x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cann shows true dedication

Batsman helps Bermuda defeat Scotland in World T20 Qualifier and has named his children in honour of Sachin Tendulkar.

Bermudan cricketer Lionel Cann. AFP
Bermudan cricketer Lionel Cann. AFP

SHARJAH // A Friday morning fixture in Sharjah between Scotland and Bermuda was never likely to attract a capacity crowd.

With Sachin Tendulkar batting on the television for probably the last time that same morning, they were lucky all the players even turned up.

“I’ve built my whole career around Sachin,” said Lionel Cann, 41, the Bermuda batsman. “He has kept me going. By him prolonging his career I have carried on to become a senior player. The next two days are going to be sad.

“It was tough this morning because I wanted to see everything, I even switched on the TV inside [the dressing room] hoping it was on. He is going to be sadly missed.”

There are plenty of Tendulkar obsessives in the world. Few international cricketers wear their adoration for the Mumbai maestro quite as proudly as Cann does, though.

The 41-year-old batsman has an eight-year-old daughter called India and a four-year-old son named, somewhat predictably, Sachin.

“They both love cricket,” he said. “Hopefully one day they’ll be half as good as Sachin.”

When Bermuda played at the 2007 World Cup, they were drawn in the same group at India and their captain at the time confessed to hoping a catch would not be hit in Cann’s direction.

“Right now I’m hoping Tendulkar does not hit a catch to him because he will probably drop it to watch him bat,” Irving Romaine said in Jamaica back then.

When Cann took guard for Bermuda against Scotland in the opening match of the World Twenty20 Qualifier, he was living out another personal dream.

Standing on the same earth at Sharjah Cricket Stadium as that on which Tendulkar made seven of his 49 one-day international centuries. And Cann managed to channel the spirit of his hero, too, during an innings of 27 which may appear modest numerically, but was a crucial cameo as Bermuda eventually won by 18 runs.

In particular, when he launched Majid Haq, the Scotland off-spinner, over cow corner and on to the tented roof of the grandstand.

The ball bounced out of the stadium and into the neighbouring football ground. Tendulkar would have been proud of that feat.

Cann acknowledged he had been emboldened by the thought of playing at the same venue as the retiring Indian great.

“When I was young, watching cricket on telly, Sharjah hosted most of the matches, the Asia Cups and I got to watch him,” Cann said.

“As soon as you walk in the arena, and are in the same changing room as Sachin has been, and start warming up, and look at the scoreboards, you start to feel it. To bat here, to be a part of where he was such a part of, it is very emotional for me.

“I wish him all the best when he retires, and I will continue on and try to pass on everything I’ve learnt from him to our youngsters.”

pradley@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE