The curtain comes down on Canada's 2011-2013 efforts in the first-class ICC Intercontinental Cup and the 50-over Pepsi ICC World Cricket League with the visit of the Netherlands. The 4-day Intercontinental Cup match against the Dutch is scheduled to start on Thursday (August 22), followed by ODI games on August 27 and 29. These games are scheduled for the Maple Leaf Cricket Club, King City, Ontario and with play due from 11 am each day. The ground is at the north-east corner of Dufferin and 15th Sideroad, King City.
There is limited seating provision at Maple Leaf CC, and parking space tends to fill on weekends when matches are scheduled on some of the other pitches. Those intending to vist Maple Leaf CC for any of the Canada-Netherlands matches may wish to bring their own chairs.
Jimmy Hansra will captain Canada in the four day match, and Ashish Bagai has been named captain for the World Cricket League ODIs. Raza-ur-Rehman and Salman Nasar are included in the Canadian squad for both the four day and ODI matches. Former Ugandan international Kenneth Kamyuka, who has played for several years in the Toronto and District Cricket Association, is included in the Canadian squad for the two ODIs. Cecil Pervez is included in the Canadian squad for the ICC Intercontinental Cup match.
At the start of August, heavy rain caused some flooding of the outfield at Maple Leaf CC, so Canada's ICC Intercontinental Cup game against with the UAE eventually started late on the second day, thanks to the work of the groundstaff. Pace bowler Jeremy Gordon gave Canada the chance of a win, despite the lost playing hours, taking six wickets for 43 as the UAE was bowled out for 116. Centuries from Nitish Kumar (103) and Damodar Daesrath (111) allowed Canada to declare early on the fourth day, but some missed catches allowed the UAE to secure a draw. UAE skipper Khurram Khan was able to steer his side to safety with an unbeaten 121.
Canada is currently last in the 2011-2013 ICC Intercontinental Cup standings, but an outright match win for Canada over both innings (14 possible points), plus a first innings lead (6 points) would push the Dutch into last place. Neither country is likely to be satisfied with a position near the foot of the standings, so it should be an interesting game.
Canada will be looking to improve on disappointing one-day game performances against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this month. The UAE won both World Cricket League matches at Maple Leaf CC, then won two CIBC International T20 games at the Toronto Cricket Club.
There were phases where Canada was going well with bat, ball or fielding, but the necessary overall consistency quality was missing. At the ICC Associates and Affiliates level some critical tournaments, such as World Cup Qualifiers, involve just one game against each opponent. This allows little room for error, off days or for days when the opposition excels. The World Cricket League format involves two games against each opponent, but the World Cup Qualifiers are a series of one-off round robin games, followed by a knock-out phase.
Ireland has already qualified for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup as a result of success in the 2011-2013 Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCL). The top two teams from the current WCL qualify automtatically for that 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. So with Ireland safe at the top on 20 points, there is a battle for second place and that second automatic spot in the next World Cup.
Entering this last round of WCL matches, the Netherlands, Scotland and Afghanistan each has 15 points, with the Dutch holding second place due to a better net run rate. The UAE are on 14 points, helped by the two recent wins against Canada, but the UAE would need the trio on 15 points to slip up in the last series of matches in order to place second. Beyond the Canada (3 points)-Netherlands (15 pts) pairing in this seventh and final round of WCL matches, the match-ups involve: Ireland (20 pts) v Scotland (15 pts); Afghanistan (15 pts) v Kenya (10 pts); and UAE (14 pts) v Namibia (4 pts). A WCL win brings 2 points, while a tie or no-result brings one point in the WCL. The Netherlands and Ireland had one tied match in the sixth round of matches ,but Ireland won the other match.
Canada's low points in the WCL mean Canada will travel to New Zealand in 2014 to participate in a ten team qualifier for the 2015 ICC World Cup. The six countries in the Pepsi ICC WCL Championship that end in positions three through eight will all be involved in that World Cup Qualifier. Before that, in November 2013, Canada participates in in the World T20 Qualifier in the UAE for next year's ICC World Twenty20 Championship.
These are very important competitions for Canada with a need to ensure the current ICC High Performance country ranking is maintained. But Canada's immediate priority is for quality and consistently high performances against the Dutch. High performances that need to involve some wins to provide momentum for the winter's qualifying competitions.
In one way, the curtain is coming down on Canada's 2011-2013 participation in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championships, but the real need is for the curtain not to close. Canada has put together a couple of good first innings scores in two Intercontinental Cup matches this year, and gained first innings lead points for the first time in the 2011-2013 in the game against the UAE. An outright win would be the way to end a rather unimpressive overall campaign as well as providing hope for the future.
A future that depends on success in the upcoming Twenty20 and 50-over World Cup qualifiers. Success that would be measured by a continued presence in the ICC High Performance program. A future for Canadian cricket that still shows promise with the presence of a Canadian side in next year's ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, but where the curtain needs to rise to see the Canadian men's side qualify for the 2015 ICC World Cup.
But the Netherlands will be keen to try and seal automatic qualification for that 2015 ICC World Cup in the coming days at Maple Leaf Cricket Club.
ICC Intercontinental Cup Squads - Canada v Netherlands
Canada Squad: Amarbir (Jimmy) Hansra (captain), Ashish Bagai, Harvir Baidwan, Damodar Daesrath, Jeremy Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Nitish Kumar, Usman Limbada, Salman Nazar, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Cecil Pervez, Raza-ur-Rehman and Junaid Siddiqui
Netherlands Squad: Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Barresi, Mudassar Bukhari, Daan Van Bunge, Tim Gruijters, Tom Heggelman, Vivian Kingma, Ahsan Malik, Paul Van Meekeren, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart and Eric Szwarczynski
Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship Squads - Canada v Netherlands
Canada Squad: Ashish Bagai (captain), Harvir Baidwan, Damodar Daesrath, Jeremy Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Amarbir (Jimmy) Hansra, Kenneth Kamyuka, Nitish Kumar, Usman Limbada, Salman Nazar, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Raza-ur-Rehman and Junaid Siddiqui
Netherlands Squad: Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Barresi, Mudassar Bukhari, Daan Van Bunge, Ben Cooper, Tim Gruijters, Timm Van Der Gugten, Ahsan Malik, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Edgar Schiferli, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart and Eric Szwarczynski