By Peter Della Penna
surprises are in a 14-man squad selected for USA as they attempt to
become repeat champions of the ICC Americas Division One Tournament at
the end of the month in Bermuda. Six new players will be in the squad,
including two players from USA’s 2010 U-19 World Cup squad in New
Zealand. The squad will be coached by Clayton Lambert and managed by
Imran Khan with Akhtar Masood “Chik” Syed going along as the team
Pic (Right): Andy Mohammed hooks on his way to a heroic 70 in the match against Australia [Picture Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia]
Andy Mohammed, Muhammad Ghous, Ashhar Mehdi, Bilal Khan, Adrian Gordon
and Moazzam Imtiaz are the fresh faces who will be representing USA
from May 29-June 7 in Bermuda to play a series of 50-over matches
followed by a two-day Twenty20 tournament against Canada, Argentina,
Cayman Islands, Bahamas and the host team. Several of the matches will
be telecast live on Fresh TV (www.Fresh.bm).
The group of 14 will also be playing two matches against Jamaica in
Florida on May 21 and 22 prior to departing for Bermuda. Glen Hall,
Clain Williams, Saurabh Verma, Usman Shuja, Kevin Darlington, Sudesh
Dhaniram and Imran Awan are the members from February’s touring squad
that will not be traveling to Bermuda.
Ghous and Mohammed will be the youngest players in the new look squad.
Ghous turned 20 on the first day of the trials that took place in New
York on April 24-25 while Mohammed is still a teenager at 19. Ghous had
an impressive 3.77 economy rate bowling off-spin in New Zealand while
Mohammed produced USA’s highest individual batting performances at the
U-19 World Cup Qualifier in Toronto as well as the main event, scoring
90 against Afghanistan in September and 70 against Australia in
January. The addition of Mohammed also gives the team another sorely
needed left-handed batsman as Sushil Nadkarni was the only one in USA’s
touring squad to the UAE and Nepal.
Ghous will be relied upon to fill the role of containing off-spinner
formerly occupied by 43-year-old Dhaniram, who is still recovering
after a broken finger sustained while diving for a catch vs. Singapore
at the World Cricket League Division Five. The leg-spinner Verma
suffered a back injury playing against the MCC in California in March
and more recently broke a finger playing in a North West Cricket League
match so was unavailable for selection. Mohammed comes in for Hall, who
has a nagging leg injury, and Williams.
Ashhar Mehdi has been included as a wicketkeeper. The 34-year old from
the Central East Region had the highest score at USACA Nationals in
November with 80 in a losing cause versus New York in the championship
match. He will provide relief behind the stumps for Carl Wright, who
battled with a hand injury in Nepal, and for Orlando Baker who will be
able to focus more on bowling and batting after having to keep wicket
in Nepal due to Wright’s injury.
Bilal Khan makes the cut along with Adrian Gordon in a new look fast
bowling attack. The 28-year-old Khan was never far from selectors
thoughts after impressing with 9 wickets in three matches bowling
right-arm fast-medium for the North West Region at the Western
Conference Tournament in Minneapolis, Minn., last year. Gordon, a
22-year-old international student at NYU-Poly, took three wickets
against the South East Region in the Eastern Conference Tournament in
Washington, D.C., last July and is currently one of the fastest bowlers
in the country. Darlington is unavailable due to work and Shuja because
of graduation from Kellogg.
Awan’s non-selection is believed to be a result of his poor
performances in February. Of the nine bowlers USA used in Nepal, Awan
had the most wides bowled (15) in his 13 overs. His fielding was
erratic and he dropped numerous chances which frustrated his teammates.
most curious selection is that of Moazzam Imtiaz, especially ahead of
players such as Ravi Timbawala and Akeem Dodson. The non-selection of
Timbawala and Dodson, members of USA’s 2006 U-19 World Cup squad, means
that there are still no American-born players in the squad.
Pic (Left): Muhammad Asad Ghous [Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia]
Imtiaz only played one of three matches for South East at the Eastern
Conference Tournament in 2009 and was not in the November 40-man list
of probables for selection to represent USA on the tour of the UAE and
Nepal. He played for the South East versus the MCC in March, coming in
at number 10 in the Twenty20 match to score 1 run and did not bowl.
In the 50-over game, he was the seventh bowler used, bowling three
overs of medium pace for 14 runs without taking a wicket and scored 11
not out coming in at number eight. Imtiaz is currently ranked 31st in
the top run scorers column for the Florida Southeast Cricket League
(FSCL) with 171 runs and a high score of 51 to go along with 5 wickets
in eight matches.
Imtiaz plays for Coconut Creek Vikings in his league, a team that is
captained by FSCL president Rizwan Mohammed and vice-captained by
former USA player and South East Region USACA Board member Nasir
USA squad: Steve Massiah (captain, NY), Ashhar Mehdi (wk, Central
East), Carl Wright (wk, NY), Timroy Allen (South East), Orlando Baker
(Central West), Lennox Cush (NY), Muhammad Ghous (Atlantic), Adrian
Gordon (Atlantic), Moazzam Imtiaz (South East), Bilal Khan (North
West), Rashard Marshall (New York), Andy Mohammed (North East), Sushil
Nadkarni (Central West), Aditya Thyagarajan (South West).
Manager: Imran Khan
Coach: Clayton Lambert
Physio: Akhtar “Chik” Masood Syed
National Team Selectors: Abrar Ahmad (Western Region), Mohammad Sunny
Khan (Central East Region), Sew Shivnarine (New York Region).