By Nita Balani
TORONTO: After being plagued by a rainy summer season, King City Maple Leaf cricket grounds once again greeted the Netherland visitors with more rain.Both the Canadian and Netherlands team spirits were dampened by rain but the matches were not totally washed out.
Despite damp conditions, delayed starts, and curtailed overs, in the 4-day match from Aug 22- 24 Canada managed to maintain the upper hand with an 8 wicket lead, scoring a whopping 436 runs in the first innings (Netherlands 164 all out).The main batting highlights being Gunasekara’s unmatched 150 runs, Salman Nazar’s 60, Hansra and Daesrath each contributing 53 and 46 respectively to the grand total.
In the first World Cricket League game, delayed start and reduced overs to 28 meant limited play. The Netherlands were dismissed for 143 with Canadian debutant Kamyuka taking 4 major early wickets and Jeremy Gordon’s powerful pace bowling claimed 2 wickets. Daesrath took an excellent catch in deep field off Junaid Siddqui’s bowling. At one point Netherlands were just 49 for 5 off 11 overs. However, tall and lanky batsman Cooper saved the day by stepping in with his powerful batting and put up a strong front with his 74 off 59 balls.
The Canadians began with a poor response with Gunasekara gone early for duck, Patel and Kumar came on to carry on the score to 62 when rain stopped and called off the match.
However, what happened in the second One Day International, can only be attributed to an evil damp wicket due to heavy overnight rains. Canada failed to keep the promise it had shown in the 4-day match and suffered a painful-to-watch loss to the Netherland gods. They were all out for an unbelievable total of 67.
At one point in the game they were a shocking 7 runs for 5 wickets with 4 wide balls. The ball flying all over proved to be difficult to make contact with and when it occasionally did, it seemed for the worse with the loss of another brave batsman. The wicket proved extremely damp and difficult. With ample overs in hand, the Canadian strategy should have been to try and defend until the moisture dried out a bit more as the sun came out and the overs progressed. But shamefully the star Canadian batsmen all tumbled for a row of ducks. Patel bowled by the second ball for duck and then Kumar being caught behind in the same over also for no runs. Gunasekera tried his best but was called out by the umpire under dubious circumstances for single digit score. Raza-ur-Rehman followed suit with his contribution of a duck and Hansra joined his Canadian team on the bench for no run.
By the end of the fifth over play was being ruled by the Netherland’s bowling god, Van der Gugten who had taken five wickets with the addition of Bagai, who was also caught unawares behind the wicket. The scoreboard looked absolutely embarrassing at 10 for 6 wickets much to the disbelief of all present. Canada clearly needed a hero and a saviour which came to some extent in the form of Daesrath and Junaid Siddiqui who took the total forward to 44 before Siddiqui was caught. Debutant partner Kamayuka failed to be a suitable partner for Daesrath to take the game further and he faced just 2 balls before being called out. Baidwan managed to stay and make 7 runs but failed to provide the much needed companionship to demi-god Daesrath who succumbed to the bad luck making 31 out of the 67 total which Canada had managed to rack up. Netherlands breezed through easily chasing only 68 runs with Myburgh making 50 and ended with a magnificent sixer to end the game early. The Canadian game was too painful to watch after not being able to keep up to its promises.
The tournaments were also fraught with problems of criticism over the King City grounds and extremely poor conditions, maintenance and organizational issues. So much so that Netherlands had filed a formal complaint with the ICC prior to the start of the ODIs according to CricketEurope. The complaint was based on failure to provide internet facilities to media and failure to provide a live video stream as is the usual practice.
But the main focus of the complaint was King City grounds itself; despite being proclaimed as a international facility, it clearly fails to meet international standards. The outfield was sodden almost throughout and in places practically submerged, prompting Netherlands team manager Ed van Nierop to label it “the worst ground he had ever seen worldwide.” KNCB Chairman Jaques Mulders remarked “the field was either not, or was not satisfactorily prepared. On a decent ground we could have begun much earlier following the rain.”
The fact that King City has been the cynosure of international criticism is not new and it has been noted to be ill prepared and ill maintained which render it unfit for play with even less significant amounts of rains as the underlying cause is the old and failing drainage systems. Canada clearly needs to find a solution to this aging problem plaguing it from being upfront on the international stage. Cricket Canada needs to get past its petty organizational problems and find a solution quickly to a new facility if it wants to in fact be in any future international arena. Though one must say hats off to the Canadian Team for getting past this and putting their best pad forward to face the balls that come hurtling their way with great sportsmanship. Here’s one for Team Canada and wishing them all the best in their international endeavors!
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