John Davison: The Canadian folk hero who once held the record for the fastest World Cup century
The 2011 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup was littered with showdowns between legends. It was Sachin Tendulkar's first and last World Cup victory, it witnessed the retirement of the Sri Lankan spin icon Muttiah Muralitharan, and it ended with MS Dhoni's shot into the night sky that sealed the Cup for Team India.
It is therefore ironic how a man from an associate member side managed to grab all eyeballs by asserting his authority against a full member side.
Ireland's Kevin O'Brien managed to defy all the odds by scoring a match-winning century off just 50 balls against England. Prior to this match, the record belonged to none other than Matthew Hayden, who had scored a jaw-dropping 101 off 68 balls against South Africa at the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup.
But let's wind back the clock and recollect the innings that became the trend-setter for these power-packed outings at the flagship tournament of international cricket.
The Canadian team had just hit an all-time low against the Sri Lankans in their group stage encounter. On 19 February 2003, Canada became the sorry holders of an unwanted record when they were bowled out for just 36 runs against the island nation. Unfortunately for them, this record still stands.
A fan's expectation for a turnaround from their team is a demand that is rarely met, never mind the pace at which the turnaround takes place. For Canada though, there was something magical in the offing.
On 23 February 2003, the West Indies took on Canada at Centurion. West Indies won the toss and elected to field first. The match seemed like a one-sided affair from the outset, and so the crowd did not turn out in huge numbers.
John Davison opened the innings with Ishwar Maraj to take on the duo of Mervin Dillon and Pedro Collins. After a very quiet first 3 overs, Davison changed gears by smashing Collins for a four over covers, and followed it with a splendid advancing shot for a six.
This was just the beginning of an unprecedented onslaught. Dillon's bowling was treated with disdain as Davison smashed him for 3 fours in as many balls in the very next over. Vasbert Drakes was also not spared as Davison hit him for two towering sixes and one boundary.
Canada lost their first wicket off the last ball of the 12th over in the form of Maraj. As a testament to Davison's dominance in the opening partnership, his individual score read 72 off 43 balls at the time of dismissal of his partner for just 16, in a partnership worth 96 runs.
He was then joined by Desmond Chumney. After rotating the strike on a regular basis in the following overs, Davison moved his score into the 90s with a six off Chris Gayle's bowling. A clean strike off Dillon's last delivery of the 19th over had history written all over it.
Davison had scored the then fastest World Cup century, off just 67 balls. It eventually required a one-handed blinder from Drakes to bring down the curtains on a super-aggressive knock from the Canadian batsman.
He had finally been dismissed for a blistering 111.
Davison went on to play for Canada until the 2011 World Cup. That was when he announced his retirement from international cricket, playing his last match against Australia.
Although he could not replicate the same level of brilliance in the games he played after the encounter against the Windies, this knock was thoroughly entertaining. Davison has his name etched in history books forever, and now enjoys his status as one of the most famous players to have played cricket for Canada.