Canada's cricket team has been on the international scene since over 30 years now, but they're yet to make an impact. Will they get the cricket world to sit up and take notice at the 2011 World Cup? Canada's captain Ashish Bagai says the team's realistic goal is to reach the second round. Excerpts from an interview with Yahoo! Cricket:
Canada played their first CWC all the way back in 1979. Sri Lanka started at the 1975 event but went on to win the 96 edition and continue to be one of the top ranked teams. What do you think held Canada back?
I don't know really. I guess we had a lot of competition from other sports. In Sri Lanka cricket is the major sport. We in Canada are competing with ice hockey, baseball, football. This competition from other sports affects cricket in the country. We didn't have the infrastructure since 1979 for us to have something sustainable. I guess everything combined to contribute to it.
The Canadian team hasn't had a very successful 2010 including a disappointing show in the ICC World Cricket League – Division One. How is the team morale going into the WC?
It was a pretty poor 2010 by any standard, including our own. This summer we have had positive feedback from the guys. We have trained very hard. The coaching staff has done a phenomenal job with the squad. The fielding has improved and is one of our strong points. We had a good tour of India. We played some good cricket. We didn't win many matches. But it was a very successful tour with the bat for some of the guys. We then went to West Indies for Caribbean T20. There have been signs of improvement over the last six months. From my stand point we are confident going into the World Cup, as we are a well prepared unit.
This is Canada's fourth CWC. What are your expectations from this year's tournament? Do you think the Canadian team might be able to cause an upset?
As a team we discuss goals and what we want to achieve from World Cup. Our realistic goal is to get to the second round. That’s what we have set ourselves as a group goal. What we need is three wins in the first round. If we can register wins over Kenya and Zimbabwe and cause an upset in another game, we will get there.
The side has several players of Indian or Asian origin. Are they excited about playing such a big tournament in the sub-continent?
I think anybody going into this World Cup is excited about playing in the subcontinent. It is the new home of cricket. The people there are passionate, enthusiastic about the sport. Every team will be excited about playing in India and the region. It is an extra incentive for us as we have many players who trace their roots there. It will be pretty special to go back there and play in a World Cup.
Who are the players from Canada to look out for this time around?
This time we have a fairly young and inexperienced squad. But this young side has a number of talented players. We have a couple of batsmen who are looking good. Ruvindu Gunasekara, Hiral Patel have come through the system. Then there is a good left-arm spinner in Parth Desai. We also have John Davison who is coming back. A lot of people know from his exploits in the 2003 World Cup. Then there is Khurram Chohan who leads the attack. He swings the ball. We will be looking to him get some early wickets.