Canada derailed at Caribbean Twenty20
A strong start for Canada at the Caribbean Twenty20 tournament had expectations running high in the final two games against Barbados and Leeward Islands. But a forgettable performance by its batsmen in the first match and the most runs surrendered by its bowlers in the second left the Canadians eliminated.
Despite the poor showing, the competition played a vital role in the development of the young team and gave a taste of what to expect in the Indian subcontinent next month.
"[For] what we’re going to face in the World Cup —140 km/h pace, the quality bowling and fielding — this was a fantastic opportunity for them to go through the same situations," Pubudu Dassanayake, Canada's national team head coach told CBCSports.ca before boarding a flight back to Toronto.
"TV cameras [were] around, big crowds were out, so they got some fabulous experience going into the World Cup. I can't ask for [a] better preparation."
Without making excuses, weather and conditions of the pitch appeared to affect the team's performance when the tournament shifted to Barbados for the final two games, as rain caused a few delays.
Against Barbados, both teams were called off the field numerous times and, when Canada went up to bat, the constant breaks seemed to rattle its batsmen. Five of the first six batters were out without scoring any runs.
"I think the weather actually cost us the game because we’re a younger side," Dassanayake said. "We're not used to coming in and out every 10 to 15 minutes.
"That really affected us. I would say that’s the main reason we lost the game.
"Antigua's wickets [were] really suited for our bowlers and, when we came here [to Barbados], that extra bounce on the wicket our batsmen didn't handle properly. It's a totally different environment in Antigua than in Barbados."
Despite the poor outcome in Barbados, there were several positives shown by the team throughout the tournament.
From the first match, it was evident that bowling and fielding were an area of strength and team chemistry also appeared to be growing.
'Got onto another level'
"Overall, I'm happy with [the results], we were [on] top of our fielding, [the] batting came together in the last game and it was a decent bowling attack," Dassanayake said. "Within the team, it's really united.
"They enjoy the environment within the group and everybody really works hard. From this tour, we got onto another level and it's about getting to the next level in Dubai."
The squad will regroup in Toronto before heading to Dubai in two weeks for the final stage of World Cup preparation. In its last leg of training, Canada will be able to address some of the deficiencies shown at the Caribbean T20 — mainly its batting.
Only once during the tournament did Canada exceed the 130-run mark, waiting for the last game to break out for 142 runs in the losing cause to Leeward. In the match against Barbados, the team managed an embarrassing 29 runs after six overs with the loss of five wickets.
"[In] the batting department, we got to work a lot [while] in Dubai to improve," Dassanayake said. "I think the whole team is confident that they can compete at this level.
"And this tournament is not that far from the international level, so we've all built that confidence."
Along with improving its batting, the team needs to emphasize playing the entire match with a certain level of urgency.
"[There's] a lot of positives that can be taken from this tour," Dasssanayake said. "But it clearly showed that we need to get into winning mode.
"We have to do things to win games. Even though we do well in games, it's not enough.
"Now I want to concentrate on doing little things. When an important period comes during the game, we need to win those small battles, so we can win the game.
"That will be the area we concentrate on in Dubai."
One of the last concerns is the final roster to be fielded in the World Cup. After four games in the Caribbean, however, the lineup is all but settled.
"My lineup is set now," Dassanayake said. "We got a full picture of who's in form, who needs to work more.
"And I'm happy [because] almost everybody is in form. They know their roles."
Canada opens play at the Cricket World Cup against Sri Landa in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, on Feb. 20.