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By Peter Della Penna
Although the USACA 2010 Junior Nationals were officially canceled,
three matches were still played at Woodley Park last week in order to
give players a chance to be evaluated by selectors. Players were
competing not only for their respective regions, but for a chance to be
selected to play for the United States in the ICC Americas U-19 Division
One tournament in February, the first step in 2012 ICC U-19 World Cup
qualification for USA.
were several players who performed incredibly well, but are too old to
participate for USA during any qualification tournaments in the leadup
to the 2012 U-19 World Cup. Zain Ali Syed, Haramandeep Kumar and Zulkifl
Nana displayed a high level of skill at Woodley Park in last week’s
trial matches. Syed has already played for the South East Region senior
team and if Kumar and Nana keep developing, they will be promising
prospects for future selection in the North West senior squad as well.
Image (left) - South West U-19 vice-captain and USA 2010 U-19 World Cup squad member Salman Ahmad. [Copyright: DreamCricket.com]
It is widely expected
that four of the players from the 2010 U-19 World Cup squad – Salman
Ahmad, Abhijit Joshi, Hammad Shahid and Steven Taylor – will be picked
in the 14-man USA squad for next month’s U-19 tournament in Florida. A
fifth player, Greg Sewdial, is eligible but is currently out until at
least April after recently undergoing his second ankle surgery in seven
Image (right) - South West U-19 captain and USA 2010 U-19 World Cup squad member Hammad Shahid. [Copyright: DreamCricket.com]
Sewdial had ankle surgery in May to correct a ligament injury he
sustained before the 2009 U-19 National Championship and just had a
second surgery on December 28 after the first surgery failed to correct
the problem. He currently faces three months of rehab after the most
recent surgery, but if USA produces a top-two finish in Florida next
month, Sewdial hopes he will be fit enough to rejoin USA’s U-19 team for
the Global Qualifier in July.
Therefore, it is expected that 10 spots are still up for grabs for
USA’s roster that will take on Argentina, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada and
Cayman Islands in February. Here are the top five age-eligible players
from the trial matches at Woodley Park who could be first time
selections to USA’s U-19 team.
(According to ICC rules, players eligible to compete for Associate
countries in the 2012 ICC U-19 World Cup must be born on or after
September 1, 1991. In addition to this, ICC rules state that all U-19
Qualifiers must be played by teams/players who are eligible to play in
the U-19 World Cup the qualifier is for – i.e. for the 2012 U-19 World
Cup, the Regional Qualifier played in 2010-11 must be played by players
eligible to play in the 2012 U-19 World Cup.)
1. Pranay Suri, North West (left) –
The North West captain showed tremendous skill in running through both
the South West and South East batting lineups to take eight wickets in
two days. Perhaps the most impressive part of the off-spinner’s 5-wicket
haul against South East was that it was done on a very cold and windy
day with a temperature in the high 40s, making it difficult for bowlers
to grip the ball. If USA makes it to the Global Qualifier in Ireland,
the ability to adjust to varying conditions will be key because it’s
very possible USA will encounter similar weather there.
2. Shayan Ahmed, South West (right)
– Left-arm orthodox spin played a vital role in USA’s success at both
qualification rounds in Canada in 2009 and Ahmed would fill that role
for very nicely for USA in its attempt to qualify during 2011. He is
physically gifted and has a smooth action with perfect flight and drift.
He took four wickets in two games last week to lead his team and also
scored the most runs for them in the trial matches. Ahmed could make a
big impact for USA if selected.
3. Jodhbir Singh, North West (left) –
Got out second ball to Shahid in the first match, but came back on
Thursday to notch 50 against South East. He scored a century against
South West in August. Equally adept against pace or spin, he should be a
shoe-in for USA’s 14-man squad for Florida.
4. Sunil Deopersaud, South East – The leg-spinner
from Florida quietly took three wickets on the weekend, but bowled
better than his figures showed. It would have been interesting to see
how many more runs would have been saved, and wickets taken, had he been
bowling with eleven men in the field instead of nine.
5. Kwiese Edmondson, South East – He’s still very
young and was a part of USA’s U-15 squad in 2009, but Edmondson exudes
plenty of confidence at the crease and looks capable of stepping into
international cricket at the U-19 level. Being a left-handed batsman is a
plus and he demonstrated an excellent technique at the crease but twice
got out to soft dismissals when he looked set for a big score. With
increased discipline and maturity, Edmondson could be a menace to
bowlers and might be worth a selection gamble.
Here are five talented players who might find it difficult to squeeze
into this year’s team, but are still young enough to be eligible to
make major contributions in USA’s U-19 team for a qualifying run to the
2014 U-19 World Cup. At the very least, these five players have a good
chance of being invited to the 24-man selection camp that USACA is
organizing to take place in Florida in the middle of this month before
the final 14 players are picked.
1. Krish Goel, North West (right) –
A talented allrounder, Goel scored 79 not out against Central East in
August but in his two chances in December he didn’t do as much as he
could have. He needs to knuckle down and show more hunger for runs. His
spin bowling is effective and his fielding is top-notch just like most
of his North West teammates. Of the five players in this list, he may
have the best chance of making it to USA’s squad due to the need for
2. Roshan Varadarajan, North West (left) –
North West’s U-15 captain the past few years, he may turn into an
excellent off-spinner, but shouldn’t give up on his batting. He also has
a reputation as a top fielder. Varadarajan has an outside chance to get
picked for this year’s team, but at the moment there is a surplus of
bowlers and not enough good batsmen so he may have to wait his turn.
3. Shakeel Ahmad, South West (right) –
Salman’s younger brother could eventually develop into the better
Ahmad. He is technically solid as a batsman, but still has some growing
left to do. In two years, he will be bigger, stronger and able to
dispatch balls to the boundary with ease.
4. Arsh Buch, North West (left) –
Just like Shakeel Ahmad, Buch does all the right things from a
technical point of view, but isn’t physically imposing. In two more
years, he should be bigger and 100% ready to dominate at the U-19 level.
5. Faraz Jaferi, South East – This left-arm orthodox
spinner has very nice flight, but batsmen have time to play him off the
back foot. With a little more experience, he’ll find it easier to find
the outside edge and get more wickets.
[Views expressed in this article are those of the author.]