January 27, 2011

2011 U19 Team Selection - Business as Usual at USACA

The usual mix of deserving players and privileged players make up the U19 National side for the crucial qualifiers in February.  Unless US finishes in the top two in these qualifiers with reigning champions Canada and a strong Bermuda team also in the reckoning, their quest for being part of the 2012 U19 World Cup will be over. 

From the Western Conference, the South-West Region boasts four players in the fourteen including one whose batting and bowling performances were decidedly sub-par in the Western Conference matches and in the aborted National Championships.  The North-West Region which easily won the Western Conference Championship and was unbeaten in the aborted National Championships only has two players to show for its undefeated record.  The Central-East Region which did not even qualify for the National Championships has two players and the Central-West region has no representation.

From the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Region has three players including one who was not even in the list of 21 players invited for the trials.   The New York region has two players, neither of whom appeared to have any notable performances in the Eastern Conference tournament.  The South-East Region has only one player despite qualifying for the national championships.

To call this the best of the nation's U19 would be hard to defend.  What one could settle for is that there are about six players who clearly deserve to be in the side and about four players who clearly are privileged and thus find themselves in the side.  What should concern us is that both Bermuda and Canada youth programmes have progressed significantly in the last couple of years and their sides would be very competitive in the fight for the top two spots in the ICC U19 Americas Tournament in two weeks.  Unless the deserving US players perform at a peak level, US could well find itself out of contention for the ICC U19 World Cup in 2012 as early as February 2011.  

A bit about how to be a privileged player from what I have been able to glean from talking to various folks across the country.   It helps to be from the right region -- one whose regional representative is aligned with the power base at USACA, currently spelt "Dainty."  It helps even more to be from the right league in any region so that you can trade your vote in the upcoming USACA elections for a spot for your beloved player in the national team and a blazer to boot.  It really helps if you are successful in forming your own league and having it approved by USACA only because you want your offsprings to play on national teams.  That makes "vote for spot" principle quite easy to implement.   This is much more common than you and I think.

Now a bit about how to be a deserving player in the mix.  It is harder than you think especially if you are from a region or a league that the current power base at USACA happens to dislike.  The NWR is a classic example of this where they find themselves at odds with the current USACA power base so they are lucky to even have two players in the side, both deserving.  (In the senior side, they have a sum total of 0 despite having won the national championships.) 

Now many of you might wonder how the selectors play into this.  Well they play into this as much as the average puppet plays into its performance.  Their strings are pulled by the region they belong to but the real selection is done by USACA top management where region and league allegiances, voting ramifications, assorted quid pro quos are fully and duly considered.  In that way, USACA is quite thorough and rarely makes mistakes. 

So when the national side lays an egg like the senior side has been seen to do on a couple of occassions in the last week, don't blame the team or team managament.  Blame the deal makers at USACA who probably care much less about on-the-field performances and much more about staying in power and having an occassional dip into the coffers from your and my dues as well as ICC's handouts for a trip here and an outing there.  Also blame the parochial league management and dysfunctional regional managements across this land who will also do anything to stay in power and at times gain privilege for their offsprings and their friends at the expense of the rest.

As Eisenhower once said "A people (aka USACA) that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."  

Lets hope the "soon" is sooner than later and not never.

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