Now, you can get all the USA Cricket updates via Facebook. Also follow us on Twitter via @dreamcricket
By Gokul Chakravarthy
Twenty20 festival had well and truly begun when USA won toss and asked
the Jamaican men in yellow to bat first at the Central Broward Regional
Park in Lauderhill, Florida on a bright Saturday morning.
Photo (left): Man of the Match and ex-West Indian international,
Marlon Samuels sizing up a delivery from Steve Massiah, Courtesy: Gokul
Lennox Cush opening the bowling for USA from the Pavilion End
indicated a bit more of a ‘winning’ gameplan as opposed to that of
gauging new players’ abilities in match situations, which was the case
in the previous match. Cush went for 7 in the 1st over but showed why
he was in his captain’s plans. Bilal Khan had his captain’s faith as
well and kept it, opening from the “TV-tower End”.
The scoreboards, announcements and other organizational aspects
around the match were also much more up to snuff from the word “go”
during this match. Much like the US team’s game plan for the 50-over
match on Friday, the organizers got a chance to test things out and
iron out the kinks for the weekend.
USA came into the match with 4 significant changes: 16-year-old
Steven Taylor, Lennox Cush, Timroy Allen and Aditya Mishra came in for
Clain Williams, Moazzam Imtiaz, Muhammed Ghous and Andy Mohammad.
Yesterday’s hero Pagon stayed yesterday’s news as he went for a
breezy 13. He was caught expertly at point by Mishra who had to go down
low and hold the briskly slashed ball from Pagon inches off the ground.
He made the catch look so ho-hum that the crowd couldn’t be blamed for
thinking it was a dot ball. Cush had his first and only victim of the
When West Indies internationals Samuels and Hinds got together and
Stanford T20 star for Guyana Cush was bowling to them, it was one of
the 1st all-star matchups of the day.
At 33/1 in 6 overs, USA’s opening bowlers had done the job for their
skipper by restricting the vastly experienced and skillful pair of
Samuels and Hinds to a below-par T20 score coming out of the powerplay.
This start was made possible by Cush’s unwieldy brand of spin, where
he jumps up to the crease and plops the ball down at almost the same
point on the pitch most of the time. It is the trajectory and pace at
which the ball travels to that point and hence from that point to the
batsman that kept changing and ended up tying the batsmen down to just
1s and 2s, at the most.
Khan bowled a consistent line and length as well and that was his
undoing as well. When in the 8th over, Wavell Hinds faced him, Khan
couldn’t quite alter that line to suit the left-hander, resulting in a
few wide balls in that over. Nevertheless, 43/1 in 8 overs would still
count as a job well done, although it wasn’t without a fair
contribution from the pitch itself.
Knowing this, Steve Massiah replaced Cush with Timroy Allen and Khan
with himself. Allen’s bowling style is of the ‘moderate’ variety to
Muhammed Ghous’ orthodox and Cush/ Massiah’s experimental. Allen had
the Hinds and Samuels in a bit of a quandary about whether or not to
take him on from his very first delivery. That indecisiveness spilled
into their running and Hinds was all but gone, having backed up a long
way from his nonstriker’s end and being sent back by Samuels. Massiah
would not accept the generous offer. His fumble at midwicket allowed
the batsman to scamper back to his ground.
At 72/1 after 12 overs, Masshaih felt comfortable enough to bring
back a bit of pace into the proceedings and he was right. This was not
to haunt him and his team for too long as, in the 13th over, Orlando
Baker’s 1st, trying to break free from the shackles of the spin twins
from both ends that had kept the a check on the scoring, Hinds spooned
up an easy catch to Adrian Gordon at long off.
Massiah bowled through his overs without much damage in terms of boundaries, but the runs were being accumulated at more
than a run-a-ball. Baker’s 2nd over changed that. A belligerent Danza
Hyatt took deflated Baker’s dough with 2 fours and a six in that over,
making the overall tally a massive 16 runs, the innings’ most fruitful.
Photo (right): West Indian international, Wavell Hinds, stroking
it "Windies-style", Courtesy: Gokul Chakravarthy, DreamCricket.com
Samuels also came to the party in the last 4 overs and the duo put
on close to 50 runs in that time, helped along generously by Gordon’s
juicy offerings at too full or too short a length, negating the
difficulties in the pitch and allowing Hyatt and Samuels to free their
arms as they saw ‘hit’.
A wicket in the last ball of the innings must have helped USA go
into the dressing room with their morale curve on an upward slope.
145/3 was going to be a tough score to chase on this sluggish pitch and
with enough spinners and slow bowlers of his own, Tamar Lambert of
Jamaica must have felt confident enough of beating the USA in their
Lambert didn’t change his tactics with the ball at the top of the
innings from the 50-over version. Andrew Richardson’s 2-for-28 from 6.5
overs and the best bowler on show the day before, Krishmar Santokie
with returns of 3-for-11 from his 7 overs, were good enough to open the
attack for him.
Massiah, on the other hand, moved Baker down in his batting order to
make way for Mishra while keeping Carl Wright where he was the previous
One pair did not disappoint its captain while the other one did.
A maiden over from Richardson to the struggling Wright was followed
up by a 2-run over from Santokie from the Makeshift-TV-tower End. Carl
Wright’s tentative loft was almost caught by the mid off fielder. When
he got back on strike later that over, he decided enough was enough and
got well under a ball from the giant of a man, Richardson and lofted it
into ‘no man’s land’ over covers for a lazily run 2. These are the
finer aspects of the sport that upcoming teams such as USA would do
well to grasp and do well in. It is often said that the shorter
versions help in leveling the playing field between opposing teams that
might otherwise have a wider gap in talent. Running between the wickets
and fielding are aspects that can leverage such shorter versions to
bridge that gap. What would have certainly been 3 runs for Test playing
batsmen was reduced to a mere 2 by the USA openers.
They rectified that once or twice in the later overs from Santokie.
Bevon Brown replaced Santokie and struck in his very first over when a
hard-hit shot from Wright was snapped up by the quick reflexes of
Samuels. Samuels then came on to replace Richardson and got a wicket
all by himself soon thereafter. Mishra played all over one from him and
was bowled for 10.
Lennox Cush, the vice-captain, joined Massiah at the fall of
Mishra’s wicket and didn’t last long either as Brown caught his loft
gone wrong, as a top-edge popped the ball way up over the pitch. A
steady Brown set himself under the ball, waited for it for what seemed
like eternity, and took the catch after its tantalizing aerial stay.
What was more entertaining was his celebration after taking that catch.
He moved backwards in short, Michael-Jackson-moonwalk-style, jerks
keeping pace with Cush alongside him as he was walking back to the
pavilion. This even brought a wry smile on Cush’ face.
But Massiah was not smiling as he and Aditya Thyagarajan got
together – the former latter was given a clean chit by the coach, Imran
Khan, the previous day while the former was considered to be still out
of form. Aditya couildn’t repeat his batting display from the previous
day as he fell for a meager 2.
Massiah struggled as he shifted between extreme caution and extreme
adventure, much to the irritation of the crowd, which was well into the
4 digits. At 67/6 in 15 overs, USA’s hopes of winning the match had
crossed over into wishful levels. From that point on, all the USA team
did was, as Marlon Samuels later put it after winning the Man of the
Match award, “worked really hard, but the Jamaican team is a much
better team and executed their plans properly.”
only bright spots for USA were the aggressive intent and execution
shown by Ashhar Mehdi and the entry to the crease of USA’s first-ever
home-born and youngest cricketer, 16-year-old prodigy, Steven Taylor.
Photo (left): The only 2 bright spots for USA, Steven Taylor and
Asshar Mehdi (stroking the ball), Courtesy: Gokul Chakravarthy,
Mehdi’s clean hitting was well-appreciated by all assembled, not the
least of which was his own skipper Massiah. His score of 28 in 20 balls
was the only thing in USA’s batting that resembled anything remotely
invoking the spirit of T20 cricket. Taylor’s sedate innings came to an
abrupt end when he was brilliantly stumped down the leg side by the
fleet-footed and even soft-handed, Carlton Baugh who has also
represented West Indies in the past. This was Baugh’s 2nd such stumping
of the day, the earlier one getting rid of Baker.
USA’s innings sauntered to a mere 98/9 in 20 overs. They could just
about stake their claim at having played out their overs but very
little more than that. When asked about his team’s game plan, Massiah
was to say “We executed our plans up until the last 2 overs, but then
they took the match away from us. Taking into consideration the fact
that we were batting on a pitch that had been used for 120 overs, it
was more difficult to bat second. There is definitely room for
improvement as we move forward. They had the luxury of having wickets
intact. When you have wickets in the last 5 overs, you can go hard. But
I thought today was a much improved performance [from us].”
asked about his own batting, he added “We haven’t played in a couple of
months an the guys are coming out of the winter. In T20 cricket, you’ve
gotta kind of improvise and hopefully throw the bowler off their line
and length. The pitch was very slow and so it was very hard. So you
couldn’t really go through the line of the ball. It didn’t work today.”
Photo (right): US Cricketers starstruck by the presence of one
of the cleanest hitter in cricket, Ross Taylor, Courtesy: Gokul
About the crowd missing out on some entertainment due to lack of
boundaries when USA batted, Massiah said “It’s unfortunate that the
crowd hasn’t been able to see the best of the America talent, but it is
only because we are going through a transition period.”