Canada and Kenya may be the two minnows in a Group C featuring England and New Zealand, but they will both fancy their chances of beating the other in St Lucia’s first match of the World Cup proper at the Beausejour Cricket Ground here on Wednesday.
Four years ago Kenya defeated Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, on their way to the semifinals while, at the same World Cup, Canada beat Bangladesh by a crushing 60 runs in Durban.
The 2003 tournament also saw Canada’s John Davison score the fastest century in World Cup history, off 67 balls, when he smashed the West Indies attack all around Centurion.
Davison, formerly of South Australia, has been playing club cricket for the past two years but Canada do have a current first-class cricketer in left-handed batsman Geoff Barnett, who spent the 2006-07 season appearing for New Zealand’s Central Districts.
Pace bowler Austin Codrington, whose five for 27 did the damage against Bangladesh in South Africa, is again involved, while Canada’s squad also featured 40-year-old former West Indies quick Anderson Cummins.
“As a team we talk about beating Kenya and to be competitive against England and New Zealand,” said Canada captain Davison, also an off-spinner. “We played Kenya recently and won one and lost one,” said Davison, who is also a useful off-spinner.
Kenya, whose march to the semifinals four years ago was aided by the refusal of New Zealand to play in Nairobi, because of security fears, are captained by the experienced Steve Tikolo and coached by former West Indies off-spinner Roger Harper.
Tikolo, a stylish batsman is appearing in his fourth World Cup, and Kenya will also hope for more heroics from leg-spinner Collins Obuya, whose five for 24 inspired that shock victory against the mighty Sri Lanka.
Only two teams will qualify for the second round Super Eights with England and New Zealand, both fresh from recent wins over world champions Australia, favoured to fill those slots.
But the Kenyans refuse to be counted out for now and given their startling history of upset wins in the mega-event and the big-match temperament of several of their players, this could well be a team to watch out for.
Tikolo said as much. “We just had a tournament in Nairobi where we won the World Cricket League so we have momentum coming into this tournament,” he said, adding that they were looking at their first match to get off to a flier.
“We’ll be looking to try and win against Canada and then get a win against one of the two Test-playing countries,” he said. “In this game anything and everything is
Kenya (from): Steve Tikolo (captain), Rajesh Bhudia, Jimmy Kamande, Tanmay Mishra, Collins Obuya, David Obuya, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Thomas Odoyo, Peter Ongondo, Lameck Onyango, Maurice Ouma (wk), Malhar Patel, Ravi Shah, Tony Suji, Hiren Varaiya.
Canada (from): John Davison (captain), Ashish Bagai (wk), Geoffrey Barnett, Umar Bhatti, Ian Billcliff, Desmond Chumney, Austin Codrington, George Codrington, Anderson Cummins, Sunil Dhaniram, Ashif Mulla (wk), Henry Osinde, Abdool Samad, Kevin Sandher.
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pak) and Peter Parker (Aus). TV umpire: Billy Doctrove (WI). Reserve: Rudi Koertzen (SA).