Shreyas Vasudevareddy Movva, 28, may be the new face of an emerging cricket scene in Quebec.
The software engineer got the call recently telling him he had made the cut for a T-20 Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament, coming up in Antigua & Barbuda Nov. 7-15.
"When I came to Canada, I had two goals. One is to get a masters from (Concordia) University and another one is to get selected for Cricket Canada. So I would say the hunger to achieve the goal was within me," Movva said.
Movva immigrated to Montreal from India five years ago with his ambitious goals.
But, after speaking with friends, he learned that realizing his lifelong dream to play international cricket from Quebec would be difficult.
"Some of the players used to tell me that, 'Oh you won't get selected because they won't take people from Quebec' or something. But I kept believing in the Quebec Cricket Federation management. They helped me a lot."
The federation and its president, Charles Pais, recognized Movva's potential and worked with him to create opportunities for him to showcase his skills at national team training camps, which were often located in the Toronto area.
"It doesn't happen very often," Pais said about Quebec-based players reaching the national team "but this is not a fluke. The level of play is getting better in Quebec."
Pais added that the Quebec federation has grown to around 600 players across 38 club teams at the senior level in 2021. Including other leagues outside of the QCF he estimates there are now more than 1000 senior-level players in the province.
The federation says the biggest challenge is the shortage of proper cricket pitches for play and practice.
"I'm pretty happy for Quebec. I'm pretty happy for Shreyas as well. This is a beginning," said Amarinder Bhinder, the head coach for Canada T-20 Men's national team.
"In the central T20 (training camp), I did notice there was not one, but there were three or four very good cricketers from Quebec. In the future, they can knock down the door. There is some talent in Quebec."
Family Support and Personal Sacrifice
Upon learning that he'd be wearing the maple leaf, the first call Movva made was to his parents in India.
"All the dreams, all the hard work, all the time that I spend on the grounds, it all came to my mind. I was shocked for two or three minutes," Movva said.
His father M.G. Vasudevareddy, who was an accomplished cricketer in his own right in his youth, was particularly excited to hear the news.
"My father is my biggest inspiration when it comes to cricket. I used to see his trophies. I used to see his photos when I was young," Movva says. "My dad was all over the place (with joy) sharing the news with his friends."
Making the squad took much more than just raw talent.
Movva first balanced his schedule as a full-time student with his training. Then, after graduating, for 15 months, he relied on support from friends and family so he could focus on training with the national team development team.
Now he works full-time for a freight management company. He trains for his sport in the evenings and weekends.
"It takes a lot of energy, and all the support comes from my friends. They help me with the housework and everything, and whenever I get the time they tell me to go to the gym, or go to practice and they will come and support me there. That's how I get the energy," Movva said.
Canada's long road to the World Cup
Australia will host the next International Cricket Council Men's T20 World Cup in November 2022.
The long road for Canada to qualify begins with the November tournament in Antigua and Barbuda. Canada isn't favoured to make it but Movva says it'd be a mistake to underestimate them.
"I'm definitely sure in T20s Canada can be a better team. And (traditional world cricket powers) India and Pakistan, they will be worried in the coming future," Movva said.
Unlike some nations, whose teams are made up of full time professional cricket players, Canada's players generally juggle their sport with full-time jobs as well.
Still Bhinder says the Canadian team is not far from reaching the World Cup. He says the Canadian T-20 team is currently ranked 22nd in the world and there are 20 spots for Australia.
"We beat Ireland and they were number 12 in the last qualifier. We can beat the number 12 team, we have the potential. So it's a matter of time, good planning, good coaching and some momentum," Bhinder said.
Movva and Team Canada will have to be among the top two teams at the qualifier in order to advance to the next round.
"It feels so good and amazing breaking that barrier," Movva said. "I want to make Quebec more stronger and also the Canada team to qualify for World Cup."