Not unsurprisingly, the pride of NY youth cricket, Greg Sewdial, has returned to claim his crown, the captaincy of the US U19 team. Move over Abhijit Joshi -- you only won 5 out of 5 matches as captain in the ICC Americas Tournament! There is now the added risk that Joshi may not make it to the playing XI if random acts of blindness continue, courtesy Sew and his wing men.
June 28, 2011
The New York region got three new players into the US 14 -- Greg Sewdial, Amarnauth Persaud, and Prashanth Nair made it in at the expense of Fahad Babar of CER (who withdrew), Kalim Ahmed and Waleed Karimullah of the Atlantic region. Greg Sewdial who did play in the 2010 U19 World Cup is coming back from serious injuries and his fitness levels have been a concern as well as his lack of match practice. Amarnauth Persaud is a bowling all-rounder and Prashanth Nair is a left arm spinner, both of whom did not shine in the Eastern Conference U19 matches in 2010. It does appear that the Kalim Ahmed has been dropped for no specific reason from the 14 just as his Atlantic region mate Waleed Karimullah didn't make the cut for the 18 even though he was never given a match.
The 14 sports multiple openers in Stephen Taylor, Cameron Mirza, Jodhbir Singh, Trevor Singh, Abhijit Joshi and Salman Ahmad, some of whom will surely be shifted to the middle order. Greg Sewdial and Pranay Suri are the only two true middle order batsmen. Pacers are Hamad Shahid, Salman Ahmad, Mittal Patel, and Amarnauth Persaud. Shayan Abdulgyani and Prashanth Nair are left arm off-spinners while Gurpreet Sandhu is a leg spinner. The only off-spinner (if they choose to use him as one) is Pranay Suri. There is no spare wicket keeper in the 14.
The matches against the West Indian U19 team starting in a couple of weeks will be a good test of how this team can stand up to quality opposition.
June 17, 2011
Surprise, surprise! The wise men of US Cricket, the selectors, Sew Shivnarine, Abrar Ahmed, and Sunny Khan decided on the following eighteen for the U19. (Hopefully, no one else participated as rumored.)
Shayan Abdul Ghani, Salman Ahmad. Kalim Ahmed, Sohaib Choudhry, Abhijit Joshi, Cameron Mirza, Prashant Nair, Prumjot Panesar, Mital Patel, Amarnauth Persaud, Gurpreet Sandhu, Gregory Raj Sewdial, Hammad Shahid, Trevor Singh, Jodhbir Singh, Jasdeep Singh, Pranay Suri and Steven Taylor.
So what we have is the same 14 as was selected for the ICC Americas tournament with Greg Sewdial coming in for Babar (who apparently made himself unavailable) and three bowlers and a keeper -- Sohaib Choudhry, Amarnauth Persaud, Jasdeep Singh (all bowlers) and Prumjot Panesar (who kept for NWR but is a lower-middle order batsman).
Several technically-strong batsmen (notably Akash Jagannathan and Krish Goel) in the group of 20 (and who happened to be in the reserves for the ICC Americas Tournament) despite their commendable performances in the U19 tournaments and camps were kept out for reasons only known to the selectors. This despite the well-established need for more batting in the team. One explanation that seems to make more and more sense is that Sew (the dominant selector as the other two are not as confident of their cricketing knowledge, I am told) is not keen on any batsman who is a grafter/anchor/accumulator. He likes the ones who can send the ball into orbit and if you look at the batsmen, there are none who will qualify as grafters/anchors/accumulators.
If you want to go by regional counts -- NER - 0, NY - 5, Atlantic - 4, SER- 1, CER - 2, CWR - 0, SWR - 3, NWR - 3. What stands out is that selector Shivnarine's region (NY) has five players who I would expect to make it into the 14.
As for competition at the qualifiers, Afghanistan and Nepal are expected to be quite strong along with Ireland and Scotland who will be experiencing home conditions for the most part. Canada will be stronger than the team at ICC Americas given that three of the U19s who were with the senior squad at the CWC in South Asia will be back. Not much is known about the remaining teams but Hong Kong has a good U19 setup and they can be expected to be competitive.
Realistically, USA's chances of finishing in the top six to qualify for 2012 U19 World Cup in Australia is not that great. It almost entirely depends on the one or two technically-strong batsmen that they have striking form and performing at a high level assuming their bowling clicks and fielding is upto snuff.
June 15, 2011
Approximately 20 U19 players from different parts of the country made their way to New York to go through a new set of USACA-sponsored trials to "fine tune" the U19 fourteen that finished first in the ICC Americas U19 event in Florida back in February 2011. The west coasters were made to take a red eye to get in early Saturday to some wet weather but the weather got better on Sunday so some assessment was possible although clearly not ideal.
From the February ICC Americas tournament, it has been a consensus view among keen observers of youth cricket around the country that what the team lacks is batting depth as it moves to stiffer competition of the ICC Global Qualifiers. What the team can really use is some top/middle-order batting depth in exchange for the one or two extra bowlers they have. It can also use a reserve keeper-batsman given that the only keeper the team has, regularly opens the batting to try to give them a flying start.
The eighteen will be announced this week from which the fourteen will be announced by the end of June, apparently in consultation with coach Robin Singh who disappointingly was not at the trials. Lets hope that the selectors balance the side, keeping in mind the challenging batting conditions and much better competition they can fully expect to face in Ireland.