Is Canada set to be home to the latest big-name T20 tournament?

Canada may not exactly be renowned for their cricketing prowess (though John Davison was a more than handy player), BUT they may be the next of a rapidly growing list of countries hosting an annual domestic T20 competition of significant merit. The Global T20 Canada had it’s inaugural edition over the latter stages of June and the first half of July, and was able to draw some massive names.

Perhaps most noteworthy among them were former Australian captain Steve Smith and vice captain David Warner, both of whom were suspended for 12 months by Cricket Australia earlier this year for their role in the ball-tampering saga which plagued Australia’s tour of South Africa. These two were a big draw for the tournament, with both the extreme talent of the players plus the nature of their past six months meaning their performances were of significant interest to cricket fans around the world, particularly Down Under.

Smith was the better of the two, but his lack of practice was still evident throughout the tournament. He managed a 61 in the first game and a 55* in the the fourth, and though he averaged 33.4 runs per innings they came at the relatively sedate strike rate of 119.28 as his team bumbled their way to last place. 

Warner, as captain of the Winnipeg Hawks, found the going even more difficult. He managed a 42 and a 55 in his third last and second last innings’ respectively, but aside from that was unable to pass the grand total of 6 in his other six innings. He ended the tournament with 109 runs at an average of 13.62, and a strike rate of just 114.73. 

Aside from these two, there were plenty of other high profile names in the tournament. Many of these came from the West Indies, with the likes of Chris Gayle (who captained the Vancouver Knights), Darren Sammy (who captained the Toronto Nationals), Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, and Andre Russell, all suiting up in the tournament.

Of those players, it was perhaps Russell who best demonstrated what he could bring to the tournament. The big hitting Jamaican was dismissed just once in his six innings, totalling 185 runs at, of course, an average of 185. Even more impressive was his strike rate. He comfortably led all comers in this category, notching up his 185 runs at the incredible rate of 217.64 runs per 100 balls.

He also showed what he could do with the ball, picking up the seventh most amount of wickets in the tournament. He snared ten at an average of 23.9 and the reasonable strike rate of 8.48, including an impressive 3/17 effort against the Nationals. 

Pakistan were also particularly well represented at the tournament. Sohail Tanvir captained the Edmonton Royals, and was joined by fellow countrymen Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal, while Mohammed Hafeez and Kamran Akmal were among the other big names from Pakistan to enter the tournament.

Unfortunately these players all struggled enormously. Sohail Tanvir, as captain of Royals, managed just five wickets in his six games at an average of 33.6, while Shahid Afridi could only muster up 34 runs in his five innings at an average of 8.5. Regardless, the very presence of players of this caliber in a new tournament invariably adds to its legitimacy, and will likely help to draw more high quality players in the future.

Perhaps the biggest name to play in the tournament outside of the aforementioned was Lasith Malinga, who captained the Montreal Tigers. Malinga, one of the most dangerous T20 bowlers in the world, showed off his talent throughout the tournament to finish in third in total wickets, with the only two players to take more playing an extra two games. Malinga snared at least one wicket in all of his six matches, finishing the tournament with 13 at an average of 11.84 and the incredibly stingy strike rate of 6.41. Of players who picked up at least five wickets in the tournament, his average was the best and his strike rate the third best.

Few would have expected a Canadian T20 League to enter the world cricket scene and become a major player in the very congested domestic T20 calendar, but after the quality of names they were able to lure in just its first season, it appears that is likely to become the case. If they can replicate the level of cricket on show this year in its second season, if not better it, there is every chance that this league will continue to grow.