Canada is said to be one of the first two nations to have played an international game way back in the mid-19th century. Their opponents were USA. However, for long, they weren’t a part of the main fold before making a comeback in 1979 when they qualified to play in the World Cup. They had an abysmal tournament and did not qualify again till the 2003 tournament. Since then, they have been regularly been in the top six sides outside the ten Test playing nations. Their issue is that the sport is not a popular one in their country where the climate is extremely cold and unsuited for the game.
Given that they had the ODI status afforded to them after they had qualified for the 2007 World Cup, Canada had a direct qualification to the final 12 stage of the qualifiers. Four of these 12 were to get to the World Cup and Canada won four of their five first round games to qualify for the Super Eight stage of the qualifier. This was followed y shocking losses to UAE and Holland and yet, due to some other surprising results, Canada managed to finish in the top four to get through to the World Cup. Canada ended runner-up in that tournament.
Canada’s batting is their biggest strength. If John Davison plays, he could provide them with another dimension at the start of the innings with his ability to tonk the ball hard.
The bowling is not the strongest for Canada and even at minnow-level cricket, the opposition had a merry time against them.
Canada are in the stiffer of the two groups and a win over Netherlands is what they can hope for at best.
Unfortunately for the Canadian side, playing in the Indian sub-continent will be a whole, new experience given that they would need to handle more spin in the tournament than they would have done in their entire careers. And that would be their biggest threat.
In the 1979 edition of the World Cup that Canada played in, they were routed. Pakistan beat them by eight wickets, Australia crushed them by seven, but most importantly, they were blown away by England – bowled out for 45, which remained the lowest total in World Cup cricket years. They re-qualified in 2003 and had a much better time – they beat Bangladesh and had Davison scoring what was then the quickest ever century in World Cup cricket. However, in 2007, they struggled to get going and lost all their three games – to Kenya, New Zealand and England.
Ashish Bagai has been doing well as a wicket-keeper captain and will look to continue leading the side in the 2011 World Cup as well.
Apart from Bagai, it is Rizwan Cheema who will be a player to watch out for his all-round strengths. Cheema, it must be remembered was on the long list of IPL probables for the third edition of the tournament.