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U.S. Cricket Faces More Questions Than Answers

By Orin Davidson
June 6th, 2008
The question has been making the rounds continuously in the minds of die- hard supports of United States cricket these last few days.

Where does our cricket go from here?

In the wake of another disastrous attempt by the national senior team at qualifying for the world’s most prestigious cricket competition, it is a very pertinent query.

Just when the country has been released from a two-year world ban, the fraternity hardly had time savor the good feeling before being plunged into another state of deep depression.

Not capable of placing among the top two teams in the lowest level of recognized world competition has caused this country another indefinite wait to play in the World Cup for the very first time.

The United States was unable to beat teams like Jersey, which no one playing or following cricket here, ever heard of before now, and the likes of Nepal.

And when you see counties like Afghanistan, that war ravaged nation, going onto the next stage of the long World Cup qualification process, you immediately conclude that U.S. cricket is in serious trouble.

That is the reality the nation faces after America could only manage a fourth place finish in the ICC World Group five series that ended last weekend in Jersey, a little island just off England.

Immediately, the thought that we may have underestimated the 12 teams in the series that included Germany, Norway, Mozambique, Japan, Afghanistan. and Vanuatu, comes to mind.

That may be true, but the other reality is that the national ruling body’s poverty of financial resources caused the embarrassment we are now facing.

In terms of administration and organization , it seems the U.S. was worst off than the major of the countries in Jersey, which is why America could do no better than a lamentable fourth place.

Team captain Steve Massiah revealed that the team had no more than one solitary week end of net practice and nothing more, which is a disgrace for a team preparing for the biggest competition it could ever think of being in, at this stage of its existence.

With the national body being banned by the World body, you don’t expect the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) to receive any funding from the ICC during the two- year period.

But outside of that reality, the USACA coffers have been bare for a long time before and during the ban.

And you don’t have to be genius to figure out where that blame must be directed.

Surely now, this shock result in Jersey should jolt us all into reality that we must never again underrate any team in recognized international competition.

Countries are going the extra mile to be the best they can be as winning means everything.

A look at the composition of many of those teams would reveal names totally un German- like or Norwegian- like of Afghanistan- like or even Mozambiquian-like.

The squads were filled with Asian sounding names that tells you that the majority or 90 percent of those players are from cricket playing nations.
So we were going up against players who have been playing the game as long or even longer than our guys.

These were not teams of soccer playing players from Germany and Norway, these were genuinely capable players.
Even Japan had the likes of Munir Ahmed and M. Kamatani in their lineup
It is a situation similar to the U.S. team which comprises exclusively West Indian, India and Pakistan born nationals.

But when you see the exclusiveness in composition of Germany and Norway squads, you wonder how all those players became eligible to compete in ICC competitions so easily.

Especially so when a number of good players from the West Indies and Asia have had problems making the cut for the national team because of eligibility restrictions over the years.

Nevertheless, we cannot cry over split milk, but should be taking in the harsh lessons learnt from the Jersey experience.

Most of those countries took this World Cup Five competition very seriously. Jersey for example selected a slew of Englishmen with county experience.

And even if we never knew of Jersey before, they were coming with players, the likes of Ryan Driver with a resume of exposure with Lancashire and Worcestershire counties and others of similar type pedigree.

And they had those players gelling as a unit weeks before their first match against Singapore.

Comparatively, the America squad had not a single player who ever got close to winning a county contract.

Lennox Cush has first class experience playing for Guyana in the West Indies Regional competitions. And given the low level of standards there these days, that is saying very little.

Sushil Nadkarnie played briefly for his state team in India and also for that county’s “A” team on a solitary tour, which is negligible to sustained county experience. Massiah was a Guyana Under-19 player which makes him the next closest player to real exposure as is Orlando Baker who did likewise for Jamaica.

So here we were, going up against seasoned players, with a bunch of rusty team members, some of whom had not lifted a bat or handled a ball since the summer of 2007.

Why we could not have had our team getting familiar to turf pitches as opposed to matting, opposing Rest teams on the sleek facilities at the new Broward County stadium in Florida is a question the powers- that- be, have to ponder. Also not being in Jersey or some place else in the United Kingdom, getting used to the seaming conditions there for at least week, that is unique to that part of the world.

Especially when the last American team to play for a World Cup place was crippled by identical British playing conditions in Ireland four years ago.

The next World Cup is set for the year 2015.

Our administrators will have loads of time to think about all these things.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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