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Davison: Shooting star

Until Sunday, John Davison was a little-known off-spinner who was not good enough to make it to the Australian team. But after smashing the fastest century in World Cup history against the West Indies at Centurion, his batting skills are bound to be taken much more seriously.

Davison's tour de force came just four days after his side, Canada, were routed for a world-record low of 36 by Sri Lanka. By smashing a hundred of just 67 balls, the Canadian opener overhauled Kapil Dev's previous World Cup-record of a 100 of 72 balls, which the Indian great set against Zimbabwe in 1983. Davison's breathtaking innings also saw him equal the fifth quickest ton in any one-day international. His 96-run stand with Ishwar Maraj for the first wicket, meanwhile, was a national record.

Davison, 32, finished with a total of 111 from 75 balls in 98 minutes, striking eight fours and six sixes, easily beating his highest score at senior level, 72, in Australia's domestic first- class competition.

He brought up his 50 off just 30 deliveries, and needed just 37 more to bring up his 100, reaching the milestone with a six off Mervyn Dillon.

Normally a spin bowler who bats down the order, Davison was selected to play for Canada two years ago when they finished third at the 1999 ICC Trophy to qualify for the World Cup.

He was born in British Columbia, Canada while his parents, both Australians, were in North America on a teaching exchange programme, but spent only five weeks there before the family returned home. He did not go back to Canada until accepting an offer to help them qualify for the World Cup.

Davison joined the Australian Cricket Academy in 1993 and began his first-class career with Victoria in 1995-96 but failed to cement a regular spot. With little hope of making the Australian team, Davison began exploring his options with Canada eight years ago, but never heard back from them until the World Cup qualifiers and had to seek permission from South Australia, whom he began representing last season, to play at the tournament.

His previous high score for Canada was 31, which he made against Kenya earlier in the tournament, but he quickly raced past that with a flying start at Centurion's Supersport Park.

After taking 11 balls to post his first boundary, Davison suddenly went on the rampage, smashing 23 off the next seven balls he faced and racing to his first one-day international fifty in 39 minutes, with two sixes of Dillon and another off Pedro Collins. He continued his onslaught after passing 50, albeit with some extraordinary luck.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul dropped him at square-leg on 55 when he got his fingertips to a vicious pull shot that sped away to the boundary, then had an amazing let-off on 71 when the ball did not dislodge the bail after rolling on to his leg stump from a Collins delivery.

Unperturbed by his close shaves, Davison continued to chance his arm. He was dropped by Dillon at mid-off on 76 but continued to plunder runs, reaching his century with a towering six off Dillon that sailed over the mid-on fence. He added just one more boundary after passing three figures before falling to an astonishing boundary catch by Drakes, who leapt into air and snatched the ball one-handed before it went for six.

As he left the ground, a exhausted yet happy man, the crowd gave Davison a standing ovation for his slice of cricket history. Acknowledging it, he retreated to the dressing room for a well- deserved lie down.

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