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U.S. Under-19 Team Woes Not Surprising

By Orin Davidson

Jan. 21st, 2010 | (Comments)
Now is as good a time as any to be the fly on the wall at meetings among United States of America Cricket Association decision makers in the wake of another poor display by the national Under-19 team, at the World Cup in New Zealand.

Crushing defeats in all three of the team’s group matches have left a sour taste in the mouth and prove no improvement was had from the last time this country played in the World Cup four years ago.

USA Under-19 before their game against South Africa. USA team (below), get some words of advice from ICC Match Referee Javagal Srinath. Photo courtesy of USACA.

You wonder what those decision makers are saying to themselves now, in light of the officials appointed to handle the team.

As from all indications from New Zealand , the team is suffering from abject management and many players are demoralized. The batting has been a disaster and has been mainly responsible for huge losses to Australia, South Africa and Ireland.

The contingent of officials with the players in New Zealand is the largest ever to travel with any U.S. team, yet no solution was found to arrest the batting failures.

A source close to the team said the players are lacking instruction and motivation and thus are helpless to improve from match to match in the group competition.

That is despite the fact there is a Level Three qualified coach among the panel of three there, in Reggie Benjamin, who also has wide experience coaching youth players.

The others are not as qualified in head coach Sew Shivnarine and Victor Benjamin, who were players.

But according to a source in New Zealand, Reggie Benjamin is being underutilized and has had little to do.

In other words he is a glorified passenger with the team.

Which is a gross indictment on the suitability of the head official making decisions there.

It brings us back to the vexed question of the modus operandi of certain decision makers, especially the ones who make appointments for national and regional teams and otherwise. Are they working in the interest of the development of United States cricket or that of their own? Every development occurring now and in the past, would lead you to believe it is the latter.

Organized cricket in this country is many decades old, but some officials are having a difficult time changing their thinking from the early days when the game was treated as a mere social activity for people who had nothing else much to do in the summer time.

Favoritism was paramount in every decision made then and despite the fact that the national ruling body now has a new constitution, a paid Chief Executive Officer and has teams playing in World Cup competitions, it still exists.
Appointments and selection of teams strictly on merit, have no place in the thinking of some people who have no qualms sacrificing professionalism for favoritism.

It is why so much stink was raised by supporters following the appointment of officials for recent teams including this very under-19 squad. Proven coaches are ignored for friends, relatives and associates.

This Under-19 team was not expected to beat Australia or South Africa, but you expected better from the players, which should’ve been enough to defeat fellow associate member nation Ireland, given the talent at the disposal of the head coach.

Now, America has no chance of finishing even among the top eight.

It is now three competitions this U.S. team has failed to live up to expectations.
In the Americas Championship last summer they were expected to win the title following the success of the previous teams, but failed to do so.

And in the World Cup qualifiers shortly afterwards they ended fifth and barely made the World Cup after a promising start.

These disappointments are not the cause of the players, but of the officials in charge of the team, and by extension those who appointed them.

Despite the good work of a few in the administration of U.S. cricket, some are undermining the development thrust.
In this case, underutilization of available officials is hurting this Under-19 team as it clear that the coaching roles in New Zealand are in wrong order.

Which brings us to the apparent blacklisting of New York coach Linden Fraser by some decision makers.

Despite carrying the best record of all U.S. coaches in national competitions including Reggie Benjamin, Fraser is being ignored for reasons clearly unrelated to cricket.

His success is based on his tremendous motivational skills and tactical acumen, yet he was never coached a national team. Add his extensive experience which started in England and his qualifications, you have the ideal candidate for any national junior or senior team.

Which is why it is time someone in high USACA office like CEO Don Lockerbie needs to put a foot down to arrest a long standing problem.

Lockerbie does not carry the mentality of the bad old days. His experience in sports administration was shaped in an environment of strict professionalism, in a non U.S. cricket environment.

He was appointed to fast forward the development of the sport, by the world ruling body (ICC) but this Under-19 team performance is a big letdown. Which is why he should insist on a thorough investigation of the handling of the squad in New Zealand.

Let him interview all the subjects involved --- the players, coaches, and the ones from Cricket Zealand from whom he negotiated to help the U.S. squad, and pick sense from nonsense.

It is the best way to start repairing the damage.

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Orin Davidson Column Homepage


You miss the point Wayne, insularity ? What are talking about? Right now you are whining about \"NY Clique\". What will you do when all these NY High school players are knocking on the door. I don\'t care what part of the USA the cricketers come from, but what is happening in NY is great for cricket in the USA.
Posted by Tom on Jan. 23rd

Tom: with a vision of insularity you won\'t achieve too much. Brian Lara identified this as the WI biggest problem. By your reasoning it should be USA vs. NY, wonder if the ICC would accept a new affiliate member in NY.
I didn\'t want to dignify Tom\'s comments with a response based on his lack of vision but we need to remember we are the USA.
Posted by Wayne on Jan. 23rd

I think the "big guys" in cricket are more concerned with themselves owning a position in the high chair of America. To produce a good team you must start with talented players. Many players that represented the U.S are good cricketers but are pushed for something they arent prepared for...You dont have to go to take the youths to foreign countries to improve cricket, that can be done here in America. When players who are averaged and selected to represents us play amongst elites how can u expect them to prosper? Cricket has to improve in America then when the hidden talents are found, we will have our own elites to combat other countries...GREAT CRICKET STARTS AT HOME WITH GREAT SUPPORT!!!
Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 23rd

FYI Wayne, NYC has a High school cricket league going into its 3rd year with over 30 school Teams. The NYPD has a youth league which had 10 Teams in its 2nd year. The USA Under 19 Teams of the future will be dominated by players from these leagues. An East vs West U 17? nope....that\'s old school, many of the NYC high school Teams could beat an East or West Under 17.
What is happening in NYC is a revolution and people will have to understand and not attribute it to any "NY clique"
Posted by Tom on Jan. 23rd

For those of you who say, "don\'t blame management, blame the players". You clearly don\'t have a good grasp of the function of management. Management\'s job is to motivate and inspire. Based on the feedback I have gotten from New Zealand, these elements were clearly lacking on this tour.There were reports of managers laying in trees, support staff showing up at pratice sessions sporting tee shirts rather than in the team\'s colors, and incidents of bad behavior by one member of the support staff. I think someone forgot to tell them they were not on vacation, but there to represent the USA. Once again, I am laying blame where it should be; on the doorstep of the USACA board. They knew this management team - with the exception of Benji from California - was not qualified for the assignment, but they put patronage before principle. One \"big Up\" cricket official from the New York area was even overheard in Fort Lauderdale at the last pratice session, saying \"we running \'tings now\" referring to the Guyanese. These kinds of statements, coming from officials are pathetic, and anyone of that mind-set should NEVER be allowed to oversee cricket operations. I hope the CEO is paying attention. I would also expect a full accounting from all the management personnel once this U-19 tour is over. The USA is getting ready to embark on another tour to Dubai and Nepal. I hope some lessons were learned for this U-19 tour. However, It doesn\'t appear that any of the board members got the memo. However, I wish the team good luck.
Posted by Jason Brigs on Jan. 23rd

For those of you who think that management and support staff is on vacation when on tour, here is what Mark Ramprakash had to say: "I required the England coach, and his support staff, to prepare me fully for the big games. I needed to organise my method, and I needed someone to talk to about it.
Posted by Andrew Singh on Jan. 23rd

You do not want to call names, but then again you referred to the management as the \"NY clique\" How is cricket going to excel in the US with this approach?? Players, coaches, and management should not be blame for failure. USACA ought to do a better job in preparing out national players for \"grand\" tournaments. This is where $$$ comes in play. Preparation requires alots of money, tours to different cricket playing nations, etc... I recalled couple years ago, Mr. Ram Varadarajan was the leading contender to become USACA President.
He was willing to contribute his own \"funds\" in USA cricket, and many did not support him. I ask why?
Posted by Youth Cricketer on Jan. 22nd

I earlier made the observation that while we were selecting our team Canada was already playing Intl warmup matches. I had very little confidence in the batting depth especially against spin, weak seam bowlers, and unfit players. Lack of prep was not there from the point of selection. None of these players should be blamed.
Management\'s job is to train, develop, motivate and inspire, this was the key and was not there. I witnessed this lack of management interaction first hand every step of the way while here in Fl. Not calling names but we could have done alot better minus the NY clique. I predict we\'ll see a repeat performance with the senior team in Dubai.
Time for accountability.
I would like to see a Under-17 competition with the boys eligible for the next U-19 WC. Prep has to begin now. Let's have a East U-17 vs. West U-17 play on going matches with good coaching starting now.
Posted by Wayne on Jan. 22nd

The USA national teams should be coached by qualified coaches that have experience in other cricket playing nations. Why do you think a partnership was formed with New Zealand?? Mr. CEO knows what he\'s doing. Don\'t be suprise if Mr. Patel and other qualified coaches are given the opportunites to excel US cricket. Maybe, this would be the BEST approach for US cricket... especially for youth cricketers.
Posted by Youth Cricketer on Jan. 22nd

i think u guys should have picked bridgepaul and abdullah in the usa team ....
Posted by Cricket Player on Jan. 22nd

Why blame the management of the team, they are not playing. The team has failed to perform at all levels. The bowling lacks penetration and the batting is nowhere as was expected. The management does not bat or bowl. You guys always try to resort to the issues that are not. Put the blame where it ought to be place on the team. The team is selected, thay take the field, they MUST perform. What the critic should be taking about is the composition of the team The captain has failed to score runs, the batsmen with the exception of two have not produced, the bowling is weak. That is where the problems lie,; with the team The problem is not the management.
Posted by John Bown on Jan. 22nd

Hello Mr. Davidson, From reading your article on the unfortunate record of ths USA U-19 in New Zealand, I get the impression that you think Mr. Fraser should be the coach and is comparing with others including Reggie Benjamin from California. No one in the world except you would think that Mr. Fraser is a better coach than Benjie. For the record Benjie has never coach the SWR U-19 team in a national tournament. So for you to make a statement of reference you should clarify that for the records. Again, I am sure that Mr. Fraser did a great job but not because your region won national tournaments the coach should be the automatically awarded the U-19 coaching position. If it was so, then the senior coach shopuld be Zamin Amin because NY won the National Senior Tournament. I am from New York and more to California a few years ago, I can tell you this Mr. Davison no one has black listed more than Benjie. So, you should do your research. I am sure after all when the squad return from NZ, it will be only fair to do a interview with Shivnarine and them Benjie. The bigger question is how many people that were interview for the coaching job? Who conducted the interview?
We all know that to be given a coaching job for USA the place of birth must be from Guyana.
I hope you will have the guts to investigate the guyana connections.

Posted by Ravi Singh on Jan. 22nd

One only has to take a look at the make-up of the management group -95% of them from a particular country - and what makes it worst, they are not even qualified to be there. nepotism, cronyism, you name it. Where is the USACA board? Why can\'t they see what every other cricket-loving person can. I hope the New Zealand fiasco is a wake-up call. But, then again, this probably wouldn\'t bother them, once their friends get appointed.What a dog-and-pony show. Mr. CEO, are you paying attention?
Posted by Jason Brigs on Jan. 21st

We are talking about Linden Fraser again. Maybe Linden should run for President of the US?? Please let us all understand that PLAYERS WIN MATCHES!!! The US U-19 boys were not well prep. One weekend in \"Sunny\" Fort Lauderdale and a few weeks in New Zealand will not cut it to compete with some of the best in the world. FAIL TO PREPARE AND PREPARE TO FAIL!!! Why should Don Lockerbie investigate the US U-19 touring party?? Is he working for the CSI?? \"It is what it is\"
Do you really think that some can put their personal \"agendas\" aside and focus on the interest of cricket?? Off course not.... We will continue to model cricket in the US as a \"social sport\" and ignore the importance of youths.
Posted by Youth Cricketer on Jan. 21st

Orin, did you believe they were going to do any better than they did? I expected the same result and could not agree with you more.Frasier should have been there.One thing they have perfect record.Lockerbie is no different.
Posted by Left Hander on Jan. 21st

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