Less than seven months after hiring its last coach, Cricket Canada is once again looking for someone to take the national team to the next level.
Canada's cricket journey will likely stall somewhat in the short-term as the sport's governing body looks to replace Australian Michael Dighton, whose surprise resignation was announced Wednesday.
Change has been the one constant at Cricket Canada in recent years, on and off the field.
Dighton, 36, took over the national team last September on a two-year contract, directing Canada on tours to Barbados and Namibia as well as the Caribbean T20 and Twenty20 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
His last match in charge was a one-day loss to Namibia on April 12 in Windhoek. Dighton called the performance “a bitter pill to swallow and a bad way to finish a tour that could have been somewhat of a success with two WCL (World Cricket League) wins.”
Family seems to have been a deciding issue. Dighton's wife and children remained in Australia.
“He made the determination that his focus need to be on his family at this time and we totally understand that,” said Cricket Canada president Ravin Moorthy.
“He has young kids and I know he would talk about them quite a bit,” echoed Canadian batsman Jimmy Hansra. “That did bother him a bit being away from family this long.”
It has been a busy time for Canadian cricket with events in December (Barbados), January (Caribbean T20), March (T20 World Cup qualifying tournament) and April (Namibia), not to mention camps inbetween.
An email to Dighton was not immediately answered.
Moorthy and Hansra both said the resignation caught them by surprise.
“A bit of a shock,” said Hansra.
“Obviously we're disappointed,” said Moorthy. “We took the position when we hired Michael that we were looking for someone younger, with a lot of energy — coming from a professional system in Australia, to come and put his stamp on the senior men's team and on the organization.
“Unfortunately it just didn't work out. So we're a little bit disappointed but we're thankful for his contribution. I think there's a lot of things we learned from Michael being here, a lot of things we'll be able to put forward as we go the next couple of years.”
Canada came into the T20 World Cup qualifier in March seeded sixth among the 16 ICC associate and affiliate countries. That's where it finished, with Ireland and Afghanistan advancing to the Twenty20 World Cup.
“In my eyes that was a disappointment. We should have done better,” said Hansra.
Moorthy pointed to the loss of some top players including captain Ashish Bagai, and how the team has started introducing young talent into the lineup.
“This period of Michael being here also coincided with refreshing the team. We are not happy with the results that we've had over the last six months but to put that all on the coach would be unfair.”
Dighton took over from interim coach Ingleton Liburd, who had been in charge since former Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Pubudu Dassanayake stepped down after the World Cup in early 2011.
“It's difficult when the coach is changing every six or seven months,” said Hansra. “I'm really hoping Cricket Canada management finds something that stays for a while. I think it's important to give a coach a good run and all that.
“It is frustrating from a player's perspective going into this, but as a professional I think we have to deal with these kind of things. We can't let this hamper us in any way. We're still training away back home now.”
Dighton is a former Tasmanian batsman who also played for Hampshire and Derbyshire in England. He served as an assistant coach for the Netherlands at the 2011 Cricket World Cup and as head coach of the Cricket Australia National Emerging Talent Rookie Squad and batting coach for the Tasmania under-23 side.
Hansra enjoyed Dighton's style of coaching.
“He's a very hands-on coach. He's a young coach, so he'd be the guy in there running with us and doing all these other exercises. That helped all the players do that much more. ... He did everything right in my book,” said Hansra.
A search for his replacement will begin immediately with Canada slated to tour Scotland in early July.
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