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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
The USA Women’s team will be working at less than full strength for
the second tournament in a row as several first-choice players could not
make the trip to the Cayman Islands for this week’s 2012 ICC Americas
Women’s Twenty20 Championship. The winner of the round-robin event
featuring Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands and USA
will clinch a spot at the 2013 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier.
tournament figures to be a two-horse race between the USA and Canada.
USA went to the 2011 ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier after beating
Canada in a three-match 50-over challenge series at Toronto in July
2010. However, Canada swept USA convincingly in a pair of Twenty20
matches on the same 2010 tour and enters this tournament as the likely
favorite to come out on top.
Of greater concern for USA is team stability and chemistry. Last
November, a half-dozen players stayed home after a dispute with USACA
over tour stipends for the 2011 ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in
Bangladesh. At least four first-choice players won’t be going to the
Cayman Islands either and six changes overall have been made from the
squad that went to Bangladesh.
Shebani Bhaskar, USA’s leading scorer in Bangladesh, is unavailable
due to school commitments. Also staying home are the second and third
leading scorers from the tour to Bangladesh, Erica Rendler and former
captain Doris Francis, as well as Ritu Bhargava.
On the positive side, Triholder Marshall and Samantha Ramautar, USA’s
top two wicket-takers from the Bangladesh tour, have made the trip to
the Cayman Islands. Ramautar was also USA’s most economical bowler in
Bangladesh with 4.28 runs per over and the off-spinner bowled the most
overs on tour with 50 in six matches.
Another plus is the return of Candacy Atkins. One of the top
performers at the 2011 USACA Women’s Tournament, Atkins was also a vital
member of the USA Women’s team in 2010 that beat Canada in the
three-match 50-over series. However, she was one of the players who
stayed home from going to Bangladesh after the dispute over stipends.
Not only is she returning to the squad, but she will captain the team.
USA will need major contributions from Atkins to have any shot at
finishing in first place.
Atkins needs to step up to help bridge the gap that exists between
senior players and very inexperienced ones. Five players have yet to
make their debuts for USA. They include Sahar Azmat, Karen Bayles,
Beulah Pidakala, Melissa Sandy and Geetha Shawkarla. Sandy formerly
represented Trinidad & Tobago before moving to the USA and Bayles
turned in decent but not great stats at the 2011 USACA Women’s
Azmat and Pidakala were bizarrely selected despite a total of four
runs in three innings between the two at the 2011 USACA Women’s
Tournament while Azmat had bowling figures of 1 for 128 in one match
against the tournament champion Tri-State Lynx squad. Shawkarla didn’t
participate in the USACA Women’s Tournament in 2011.
The team will be coached by Basil Butcher Jr. Other members of the
management team are manager Jacqueline Frank, Selwyn Caesar and Brian
Jackson. USACA has not made any formal announcement about what roles
Caesar and Jackson are serving on tour.
USA squad for 2012 ICC Americas Women's Twenty20 Championship:
Candacy Atkins (captain), Anahita Arora, Sahar Azmat, Karen Bayles,
Claudine Beckford, Sara Farooq, Nadia Gruny, Triholder Marshall, Beulah
Pidakala, Samantha Ramautar, Akshatha Rao, Melissa Sandy, Delkash
Shahriarian, Geetha Shawkarla.
USA’s schedule at the 2012 ICC Americas Women’s Twenty20 Championship
Monday, March 23 – vs. Cayman Islands at 3:30 p.m. EST
Tuesday, March 24 – vs. Brazil at 11:30 a.m. EST
Wednesday, March 25 – vs. Argentina at 11:30 a.m. EST
Friday, March 27 – vs. Bermuda at 3:30 p.m. EST
Saturday, March 28 – vs. Canada at 3:30 p.m. EST