July 14, 2011

Rocky Road for the US to the 2011 U19 ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Ireland

July 14, 2011

For the first time, USA U19s  batted first after winning the toss and in what can be called in improvement over the first two matches, they built their total to 133 in the fourth and final match against the West Indies U19 team. There were a couple of partnerships for the US team but many batsmen did perish of their own doing. There was a paucity of singles and twos and a penchant to go for big shots. The West Indians made very quick work of the total as if they had an afternoon appointment.  Opener John Campbell slashed, slammed and pulled his way to a 100 of just 69 balls against insipid bowling by the US, particularly and worryingly by the pacers.  Despite not being in the twelve for the match, the mystery keeper, Chris van Tull, played in the match while Steven Taylor, the regular keeper, tried some spin.   Of course, US administration has said nothing of all this -- van Tull is not even in the probables but may well find his way into the 14 ahead of more deserving players.  One thing we can say about US cricket -- we start young -- with the politics, that is.

The US boys have two weeks to get ready for Ireland.  First and foremost, they need to really improve their catching and fielding. They need to bowl consistent lines and length instead of going for pace or trying random variations as spinners. They need to take all the singles and twos on offer and wait for loose deliveries to dispose for boundaries instead of taking unnecessary chances or get bogged down.  If they do the basic things right, they will perform creditably in Ireland.

July 12, 2011

A better performance by the US team in its third match although the West Indian team's batting improved as well.  The net-net was a 220 run victory for the West Indian U19 who were put into bat and had two centurions in Campbell and Mayers.  US's Prashanth Nair who took 5 wickets for 57 from 9 overs was the standout bowler.   The US batting which began circumspectly (for a change) got to its highest total in this series of 101 for 5 in the allotted 42 overs (D-L reduction due to rain).  Cameron Mirza played a steady innings of 34 with the first wicket partnership of 29 with Taylor being the largest of the innings.  Clearly, the US is out of its depth against the West Indian side but they can take heart from their improved performance in all three aspects of the match, thanks to Coach Robin Singh in no small measure.

The conduct of the US cricket administration got worse, if that can be believed.  They introduced a hitherto-unknown keeper -- not in the 14, not even in the reserves and never has been to trials.   They also brought in Kalim Ahmed, who is a reserve, into the match after saying just yesterday that there will not be any changes to the squad.  So much for that.  The West Indian team management did appear to question how non-squad members can be randomly inserted onto the field of play but they chose not to sustain a protest.  Perhaps, they have now realized that US cricket is devoid of anything resembling due process and proper etiquette.

What is very apparent is that USACA does not seem to bother with how others (in and out of the US) perceive them as long as they get to do what they want.  There is no one to hold them accountable -- they know that, we know that.   If any of you feel aggrieved (and many do), I suggest you email to enquiry@icc-cricket.com with your feedback on the state of US cricket.   It cannot hurt when ICC sees multitude of emails from US rank-and-file cricket enthusiasts.

July 11, 2011

Never an off day when USACA politics is in full swing!  Two extraordinary decisions (both from the very top) -- one was to replace an already selected US T20 player (Nauman Mustafa from NWR) with another who should have been selected in the first place (Sushil Nadkarni of CWR) and the second was to invite a seemingly random assortment of U19 players (mostly from Washington DC and South Florida) to the "training camp" alongside the U19s.   Manaf Mohammed, USACA's operations chief ominously added "the squad remains the same for now." 

One has to feel terrible for Nauman who did nothing wrong and because he belonged to an anti-Dainty region, he was seen as expendable.  What is worse is that such actions are par for the course in the US -- a few will bark but there is never any bite.

As for the additional invitees for the U19 camp, it makes no sense given that only one of them appears to be from the reserves.  It almost has to be a quid pro quo between USACA and a region or two, the details of which we can only speculate.  It would not be surprising if one or two of the current "expendable" players in the squad are excused and replaced with the "trainees."

What is surprising is why someone like Coach Robin Singh would put up with such zaniness in the midst of a serious training camp that he has promised.  How he reacts and what he does will tell us a lot about his character.

July 10, 2011

Things got from quite bad to much worse in the second match as the West Indians piled up 339 runs in the allotted 50 overs with opener John Campbell scoring a seven-life unbeaten century.  The US could only manage 71 runs in return with extras top scoring and no batsman even making into double figures.  It does appear that this team is disoriented technically, mentally and physically.   Coach Robin Singh, who joined the team today, did seem to take this performance in stride in his post-match comments but he has quite a few holes to plug and plug quickly and effectively.  The next match is scheduled for Tuesday and a day's gap can only come as a welcome one for the US team and its coach as they scramble to look like a cricket team that can qualify for the 2012 edition of the U19 Cricket World Cup.   As of now, they look like pretenders.  

July 9, 2011

The West Indies U19 overwhelmed the US U19 in the first match winning by a whopping 215 runs. Areas of real concern from this match for the US are the poor catching and fielding and the very brittle batting display.  Bowling was quite good by the front-line bowlers despite lack of catching support.   While one does not expect the US U19 to consistently match up well against a member country's U19 side, there is room for lots of improvement in the next three matches.
July 8, 2011

Rain showers forecast for the entire week in Florida where the West Indies U19 play the US U19.  Should anyone be surprised by this -- after all, this is the start of the hurricane season in that part of the world.   But don't tell that to the organizers at USACA of such events.   They seem to have a knack of picking the wrong place to have tournaments of late.  Lets hope enough matches get played to completion.

Per Dreamcricket's Peter Della Penna, the weather at the stadium is very good but despite that the match got postponed (last night) to Saturday.  Some disturbing points mentioned in Peter's article -- Greg Sewdial appears unfit (he is recovering from serious injuries) and he is the captain and main middle order batsman;  Gurpreet Sandhu has not arrived and may not due to inability to enter the US on a valid visa;  Masood Chik (Ex-CER-USACA-Rep) still involved with the team;  Amarnath Persaud being trained to be a backup keeper as there are no real keepers except for Stephen Taylor.

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