T20 cricket is the format of the game that is most likely to help globalize the game and we are about to witness another example of that. The inaugural edition of Global T20 Canada, a franchise based competition about to be held in Canada, is going to be played with some of the highest profile players in the world.
Normally, players of the caliber of Steve Smith and David Warner would not be playing this competition but the one year ban that they have been handed for international cricket has made them available. The curiosity surrounding their return is certain to attract a lot of attention to the tournament and that can only be a good thing.
There have been some false starts about bringing cricket to Canada but thankfully it looks like this tournament is going to be played for sure and may even become an annual fixture in the future. For the young players from Canada, this is the best opportunity that they will have to rub shoulders with international superstars and learn from them in a competitive environment.
There are 6 teams that will be competing in this tournament. 5 of them participated in a draft and picked their squad from the available pool of players while the sixth team will be a Cricket West Indies B team. A total of 22 matches will be played starting from June 28th to July 15th.
The tournament is following a slightly different format than the other T20 tournaments around the world. The first round of matches will be each team playing the others, so five matches for each team. A second round of matches will be played after this which will be between 1st and 6th, 2nd and 5th, and 3rd and 4th placed teams.
The teams' position after these two rounds of matches will determine the lineup of the playoffs. The 1st and 2nd place team will play the first playoff to directly reach the final while the 3rd and 4th place teams will fight to play the loser of the first playoff and make the finals.
Here are some of the bigger players that will be seen in the tournament, as well as a breakdown of the squads that have been announced.
The Nationals had the first pick of the draft and they chose to go with Darren Sammy. No disrespect to Sammy, who is a seasoned T20 player, but he is not the direction we would have gone in. maybe they were keen to lock up their captain and then pick the rest of the team.
They also managed to get Kieron Pollard, Kamran Akmal, Steve Smith, Johnson Charles, and two very good lesser known Pakistani picks in Hussain Talat and Rumman Raees.
There is obvious power in this team thanks to the presence of Pollard and Charles, although, we feel that their best T20 batsman is probably going to be Kamran Akmal.
Akmal had an excellent outing in the PSL and is knocking on the doors of Pakistani cricket once more. Hussain Talat is a very talented left-handed batsman who can maneuver the ball deftly and get the boundary stroke when required as well. Rumman Raees is a good left-handed fast bowler who could be among the wickets this season.
Rohan Mustafa from the UAE is also a highly rated cricketer and should be able to contribute to the team in a meaningful manner.
The bowling for the Toronto Nationals looks a little thin, to be honest. They have Ruman Raees, Usama Mir from Pakistan who bowls leg spin, and some other little-known cricketers.
Strengths: Good batting depth
Weaknesses: Lacking international quality in the bowling
Our Prediction: 4th
The Montreal Tigers chose Lasith Malinga as their first pick in the draft and while he is a great of the T20 game, he is easily past his best. Malinga is hardly playing any competitive cricket around the world so it will be interesting to see how his fitness holds up.
Unlike a lot of other teams, the Tigers have loaded up on bowling strength. They have Malinga, Narine, Sandeep Lamichhane, and Mohamad Hafeez in their squad. That’s three quality spinners to bowl the bulk of the overs. T20 cricket has started to move towards wrist spinners and mystery bowlers to help pick wickets so the Montreal Tigers are covered on that front.
They also have Dillon Heyliger, a promising fast bowler of West Indian origin now living in Canada, to back Malinga up.
We are also going to be very interested in seeing Mohamad Hafeez. He has had trouble with his action over the years but may be allowed to bowl in this T20 series. His batting has suffered a bit of a drop in recent times as he has struggled to keep the run rate up but should be a very potent force given the quality of bowlers going around in this league.
The Montreal Tigers will need Hafeez to lead from the front with the bat because he does not have too much star power for support. Sikandar Raza from Zimbabwe, Dasun Shanaka from Sri Lanka, Denesh Ramdin from the West Indies, George Worker from New Zealand, and Thisara Perera from Sri Lanka are all a part of the squad. This is not a bad T20 batting lineup but it definitely does not have the ‘big’ names that some of the other teams will be boasting.
The Montreal Tigers are an interesting team and built around the concept that bowlers win you more matches than batsmen. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Strengths: Among the best, if not the best, bowling lineups in the competition. Have some useful all-rounders.
Weaknesses: Batting looks a little thin. International batsmen present but none that can be counted among the T20 elite.
Our Prediction: 6th
The Edmonton Royals really went for the Pakistani players in the draft and came away with some excellent picks. Their first pick of the draft was Shahid Afridi, a man who has retired from international cricket but continues to be a force in every T20 competition that he plays.
Afridi’s batting is very unpredictable and we would be lucky to see two substantial innings but the threat of what he may do is reason enough to keep the bowlers on edge. Afridi’s real contribution comes with the ball where he picks wickets and is very difficult to score off. Conditions in Canada are expected to be good for batting but Afridi will still find a way to shine.
There are also Mohammad Irfan, the all left-handed fast bowler from Pakistan, and Sohail Tanvir who has now evolved into a hard-hitting all-rounder, to support the bowling. Wayne Parnell is another left-handed fast bowler capable with the bat that joins the Edmonton Royals squad.
The Royals have also managed to get plenty of power in the batting unit thanks to the inclusion of Chris Lynn, Luke Ronchi, and Christiaan Jonker from South Africa. It is scary to imagine what Lynn could do on small grounds, flat wickets, and some relatively easy bowling attacks up against him.
Ronchi, too, had an excellent PSL so he should be looking forward to putting on some fireworks fro the Canadian cricket loving crowd. The Edmonton Royals will also have the services of Shaiman Anwar, one of the best batsmen from the UAE, and Agha Salman, a street-smart all-rounder from Pakistan.
This is a team that should find a lot of support from the crowd thanks to the large Pakistani diaspora and because of the inclusion of Shahid Afridi in their team. They have most of the bases covered and are definitely going to be one of the more dangerous teams to watch out for.
Strengths: Terrific bowling lineup, batting studded with T20 specialists, plenty of power to call upon
Weaknesses: Some of the Pakistani players are not the swiftest in the field and so fielding might be compromised
Our Prediction: Winners
It is difficult to imagine a T20 tournament being played around the world without Chris Gayle there to help launch it. Gayle had a good IPL where he showed he was still capable of great things, just maybe not as consistently as before. We think that Chris Gayle is going to be a major force in this tournament, though, because he feasts on bowling that is mediocre and is smart enough to wait out the difficult bowlers.
He is joined by the West Indian T20player of the year, Evan Lewis, and perhaps the best T20 all-rounder in the world, Andre Russell. These are three legitimate match winners and ensure that the Vancouver Knights are not going to be short of six-hitting power in this competition. In fact, if two out of these three get going then the six count will jump up exponentially!
The squad has still more international quality in Tim Southee, Chadwick Walton, and Fawad Ahmed (Pakistani born leg spinner now playing as an Australian citizen).
Time Southee is a world-class performer with the ball while Fawad Ahmed brings a quality wrist spin option to the table as well. The surrounding cast around these players is a little thin, though. Sheldon Cottrell has international experience but the others lack much big match experience.
Jeremy Gordon is another West Indian born player who is now playing for Canada. He is supposed to be a good all-rounder that can hit the ball hard and bowl some medium pace. Canada will be hoping that he can prove his worth at this stage and possibly help the national team do better in the future.
The Vancouver Knights have some seriously talented cricketers but lack the small bits and pieces to balance out their squad. They will need their marquee players to have a big season or will struggle.
Strengths: Explosive six-hitting power
Weaknesses: Depth in the squad seems light in both batting and bowling
Our Prediction: 3rd
The Winnipeg Hawks started their draft with Dwayne Bravo as their first pick. It is an excellent option in our opinion especially considering the batting renaissance that Bravo is going through. He cleared the boundary consistently at the IPL and made match-winning contributions coming in late down the order.
His bowling is almost always on point, he is the leading wicket-taker in T20 history after all, and his slower balls are going to be very difficult to pick for batsmen that have not faced him before.
Bravo will be joined by other internationals like David Warner, David Miller, Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Ben McDermott, and Fidel Edwards.
This is a very strong batting lineup which will be led by Warner. The Aussie left-hander will be making a comeback into the limelight for the first time after the sandpaper saga and he will definitely have a point to prove. Easily among the best batsmen to play this format of the game, having David Warner on your side a huge plus.
Warner will probably be joined by Lendl Simmons at the top of the order. The West Indian batsman is an excellent T20 player and one that often does not get the credit he deserves. Warner and Simmons will be the opening partnership to watch out for in this tournament.
The Hawks have also packed their side with hitting power lower in the order thanks to the presence of Darren Bravo, Ben McDermott, and David Miller. While David Miller from South Africa will be well known to cricket lovers, Ben McDermott is an equally canny pick. The Aussie has shown his ability to clear the boundaries in Big Bash cricket and will certainly be looking to make the most of his opportunity.
While the batting looks very strong for the Hawks, their bowling is a little questionable. Fidel Edwards, Dwayne Bravo, and Rayad Emrit are the three recognized bowlers in this squad. Some lesser known players will have to step up and take the responsibility of getting through their overs without too much damage to the team.
Strengths: Strong batting unit, T20 specialists included in the team, plenty of power
Weaknesses: Bowling is a little thin with only three recognized bowlers in the squad
Our Prediction: 2nd
Cricket West Indies is an official partner of this tournament and is going to send an entire squad of young players to participate. Almost none of the players included in the squad are those that are close to making the West Indian team right now but have been identified as having potential for the future.
It will be interesting to see what kind of a team can West Indies put up because their talent pool is not the deepest either at the moment. The team, though, will be made of West Indian players only and that could be an advantage. We have seen many times in the past that teams with assembled superstars are not as effective as a low-key cohesive unit.
How cohesive this West Indies ‘B’ side is, though, is al up for debate! The highest profile cricketer in this lineup is Nicholas Pooran who has been playing the CPL and scoring plenty of runs. He will be the player that the youngsters will look to rally around. The team will be led by Anthony Bramble, another wicket-keeper batsman, who has been a part of the Guyana squad for quite some time now.
Guyana has won the domestic T20 competition in the West Indies for four consecutive years.
There are plenty of all-rounders in this squad that the West Indies will be keeping an eye on. Justin Greaves and Fabian Allen have attracted some attention in the Caribbean as possible international players while Kavem Hodge, Khary Pierre, and Sherfane Rutherford are all-rounders as well. Most of the bowlers can wield the bat too which should provide a relatively long batting lineup to the team.
Obed McCoy, Jeremiah Lewis, and Derval Green are the specialist bowlers in the squad. Two out of these three are likely to feature in most matches. The rest of the overs are going to be bowled by the all-rounders.
The batting looks a little thin but that could be because little is known about the players in this squad. They are here to gain experience but we don’t think they will be pleased with being beaten by a collection of players from around the world, either.
Strengths: All the players from the same region which participate in an established cricketing circuit
Weaknesses: These are players that could not make the national or the A team from West Indies, lack experience
Our Prediction: 5th
The Global T20 Canada is shaping up to be a pretty exciting tournament. The quality of players involved is surprisingly good, the squads look to be quite evenly matched, and the surfaces should be excellent for batting.
This could be the new dawn of cricket in Canada.
We think that the Edmonton Royals look like the strongest team and should emerge as winners. Close competition from the Winnipeg Hawks is likely as that is another very well balanced team with plenty of T20 specialists.
We recommend potential punters to wait for the first match to get an idea of the surface and then re-evaluate the teams to have a better chance of booking profits.