Osinde is Canada's new cricket coach

Osinde is Canada's new cricket coach

May 18, 2017

Introduced to the sport in 1995 when late Barbados and West Indies opener Conrad Hunte visited his Ugandan high school, Henry Osinde came to Canada seven years later and made history as the first African to play in the Toronto & District Cricket Association (TDCA) league.

After representing Canada in 42 One-day Internationals and two World Cups in a six-year span up until 2013, the retired lanky medium-fast bowler is back with the national team.

Named the national coach earlier this month, his first assignment is in Uganda for the World Cricket League division three series from May 23 to 30.

Coaching TDCA Elite team Brampton Masters during the past two seasons has prepared 38-year-old Osinde for his new role.

“I enjoyed doing that and also my stint as bowling coach with Canada’s High Performance program last year,” he said. “I like helping and guiding young players, so when the opening came up for a coach, I threw my hat in the bag and was successful.”

Osinde, who was sent home from the International Cricket Council (ICC) Twenty/20 World Cup qualifier in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 for indiscipline, expects Canada to win the tournament and secure promotion to division two.

“When I took this job, I felt we didn’t have the right combination of players to get the job done and I stepped on some toes to try to get things done a certain way so we can have a winning formula,” he pointed out. “I think we have the right team now with a good mix of young and veteran players and batting all the way down to nine. With just two specialist bowlers, our batting is our strength and we are depending on the batsmen to carry us.”

Osinde’s knowledge of the three playing venues could be a bonus for Canada.

“The wickets are slightly slower than when I used to play on them before leaving 15 years ago and they take some spin,” he said.

Canada’s first game is against Uganda on May 23.

The East Africans recently defeated neighbours Kenya 4-0 in a five-match series.

“Uganda is a good team at home because they are familiar with the surroundings,” said Osinde who started playing the sport at age 17 and spent 10 years with Brampton Masters, two seasons with Toronto Cricket Club and one each with Victoria Park and Limers.  “We, however, have more depth, experience and power hitters than them.”

Right-handed batsman Nitish Kumar, who is studying in England, leads the national side that includes hard-hitting and useful medium pacer Rizwan Cheema who, at age 38, is the side’s elder statesman, and Caribbean Premier League representatives Nikhil Dhutta and Hamza Tariq.

Sri Lankan-born middle-order batsman Dhanuka Pathirana, who smashed 277 off 72 balls in a Twenty/20 match in Lancashire’s Saddleworth league a decade ago, and Guyanese all-rounder Mark Montfort – the son of local umpire Peter Montfort – are expected to be major contributors.

 Mark Montfort

Mark Montfort

Montfort, who migrated seven years ago, played club cricket with former West Indies off-spinner Clyde Butts.

“I grew up bowling off-spin and I learnt a lot from Clyde who was a mentor,” said Montfort who has been with Brampton Masters for the last seven years.

Two years ago, he converted to bowling medium pace.

“We didn’t have anybody who could bowl a bit quick at a practice session and coach (Osinde) asked me if I could bowl a few seamers,” Montfort, who also spent three seasons in Trinidad & Tobago with Spoilers, related. “I guess he liked what he saw and he encouraged me to become a medium pacer. It’s hard work, but I am enjoying it.”

Though the focus has been on his bowling, Montfort still takes pride in his batting.

“I don’t want to be viewed as a bowling all-rounder,” said the left-handed middle order batsman. “Occupying the crease and making major scores are always on my mind.”

The other contestants are the United States of America, Malaysia, Singapore and Oman.

The winner and runner-up will be promoted to division two for 2018, the third and fourth place sides will remain in division three and the fifth and sixth place teams will be relegated to division four for next year.

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