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What do players like Winston Davis, Trevor Chappell, Collis King, Garry Gilmour, Tariq Iqbal and John Davison have in common? Quite simply, they are one-hit wonders for their respective teams in the World Cup who failed to maintain the consistency of their performance elsewhere in their career. However, Canada’s John Davison held more bragging rights over his fellow one-hit wonders. He was, for a brief period, the owner of the fastest century in the World Cup, one that came off 67 balls.
Canada had been demolished by Sri Lanka — annihilated would be more apt — after being bowled out for a world-record low of 36 in the 2003 World Cup. So, there wasn’t a soul at Centurion, where Canada took on the West Indies in their next group game, who would have predicted what was to happen.
Opening the batting for Canada after the West Indies won the toss and elected to field, probably expecting their lowly opposition to capitulate again, Davison blew the Windies away with some hard-hitting batting. It came against a decent pace attack comprising Pedro Collins, Merv Dillon and Vasbert Drakes, the latter having to take a spectacular one-handed catch at long-on to dismiss Davison for 111. The rest of the Canada side could manage less than half of Davison’s score, and were bowled out for 202 in the 43rd over.
Even though the West Indies tried their best to overshadow Davison’s knock, over hauling their target in the 21st over itself, it was clear who the day belonged to. Reflecting back on his effort, Davison told ABC in an interview: “I think I was in the prime of my cricket then. To me, just to have the opportunity to open the batting against some good teams on some great facilities was great.”
Davison was born in Campbell River, a coastal city in the Canadian province of British Columbia, to Australian parents there on a teaching exchange. His family eventually moved to Australia where Davison played cricket in Melbourne, before attending the famed Australian Cricket Academy, where he developed as a batting all-rounder who could bowl some off-spin. Davison was to go on to play in the Sheffield Shield with Victoria and South Australia soon after. So, how did he end up playing in the red of Canada?
“When I was 18, I heard that Neil Maxwell was playing cricket for Fiji. I wondered if Canada’s got a team, so I wrote a letter of to what was known as the Canadian Cricket Association those days and didn’t hear anything back for 10 years! [Finally] I got an email when I was playing for Victoria asking if I would play for them.”
Davison quickly rose through the ranks of Canada’s national team and even coached his country of birth a bit on the art of cricket, where it still isn’t a popular sport. “It took a little bit of convincing for Cricket Australia to let me come and play for Canada,” Davison revealed. “I spoke to Greg Chappell and he only saw it as a positive…”
Davison helped Canada to finish third in the 2001 ICC Trophy, which helped them qualify for the 2003 World Cup. Apart from the record-breaking century against the Windies, Davison scored the third-fastest half-century in a World Cup against the Kiwis, in just 25 balls, before finishing on 75 from 62. Davison was appointed Canada’s captain in the months to follow, even as he played his last game for South Australia in 2004-05. In the 2007 World Cup, Davison was back to torment the Black Caps with a 23-ball 50. Unfortunately for him, Matthew Hayden was to better his world record by one delivery, with a 66-ball ton against South Africa. Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien was to better it four years later with a ton in just 50 balls against England.
Davison was soon to get a role as spin bowling coach at the Australian Centre of Excellence, which highlighted his all-round abilities. Life came a full ironical circle for Davison in the 2011 World Cup, when he announced his retirement from international cricket at the end of Canada’s campaign, which was to culminate with a match against his “second home”, Australia. “I suppose it was a fitting way to go out — to play against guys like Ricky Ponting whom I went with to the Cricket Academy back in ’93. And then to also play with some of the younger guys whom I’ve been involved with in coaching. It’s going to be a nice way to bow out.”
For all his exploits, which includes beating Jim Laker’s First-Class record with a 17 for 137 against USA, Davison will forever be remembered for his blitz at Centurion. “People still talk about it and I’m happy to talk about it,” he said. ”It’s one of my fondest memories on an individual level. I’ll talk about it all you want!”
(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and a writer at CricketCountry. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn’t fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog - The Mullygrubber )
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