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By Peter Della Penna
The USA Cricket Association U-15 National Tournament in Newark, N.J., gave an opportunity for some of America’s best young cricketers to showcase their talents. After witnessing all four days of the tournament and poring through the statistics, I've decided to name the All-Tournament XI based on the performances and achievements during the tournament.
When compiling the list, several factors were taken into consideration. First, I took into account the statistical achievements of the players involved since they are the most tangible proof of a player’s contributions to their team.
As such, there will be players left off the team who may be viewed by their coaches as more talented than players who made the team, but just did not perform that well over the four days or did not get as many chances to play.
Second, when choices between players with similar stats became close, more weight was given to performances against better opponents. For example, a player who scored runs or took wickets in a match against New York or North West, who finished at the top of their respective groups, was deemed to have turned in a more impressive performance compared to runs or wickets against the last place team in their group.
Third, these two factors are combined with what I saw with my own eyes. This was not just the runs or wickets they took, but how they did it. It includes match situations and technique exhibited, as well as the talent they had surrounding them which could have affected how they performed.
Finally, I tried to select a balanced XI. If the five highest wicket takers in the tournament turned out to be spinners, not all five would stand a chance of making the team as there needs to be pace bowlers to support them. Likewise, if the four highest scorers in the tournament were opening batsmen, only two of them can be slotted into a role on an All-Tournament team as an opener.
1. Arsh Buch, right-hand batsman, North West – Buch won the Best Batsman award as well as the Tournament MVP by scoring 259 runs at 86.33 with one half-century (87 vs. South East) and one century (110 not out vs. North East). He played a key role at the top of the order in leading North West to the tournament title.
Pic (Right): Arsh Buch was named Tournament MVP
Buch also opened the bowling for his team, taking three wickets with left-arm slow-medium pace, including the first two wickets in the final against New York.
2. Zahib Tariq, right-hand batsman/right-arm off-spin, New York – Scored 186 runs at 93.00 with one half-century (57 not out vs. Central East) and one century (112 not out vs. South West).
Pic (Left): Tariq scored one century and one half-century in the tournament
Tariq demonstrated outstanding temperament at the crease and was perhaps the most complete cricketer in the tournament, a major reason why New York nearly won the title before falling short in the final against North West where he was cruelly run out. He took 7 for 72 in the tournament at an average of 10.29 and also played at times as a wicketkeeper. Tariq plays in the NY PSAL for Franklin D. Roosevelt HS.
3. Shakeel Ahmad, right-hand batsman, South West – Scored 182 runs at 60.67 with two half-centuries (72 vs. Directors’ XI; 60 not out vs. South East). Ahmad was the fourth highest run-scorer in the tournament on the fifth-place team, where he sometimes lacked support around him.
Pic (Right): Ahmad scored two half-centuries and took four wickets for South West
Ahmad top-scored for South West in all of their matches and would have scored even more in a team with better batting depth. Also took four wickets alternating between leg-spin and off-spin.
4. Randall Wilson, right-hand batsman/right-arm medium, New York – Had the most runs for all batsmen after the group stage and finished second overall with 239 runs at 119.50 with one half-century (61 not out vs. Central East) and one century (163 not out vs. Directors’ XI).
Pic (Left): Randall Wilson scored 239 runs, which made him the second-ranked batsman
A well-built player who also opened the bowling for New York, Wilson took four wickets and was arguably the fastest bowler in the tournament. He also plays in the NY PSAL for John Adams HS.
5. Trevis Ross (vice-captain), left-hand batsman/right-arm off-spin, New York – One of the best performing players for USA at the ICC Americas U-15 Tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., last August, Ross didn’t have to bat much in group play as his teammates Tariq and Wilson racked up the runs.
Pic (Right): NY Captain Trevis Ross scored 70 under pressure and took 6 for 71
But New York’s captain contributed when it mattered, scoring 70 under pressure in the championship match against North West. He averaged 36.33 at the crease with 109 total runs and took 6 for 71 bowling tidy off-spin in the tournament.
6. Rohit Mogalayapalli, right-hand batsman, Central East – Scored 148 runs at 37.00 including one half-century (68 vs. Directors’ XI) to help lead CER to a third place finish.
Pic (Left): Mogalayapalli was Central East's leading scorer
The 13-year-old is the youngest player in the All-Tournament XI. He is a very technically sound batsman with one of the best cut shots on display in the tournament. Mogalayapalli also took two wickets.
7. Dave Parikh, left-hand batsman/left-arm slow-medium, North West – Quietly played a pivotal role for the tournament champions. Parikh scored 139 runs at 46.33 with two half-centuries (51 vs. North East; 74 not out vs. New York).
Pic (Right): Parikh played a pivotal role in the final
Parikh also did more than his share with the ball by taking 6 for 41 in the tournament.
8. Roshan Varadarajan (captain), right-arm off-spin/right-hand batsman, North West – USA’s vice-captain at the ICC Americas U-15 Tournament last year, Varadarajan was superb in captaining North West to the their third straight U-15 title. He scored 101 runs at 33.67 with one half-century (54 not out vs. North East).
Pic (Left): Varadarajan scored 101 at 33.67 and took 9 for 59
Varadarajan could have scored more runs, but playing for North West’s stacked lineup in the middle order, he often came in with not much time to bat. With the ball, he contained and attacked at once. Varadarajan took 9 for 59, with three maidens in 18 overs to land at number three in the wickets column for the tournament. He had a 3.28 economy rate and 6.56 average.
9. Gordon Makin, wicketkeeper/right-hand batsman, Central East – Makin stood above the rest at the wicketkeeper position. He kept adequately behind the stumps to a bowling attack that almost exclusively used spin, completing three stumpings and teaming up for two runouts.
Pic (Right): Makin kept wicket adequately and scored the most runs for any keeper
The 14-year-old Mill Creek (Mich.) Middle School student finished with far and away the most runs for any keeper in the event with 106 runs at 26.50 and scored one half-century (57 vs. South West).
10. Ryan Persaud, right-arm leg-spin/right-hand batsman, Atlantic – A lethal leg-spinner, Persaud’s perfect flight and sharp turn caused problems for every team he faced. His performances with the ball were consistent as he took at least three wickets in all four games.
Pic (Left): Persaud took 13 wickets and was named the tournament's Best Bowler in addition to scoring 139 runs
Persaud claimed 13 scalps for 48 runs at an average of 3.69 with an economy rate of 1.99 in 24.1 overs to be named the tournament’s Best Bowler. His top performance with the ball was 4 for 15 in 6.2 overs against eventual tournament champion North West, the best figures any bowler turned in against the title winners. With the bat, he scored 139 runs at an average of 34.75 including one half-century (75 vs. South East).
11. Harish Saikara, right-arm medium, Directors’ XI – Overlooked for the Atlantic Region squad, Saikara finished as the leading wicket-taker for all pace bowlers in the tournament with 10 for 162, the second most wickets overall behind only Persaud. His slingshot action caused problems for many batsmen.
Pic (Right): Harish took 5 for 56 against New York - four were clean bowled
Saikara’s best performance was 5 for 56 against New York, with four of the five clean bowled. His runs conceded are skewed because Directors’ XI played three of their four games on a Branch Brook Park pitch with a very short (35-40 yards) boundary on the west side of the ground.
There are also five players who performed well to deserve honorable mention but did not make the list above, in some cases due to a close call. They are named in no particular order.
Rishi Patel, right-hand batsman/right-arm leg-spin, Atlantic – Patel finished tied for fourth in the wickets column with 8 for 51 and scored 55 runs for the fourth place team in the tournament.
Pic (Left): Patel, one half of the Atlantic leg-spinner duo, tied for fourth in the wickets column
In the crucial match against the eventual champion North West, Patel accounted for three of the seven wickets to fall to leg-spin. While Patel finished with 3 for 15 in four overs, Persaud took 4 for 15 in 6.2 overs. Against South East, Patel scored 41 as an opener and took 4 for 16 in six overs.
Vivek Barbhaiya, wicketkeeper/right-hand batsman, Directors’ XI – Turned in an outstanding performance behind the stumps against Central East, taking two catches and completing four stumpings to have the most dismissals for any player in a single game.
Pic (Right): Barbhaiya finished with the most dismissals and had 58 runs in the tournament
Barbhaiya topped all wicketkeepers with 10 dismissals overall in the form of three catches and seven stumpings. Barbhaiya top-scored with 30 against New York and had 58 runs in the tournament. The 13-year-old kept wicket for the first time in a match less than a month ago at the U-13 Tournament hosted by California Cricket Academy in Cupertino, Calif.
Pic (Left): Faraz Jaferi made a half-century and took six wickets
Faraz Jaferi, right-hand batsman/left-arm orthodox spin, South East – Scored 98 runs at an average of 32.67 including one half-century (66 not out vs. North East) where he was named Man of the Match. He took 6 for 93 bowling left-arm spin without much help around him.
Raymond Ramrattan, right-hand batsman/right-arm leg-spin, Directors’ XI – One of the youngest players in the tournament, the 10-year-old finished tied for fourth in the wickets column with 8 for 139.
Pic (Right): Ten-year-old Ramrattan tied for fourth in the wickets column
He was named Man of the Match in his team’s victory over North East in the seventh place game where he took 3 for 24 and scored 28 runs before being run out and finished with 57 total runs in four matches. His runs conceded are skewed because his team played three of their four games on the smaller Branch Brook Park pitch.
Nauman Khan, right-arm leg-spin, Central East – The 13-year-old opened the bowling as a leg-spinner in two of four matches for CER showing tremendous control and kept pressure on his opponents. He took 5 for 77 in 28 overs with six maidens. [Photo not available for this player]
In addition to picking an All-Tournament XI, I have ranked the top five players from this event who will have an impact at the U-19 level. Some may push for spots in next year’s USA squad that will be attempting to qualify for the 2012 ICC U-19 World Cup.
1. Zahib Tariq – His game was more polished than anyone else in the tournament. He never looks like getting out and paces his innings remarkably well. Tariq is very athletic and can do anything on the field.
2. Ryan Persaud – Quality leg-spin is hard to find, which makes Persaud worth his weight in gold. Not only is he a wicket-taker, his accuracy is remarkable for a leggie.
3. Roshan Varadarajan – Another player who does everything well. He is extremely valuable in the middle order for his ability to play spin, which most players at this level struggle with. His bowling was superb and he fields like a tiger in the circle.
4. Trevis Ross – Didn’t have to do much with so many good players around him, but showed his class in the final. Being left-handed at the crease also helps his case.
5. Arsh Buch – One of the most technically sound batsmen in the tournament, there is no debating the weight of runs he scored. He will be even better once he fills out his frame.
Top five run-scorers in the tournament
Arsh Buch, North West – 259, 86.33 AVG, one 50, one 100, top score 110 not out
Randall Wilson, New York – 239, 119.50 AVG, one 50, one 100, top score 163 not out
Zahib Tariq, New York – 186, 93.00 AVG, one 50, one 100, top score 112 not out
Shakeel Ahmad, South West – 182, 60.67 AVG, two 50s, top score 72
Rohit Mogalayapalli, Central East – 148, 37.00 AVG, one 50, top score 68
Top five wicket-takers in the tournament
Ryan Persaud, Atlantic – 13 wickets, 24.1 overs, 48 runs, 4 maidens
Harish Saikara, Directors’ XI – 10 wickets, 28 overs, 162 runs, 1 maiden
Roshan Varadarajan, North West – 9 wickets, 18 overs, 59 runs, 3 maidens
Rishi Patel, Atlantic – 8 wickets, 15 overs, 51 runs, 2 maidens
Raymond Ramrattan, Directors’ XI – 8 wickets, 31 overs, 139 runs, 2 maidens
[Views expressed in the article are those of the author. If you have differing views on one or all players, please use the comments section. As the author has stated, there were players that did not get a chance to play to their potential either due to match situations, squad selection or injury, which is why this is an All-Tournament XI. To name an All-American XI, as the USA Cricket Association has done at the U-19 level, a more complete analysis of academy-level or league-level statistics would be necessary.]