Warning: this article is going to be nerdy. Extremely nerdy. Even for this website.
It saddened me when I heard the ICC had reduced the 2019 Cricket World Cup to just ten teams.
Cricket minnows deserve a chance (rather than an insanely hard qualifying system) to shine every four years and it also gives players with dual citizenship an opportunity.
John Davison is one such example.
He was a player who was never going to be selected for Australia. Instead, he had a cricket lifeline he couldn’t resist.
Davison, born in Canada moved back there in 1999 and took on a role as player/coach in club cricket.
He played a major part in helping Canada qualify for the 2003 World Cup after solid performances in the 2001 ICC Trophy.
After defeating Bangladesh in their first game, Canada suffered a humiliating loss to Sri Lanka.
Bowled out for just 36, Sri Lanka chased down the total in 4.4 overs.
Everyone was expecting something similar against the West Indies and there was a groan around the ground when it was announced that Canada would be batting first at Centurion.
Instead of a Chris Gayle masterclass, it was a little known Canadian who would create history.
The 32-year-old had shown glimpses of what he was capable of with two fours and two sixes against Kenya, but he took it to a whole new level against the West Indies.
He started off fairly sedately but it was a launched six over cover against Pedro Collins in the fourth over which kick-started his innings.
He followed that six with a crunching cut shot over backward point against the Windies’ other opening bowler in Merv Dillon.
The Calypso boys tried a bit of sledging and a few bouncers at Davison, but he somehow hit those to the boundary as well.
Captain Carl Hooper had no idea where to place his field.
In the blink of an eye, Davison had his 50 off just 30 balls inside ten overs.
Dean Jones in commentary was already asking for Canada to promote Davison to be Prime Minister and as each sublime shot rolled off his bat, you couldn’t help but get swept up in the moment.
Davison looked a bit like Greg Blewett under the helmet and he had a similar stance at the crease.
He seemed to create effortless power. One has to remember that this was a time before T20 cricket took off around the world and seven runs an over was still relatively unheard of.
As he edged closer to a century, Davison showed no signs of nerves.
He whacked Gayle for six to make it into the 90s. In the very next over (just the 19th of the innings), on 94 he launched Dillon over long on to bring up the century.
It was his sixth six of the innings.
His century came in 67 balls and was the fastest ever at the time in World Cup cricket and the fourth fastest in ODI history.
His innings eventually came to an end on 111 after one of the best catches of the tournament to Vasbert Drakes on the boundary.
Davison’s departure from the crease resulted in a rapid collapse by Canada which seemed to make his innings even more significant.
In the end, the West Indies easily chased down the 202 with Brian Lara finishing on 73 not out. Usually, a brisk Lara innings would be remembered, but not in this case. It was all about John Davison, who for 98 minutes put Canadian cricket on the map.
After watching that innings in 2003, it gave me just as much joy to see another player from a cricket minnow top the fastest century list at a World Cup.
Kevin O’Brien’s 50-ball century for Ireland against England in 2011 will take some beating. Sadly, it won’t be from an associate batsman at this World Cup.
Let’s hope former associate nation Afghanistan can produce their own magic to show the ICC just what the ‘minnow’ teams can bring to the table.