Home preparations completed for Canada’s 2014 ICC Under-19 World Cup squad
by Edward Norfolk

Event:ICC Under-19 World Cup 2013/14

DateLine: 7th February 2014


The Canadian squad is due to leave Toronto on Thursday evening (February 6, 2014) bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to participate in the 2014 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. The young Canadians have just completed a week of indoor fitness and practice sessions at the indoor cricket facilities of Sorkkam in Scarborough (Ontario) and Yashi Sports in North York (Ontario).


Two warm-up matches are scheduled before Canada’s opening group game against Zimbabwe on February 14 in Abu Dhabi. Two days later the Canadian juniors face South Africa, then on February 18 comes the closing group match against the West Indies. Several of the Canadian squad have experience against the leading West Indian juniors as a result of playing for an ICC Americas team in the 2013 West Indies Regional Under-19 championships.


The warm-up phase sees Canada face New Zealand’s juniors on February 10, followed by a match against Papua New Guinea on February 12.


Injury has resulted in one late change to the Canadian squad. Gurkaran Dhillon (British Columbia) has withdrawn due to injury and has been replaced by Vasu Shah (Manitoba). Both players were members of Canada’s Under-19 squad that won the ICC America’s Regional Under-19 Championship in 2013. Shah is a right-hand batsman and wicketkeeper.


Nitish Kumar and Nikhil Dutta recently spent about a month in New Zealand as part of Canada’s senior squad in the recent ICC World Cup Qualifier. Nitish Kumar will captain the Canadian Under-19 squad in the UAE. Both Kumar and Dutta played for the Canada senior team against Kenya in the UAE during the early part of 2013 in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and in ODI games. Nitish Kumar scored a century in a warm-up game in New Zealand and had some success with the bat and some with the ball in the course of the senior World Cup Qualifier. Although this proved a disappointing competition for Canada who ended in eighth place. A situation that leaves Canada on the outside of the upper ranks of ICC Associate countries for at least the next four years.


Qualified as ICC Americas Under-19 Champions
Canada qualified for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup by winning the ICC Americas Regional Division 1 championship in 2013. Heavy rains had a major impact on the tournament, reducing from a double round robin event to a single round robin set of games. Canada beat the USA by five wickets, then provided some solid batting in a 91 run win against Bermuda to seal the regional championship.


Canada scored 245 for six wickets from 50 overs against Bermuda with six of the top seven batsmen in the order making individual contributions of between 24 and 64 runs. Armaan Kapoor struck a fine 64 from 58 balls batting a number five. Opener Stephan Joseph made 30, Nitish Kumar notched 35, Nikhil Dutta made 29, Talhar Shiekh made 31, featuring in a fifth wicket stand of 98 with Kapoor, and Trevor Manoosingh clipped 24 not out in the closing overs. Nikil Dutta followed with three wickets for 19 runs from ten well bowled overs while Abrash Khan took two for 25 from nine overs.


Nikhil Dutta won the Player of the Tournament Award. He picked up five wickets for 21 runs from 8.2 overs with his offspin in the opening game against the USA, who made 158 all out from 46.2 overs. Abraash Khan took two for 38 from ten overs. Sudeepta Aurka made a quick 24 from an opening stand of 34 for Canada. His fellow opener Stephan Joseph picked up 29 runs but was out during a mini-collapse as the team went from 72 for one to 78 for four in the space of three overs. Nikhil Dutta and Talha Sheikh regained control with a fifth wicket stand of 68. Sheikh was out for 22, while Dutta carried Canada to a victory by five wickets with 55 not out and almost ten overs to spare.


Juniors Experience from 2013 CIBC National Cricket League
Several of the Canadian junior squad played in the 2013 CIBC National Cricket League, and some had played in the 2012 National Cricket League. Vice-captain Amaan Kapoor and Talha Sheikh played for Eastern Fury, Sudeepta Aurka and Farhan Malik played for Western Stallions, Nikhil Dutta and Stephan Rajasingham played for Central Shield and Trevor Manoosingh and Vasu Shah played for Prairie Fire. Amanpal Gillar and the now injured Gurkaram Dhillon both played for Pacific Edge.


The National Cricket is based on five regions of cricket development in Canada with high performance players allocated to each region and two talented junior players to provide a competitive balance. There are separate 50 over and 20 over tournaments under the overall National Cricket League umbrella.


Canadians involvement with ICC Americas in West Indies Regional Under-19
Eight of the Canadian squad played for the ICC Americas Under-20 team in the 2013 West Indies Regional junior championships. Talhar Sheikh scored 53 against the Windward Islands U19's, taking part in a fourth wicket stand of 118 with Bermuda’s Tre Manders. Farhan Malik scored 21 in this game that ended in a tie. Malik’s left-arm spin bowling captured three wickets for 31 runs against the Windward Islands and four for 24 against Jamaica. Stephan Rajasingham took three for 18 and Abraash Khan three for 24 in ICC Americas win against the Leeward Islands. Stephan Joseph, Sudeepta Aurka, Arman Kapoor and Trevor Manoosingh were the other Canadian players in the ICC Americas squad in this tournament.


Schools Cricket contributes to player development
The existence of various school cricket tournaments has helped and nurtured the development of many junior cricketers in Canada. Some events have historically run in by or in association with school authories, including competitions such as the Toronto and District Schools outdoor cricket championships, and competitions run by the likes of the Alberta Schools Cricket Association and the Manitoba Cricket Association.


More recently junior tournaments and overseas cricket tours have been developed that brought the corporate and media world more prominently into the sport. The City of Toronto’s Parks and Recreation Division worked with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to establish an annual schools cricket tournament, that now includes girls teams as well as two age groups for boys. An annual "Cricket Across the Pond" tour to the United Kingdom for cricket coaching and to play local club teams also stemmed from the City of Toronto/CIMA partnership, embracing various corporate sponsors and media support, as well as being assisted by the UK’s consular office in Toronto.


Some of the Canadian junior squad for this 2014 ICC Under-19 World Cup took part in the expanded CIMA Mayors CIBC Greater Toronto Area schools cricket tournament in 2013 and some took part in the RBC CIMA Mayors Cricket Across the Pond Tour. Abraash Khan made runs and took wickets while Aniket Joshi made runs in the 2013 RBC CIMA Mayors tour to London, England. Aniket Joshi featured in North Park senior boys capturing the first CIBC Greater Toronto Area final, where he appears named as Max Joshi. The Region of Peel Secondary Schools Athletic Association now operates an outdoor cricket championship in the fall that takes place in Markham. The Region of Peel Secondary Schools Athletic Association runs indoor cricket championships in the spring term that embrace schools from the cities of Mississauga and Brampton.


Private initiatives to find and develop young cricketers have certainly expanded through the increasing number of cricket academies, the traditional efforts of some academies and clubs, and the increase in the number of indoor cricket facilities, some of which are associated with cricket academies. Private efforts exist in Montreal while some of the eastern provincial cricket associations are attempting to restore and revive cricket.


It would be interesting to list the schools, clubs and/or academies and programs through which each of the current Canadian junior squad has emerged. Some have played at Under-15 and Under-19 at the provincial level, some at U-15 as well as U-19 at the national level in addition to those who have appeared in the 2012 and 2013 National Cricket League tournaments. But perhaps someone at the helm within the Cricket Canada Executive, with the support of various members of the Cricket Canada Board should be pushing out such a message.


Individual successes beyond Canada
In 2013 Nitish Kumar captained the Repton First XI in the English Schools cricket scene and lead the school to what is believed to be a record number of wins in a season. He scored a "superb hundred" of 137 against Oundle on May 4, followed by a "majestic performance" of 154 not out against the MCC on May 7. On May 18 Kumar scored 127 against Oundle in an innings described as "cautious initially" but with "a measure of class", overcoming the challenge of a moving ball in the early stages. All three innings lead to wins for Repton and his offspin lead to a major collapse by Free Forresters on April 18 in an early season victory. Free Forresters moved past the 50 mark without loss, then lost six wickets to Nitish Kumar’s bowling. He ended with eight wickets for eleven runs.


Manitoba’s Trevor Manoosingh had gained cricketing experience in Australia during 2012-2013 where he played six matches for the University of New South Wales. His best innings was 50 scored against Ranwick Petersham, a game in which he took six wickets for just twelve runs in Ranwick’s first innings with his leg-spin.


There are doubtless some other events and tournaments where some of the Canadian squad for this 2014 ICC Cricket World Cup have participated. There are a stack of votes of thanks that should be being given, but the best reward for some of those who have created and supported junior development in Canada, including former stalwarts no longer with us, would be for the players to perform well in the UAE.


Canadian Under-19 Squad for 2014 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup
Nitish Kumar (Ontario) RHB, OB - captain; Arman Kapoor (Ontario) RHB, RM - vice captain; Sudeepta Aurka (Alberta) RHB, LBG; Nikhil Dutta (Ontario) RHB, OB; Amanpal Gillar (British Columbia) RHB, RM; Stephan Joseph (Ontario) RHB, OB; Anikit Joshi (Ontario) RHB; Abraash Khan (Ontario) RHB, RM; Farhan Malik (Alberta) RHB, SLA; Trevor Manoosingh (Manitoba) RHB, LBG; Stephan Rajasingham (Ontario) LHB, LM; Yug Rao (Ontario) RHB, Wicketkeeper; Talha Shaikh (Ontario) RHB, RM; Keenen Tinto (Ontario) RHB, RMF; and Vasu Shah (Manitoba) RHB, wicketkeeper.


Head Coach: Ingleton Liburd; Assistant Coach: Sanjay Thuraisingham


Player Withdrawn due to injury: Gurkaran Dhillon (British Columbia) LHB OB


(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2014 Edward Norfolk)


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