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By Peter Della Penna
On June 10, the West Indies Cricket Board announced the
introduction of a domestic Twenty20 competition. The announcement
declared that the July event will include the seven regional first
class teams in the Caribbean as well as one international team. The
winner of the tournament will go on to participate in the Champions
League Twenty20 scheduled for September in South Africa this year.
Over the weekend, Cricket Canada posted a message on their web site
announcing that they will be the international team participating in
the competition. Meanwhile, members of the USA national team that
defeated Canada on June 6 to win the first ever ICC Americas Division
One Twenty20 championship will be playing club cricket!
Full credit should go to Cricket Canada for swooping in and seizing a
golden opportunity to not only give enhanced competition to their
country’s cricketers, but also present them a chance to qualify for a
lucrative global tournament.
Many people who were in Florida for The Pearls Cup believed that having
USA play three matches against Jamaica was a great thing for the
preparation of the team before the ICC Americas Division One
Tournament, especially since the USA squad was going to have six new
players heading to Bermuda the following week. With the unavailability
of several of USA’s first choice players for the games in Bermuda,
those same players were omitted from the games against Jamaica. The
result was that USA was outclassed by a Jamaica team that cruised to a
It would have been very interesting to see whether or not a full
strength USA squad could have defeated a Jamaica team that will be one
of the seven regional teams in this West Indies tournament. The fact
that USA lost all three games might have created a stronger case for
the WICB to consider Canada ahead of USA for inclusion in the event.
At the same time, Jamaica and by extension the WICB, may have taken
into consideration the fact that USA didn’t field their best eleven.
The approach on the field in those matches was that USA was treating
the series as a set of warm-up matches before jetting off to Bermuda
rather than approaching it as a truly live contest in which they were
desperate to notch a win against a first class team. In the two games
that USA won the toss, they elected to field first. It was a clear sign
that they were not confident they could bat 50 overs or 20 overs and
that it was more important to make sure the young bowlers would have an
opportunity to bowl their full complement.
Make no mistake, USA was in all three matches. In particular, they were
in a very good position after the first innings of each Twenty20 game
against Jamaica to win both matches. USA batted last in all three
games, but at no point did they look remotely interested in making a
dash at the targets set. If USA didn’t have the most serious attitude
towards giving their guest the most competitive games possible, why
should Jamaica stump for the WICB to invite USA to the West Indies?
Jamaica could afford to not have their best players participate if they
wanted to win, USA could not.
Of course, there are challenges involved for USACA that do not exist
for other boards in terms of organizing and selecting teams. Several
players who missed out on the Bermuda tour could not go because they
could not miss another week of work so soon after having taken a month
off for the team’s February tour of the UAE and Nepal.
However, they surely would have been able to miss a day to play
against Jamaica for a weekend of games. Obviously that would have
deprived some of the players who would be going to Bermuda of getting a
chance to gel in their new roles so it is a tricky balancing act
figuring out what was the right course of action.
have been fresh in the minds of WICB administrators though that Canada
fielded a full strength outfit when they played Jamaica and the West
Indies in the Jamaica Cricket Festival this April. Canada also sent
their U-19 squad to St. Kitts in December ahead of the ICC U-19 World
Cup in New Zealand for matches against the West Indies U-19 squad.
It is crucial that USA’s players become contracted professionals as
soon as possible, something which Canada has already started to do.
USACA CEO Don Lockerbie stated in an open letter in January that he
wants to do this. In an interview for Dreamcricket.com
in February, he claimed that along with hiring a full-time national
coaching staff, professionalization of USA players “should happen in
2010.” The year is almost halfway gone, and it is not clear if
contracts for players will be offered anytime soon.
USA defeated Canada to be crowned the best Twenty20 team in the
Americas for 2010. Canada, the second best Twenty20 team in the
Americas for 2010, will be vying for a chance to go to the Champions
League Twenty20 in South Africa when they participate in the West
Indies Twenty20 tournament in July.
[Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.]