Strong performances by Canadian cricketers achieved key mandate of developing Canadian talent
Vancouver Knights’s victory Sunday in the Global T20 Canada (www.gt20.ca) championship match capped off a successful inaugural edition of the six-team league and provided glimpses of the potential of the first Twenty20 league to be fully staged in North America.
Played before a sellout festive crowd at Maple Leaf Cricket Club, the final, between Vancouver and Cricket West Indies B team, showcased the exciting Twenty20 form of cricket. On this stage, fittingly, a Canadian, Saad Bin Zafar made Canadian sporting history producing the performance of his career knocking in 79 runs to lead the Knights to the title, and the champion’s prize of C$500,000.
“Global T20 Canada brought the excitement of pro T20 cricket to Canada, along with many of the world’s top stars,” said Gurmeet Singh, Chairman, Global T20 Canada. “The final in front of a packed stadium and millions of fans watching via TV and streaming shows the sport’s potential not only in Canada, but also in North America, and we plan to achieve many more great milestones in future editions.”
Bin Zafar’s man of the match performance highlighted a strong showing by Canadians in the tournament, achieving one of the league’s key mandates of developing Canadian talent. Canada captain Nitish Kumar and Nikhil Dutta, the first Canadian selected in the Players Draft, also had strong performances earning acclaim from some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Australian Steve Smith. Overall, 31 Canadians participated, including many players on Canada’s national team, providing an opportunity to learn from some of the best playing and coaching talent in the sport.
Aside from the players, many stakeholders in the Cricket Canada community contributed to making the league’s first edition a success, despite the short runway to launch. “Global T20 Canada is a Cinderella story,” said Cricket Canada president Ranjit Saini. “Operations staff, volunteers and suppliers went out of their way to deliver an outstanding event to viewers. The management, staff and volunteers of Maple Leaf Cricket Club delivered world-class pitches with very limited resources.”
The strong Canadian performances came amid a star-studded field of talent – a major achievement for a new T20 league in an associate member country. Stars that participated included Smith, Chris Gayle, Daren Sammy, Lasith Malinga, Andre Russell and David Warner, among many others. Over 1,500 players from more than 40 countries expressed an interest in participating in the inaugural edition by registering for the Players Draft.
Global T20 Canada also was a preview for the future of cricket. Cricket West Indies B, comprised entirely of youth players from the Caribbean, impressed winning its first four matches on the way to a berth in the final. Justin Greaves, who twice won man of the match honours, Nicholas Pooran and Sherfane Rutherford had standout performances, with Rutherford recording the tournament’s only century.
Also, Hong Kong’s Babar Hayat and American Ali Khan captured attention with their strong batting and bowling performances, demonstrating the talent within associate member nations. In total, 19 associate member nations were represented in the rosters of the five franchise teams – Knights, Toronto Nationals, Montreal Tigers, Winnipeg Hawks and Edmonton Royals.
Looking ahead, league organizer, Mercuri Canada Ltd., will aim to build on these achievements for future editions. Planning is already underway with decisions to come over the coming months on league dates, markets, venues and other logistics.