By Ravi Madholall
Many avid fans would have seen some exhilarating performances at the recently concluded inaugural Global T20 Canada at Maple Leaf ground, King City, Toronto, but not much from the talented Nitish Kumar.
His presence in the tournament though was a lifetime memory for the Canadian skipper and more prestigiously rubbing shoulders with several global distinguished players especially Australian Steven Smith.
Kumar, an elegant right-hander, who also bowls off-spin, featured in all six matches for Toronto Nationals. Despite the star-studded line-up and one of the pre-tournament favorites, the Nationals could not advance to the Qualifier stage.
The side was led by West Indies successful T20 captain Darren Sammy but Kumar says there were abundant positives that he would have definitely taken out from those matches.
“I [am] delighted to play in the Global T20; it was a great experience and I will remember it for a long time; we had a good team but that showed how competitive the tournament was,” Kumar stated.
The six-team competition began on June 28 and ran until July 15 when Vancouver Knights defeated Cricket West Indies ‘B’ team by seven wickets. They pocketed US$500, 000 and a silver trophy. Kumar batted five times registering 102 runs with a highest score of an attractive 46, inclusive of a 150 strike-rate.
Quizzed about the things Cricket Canada can take out from this tournament being the national leader, the 24-year-old responded: “I think it was great for Canada cricket generally; we have to be thankful for the opportunity and more importantly playing alongside quality cricketers from around the world.”
Thus far his representation for Canada on the international scene has been impressive having made his debut against Afghanistan in Dubai since 2010 as a teenage and according to him, he is more motivated now to make bigger impressions.
“I learned a lot from the tournament; it was competitive as I said and you want to play competitive cricket on a consistent basis, it will help me personally and Canada cricket in general; we look forward now to represent Canada with more determination and success because of playing in the Global T20,” Kumar related.
The tournament’s chief sponsor Mercuri has signed a 25-year deal with Cricket Canada and they promised to help Cricket Canada in various ways for the team to succeed on a more regular basis. Historically, Canada had participated in previous International Cricket Council 50-over World Cup on four occasions but their last appearance was in 2011. Since then the Canadians have not been able to qualify and again they are set to miss out at next year’s event which will be held in England.
“We definitely can’t look in the past, we are thankful for the Global T20 and we have to keep moving forward; Canada have got good talents and I am confident we will get back to the top by taking part in World Cup tournaments,” Kumar mentioned.
Even though it was the first major T20 tournament in Canada, Kumar had played at the other established T20 tournaments including the annual Caribbean Premier League. Kumar represented St. Lucia Zouks but hasn’t been selected in this year’s tournament which starts in early August.
“It was also wonderful to play in the Caribbean Premier League too; the experience was also fantastic and I learned a lot as well,” Kumar declared.
Toronto Nationals side, which was coached by former West Indies player and coach Phil Simmons, had two other Canada players and they are are: Nikhil Dutta and Mohammad Naveed. Apart from Smith and Sammy as high-profile players, the squad included Pakistanis Kamran Akmal and Mohammed Sami and Australian Anton Devcich to say the least.