Fri, Mar 04, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Canada’s ‘Tendulkar’ dreaming of England

YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE:Nitish Kumar, 16, opened the innings during Canada’s Cricket World Cup game against Zimbabwe with John Davison, 24 years his senior

Reuters, COLOMBO

Canadian cricketer Nitish Kumar attends a training session at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Nitish Kumar has serious business to attend to during the long rest periods at the Cricket World Cup — armed with a stack of textbooks and notes, the Canadian batsman has his high school homework to complete.

Kumar was only 16 years and 283 days old when he played his first World Cup match on Monday against Zimbabwe at Vidarbha and became the youngest player to take part in any World Cup game.

He may have scored only one run as his team suffered a 175-run loss but the Woburn Collegiate Institute student is thrilled to represent Canada — for now.

“It’s a privilege, playing with great players,” he said in an interview soon after his net practices ahead of another tough Group A game against Pakistan yesterday.

Even if Kumar proves his batting talent, his team are unlikely to play in the next World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2015 as the International Cricket Council has already announced plans to cut the tournament from 14 to 10 teams.

Canada also have next to no chance of getting Test status in the near future.

“At the moment I am not really concerned about that because the focus is on this World Cup,” said Kumar, who wants to play county cricket in England in the future.

“Without Canada, I won’t have this chance but it will be great to play county cricket and move forward from there, “ he said. “I would love to play in England where county and professional cricket is quite good. We can’t do that in Canada.”

When asked if he wanted to move to any other of the better cricket-playing nations, he said: “If there is no World Cup for Canada, then yes. I would like to play for England or India. India may be quite hard.”

Nicknamed Canada’s Tendulkar, Kumar opened the innings against Zimbabwe with John Davison, the oldest player at the tournament, 24 years the senior of the teenager.

“It was a great game and very hard but quite enjoyable. Being from the Under-19 World Cup last year to this one I see a great difference in levels, skills and how people play,” Kumar said.

Outside the game, Kumar says he wants to specialize in sports sciences, following his two sisters.

“I am still in high school bringing homework along with me, doing some homework in off days and when I am not playing but the greater focus is on cricket at the moment,” he said. “I want to be a professional cricketer first. The studies are just as a back-up.”

Combining cricket with studies has been the biggest challenge for the teen, born in Scarborough, Ontario.

“At one point I was really stressed with all the school work when nights were passing. But when you go and play cricket you are enjoying yourself and the experience is great, so I try not to get too stressed about school and focus on here,” he said.

“For me, first it’s cricket. I want to do something in cricket. My family gives me great support,” Kumar said. “Teachers who have played any sports before, they understand how big an occasion this is as it doesn’t happen to everyone. They are actually behind me.”

Kumar is the only son of parents who moved from India to Canada when they were young.

When he was 11 he witnessed his father’s death in a road accident.

“It’s a big loss,” he said. “The reason why I started cricket was because my dad used to go, watch and play. It’s a big loss for me but he is with me I know.”

“Every time when I play, I have a picture of him in my bag, so I remind myself that he is also with me,” Kumar said. “I still have so many relatives in Punjab, but I haven’t met them yet.”

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top