Gloucestershire cricketer, more known for his skills as a leading and well respected ICC Umpire, could look kindly down from the heavens and see JD to a personal best with the bat? It might be unlikely. Certainly against the odds. Umpire Shepherd always kept one leg off the ground when someone was on "nelson", 111. John Davison's career-best score.
You have to have hope, faith, courage, and gain a thick skin to survive on the ICC Associates cricketing stage. JD made 4 not out from the one ball he faced to help seal the win over Kenya a few days ago. So 25 such shots bring up the century....then a mere 3 boundaries to reach 112.
Best wishes and thanks to JD for his efforts on behalf of Canada, and Associates cricket. Perhaps the Ides of March might strike the Aussies a day or two late.