Newyorkcricket.com recently sat down to interview some of the USA senior team players, to get an insight into cricket in America from the players perspective, while also seeking some answers to the passion behind their love of the sport.
Usman is a recent graduate of Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University with an MBA in business management, but a sincere passion for the sport of cricket. He has successfully managed to share his passion for business, academics and cricket.
Here Usman Shuja, one of Team USA’s most successful opening bowlers and a very adequate batsman responds to the questions asked.
Newyorkcricket: You have been a part of Team USA since 2006, what does it mean to you to represent the USA?
SHUJA: It has been an honor to be an integral part of the US team for the past five years (since 2006). I was the highest wicket-taker in Italy and Jersey. It has always meant a great deal to represent the USA and I am very proud of my achievements.
Newyorkcricket: As a player, what’s your vision for cricket in America?
SHUJA: I would like to help the USA qualify for Division 1 and pass on the baton to the younger generation. I would like to see (and play in) a professional franchise-based league on American soil.
Newyorkcricket: Do you think that the USA cricket gets a bad rap, and if so in what way?
SHUJA: In some pockets, but I think the image has improved recently.
Newyorkcricket: What do you think USACA can do to improve the quality of the USA national teams?
SHUJA: USACA should introduce a professional cricket structure and promote a performance-based culture. It will start with raising funds to offer contracts to younger players, hire professional staff, and put in place metrics and Key Performance Indexes (KPIs) that encourage high performance.
Newyorkcricket: What is your greatest disappointment as a member of the USA National XI?
SHUJA: Not qualifying for Division 2
Newyorkcricket: What do you like most about playing and/or traveling with the USA national cricket team?
SHUJA: It is a privilege to play for the US and I am honored to do so. I have served the country with pride and enjoyed making friends. I have made long-lasting friendships in different countries and I cherish that the most.
Newyorkcricket: As a national player, how do you stay focused amidst all of the politics surrounding USA cricket?
SHUJA: I believe in preparing well and performing every time I step on the field. That has helped me stay above all the noise.
Newyorkcricket: What, if any contribution do you see yourself making to the sport in the USA, when you are no longer representing the country?
SHUJA: I have a strong interest in sports management and have a degree and experience in the sports industry. I see myself in a strategic or a professional management role to help develop cricket in the US.
Newyorkcricket: If you were not representing the USA, which other country would you have liked to represent in cricket?
Newyorkcricket: What other sport do you play or enjoy?
SHUJA: Football, golf, and squash.
Newyorkcricket: Which of your fellow national team members do you admire the most, and why?
SHUJA: I respect all the core members of the team. They are all great individuals.
Newyorkcricket: Can you remember the moment you found out you had been picked for USA senior team?
SHUJA: Yes, the first time I was picked I was almost at the verge of crying.
Newyorkcricket: How big an achievement was it to play for the USA senior team?
SHUJA: For me, it was an important goal and big achievement, because I consider it one of my top-three achievements in life.
Newyorkcricket: Tell us how you got started playing cricket?
SHUJA: My dad played first-class cricket, so it is in the blood. I started very early in the backyard.
Newyorkcricket: What are your memories of growing up in Karachi?
SHUJA: They are all fond memories – skipping classes, sneaking out of the house to play cricket. I did not realize how passionate I was about cricket until I moved here. Karachi is a great place to learn cricket.