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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
USACA has selected a 14-player squad for the 2012 ICC Americas Women’s Twenty20 Championship to be played from April 23-28 in the Cayman Islands. Five players were left out from the squad that finished in eighth place last November at the 2011 ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh. The USA roster was obtained Thursday from an ICC Americas spokesperson.
Candacy Atkins was one of four players coming into the squad who did not go with USA to Bangladesh in November. Atkins was one of several players who wound up staying home from the tour after a dispute over tour stipends between women’s players and USACA. Atkins not only comes back into USA’s squad for the Cayman Islands tour but was also named captain of the team, replacing Doris Francis who was left out of the roster.
The other players missing out are Joan Alexander, Grace Richards, Durga Das and teenage sensation Shebani Bhaskar, who was USA’s leading scorer in Bangladesh. Bhaskar scored a half-century in USA’s one-run win over Zimbabwe at the Women’s World Cup Qualifier, but according to a source she could not get approval to miss classes from her high school in India to participate in this tournament.
Melissa Sandy and Karen Bayles are two players who are in line to make their debuts for USA at this tournament. The 20-year-old Sandy has previously represented Trinidad & Tobago. She scored 79 off 60 balls against the Hollywood Rebels at the 2011 USACA Women’s National Tournament in New York. Bayles is one of five Tri-State Lynx players, including Atkins, that are a part of this USA roster.
The most curious selection in the squad is Sahar Azmat. At the 2011 USACA Women’s National Tournament in New York, Azmat was ripped apart by the Tri-State Lynx batting lineup. In 10 overs, she returned figures of 1 for 128. Azmat was out for 1 in the only innings she batted in at the tournament.
It is unclear who in the USACA administration was involved in selecting this squad. The 2012 USACA Women’s National Tournament, originally scheduled for March 9-11, never happened and a selection camp to identify talent never occurred either. A coaching staff and management team has not yet been announced by USACA. It is also unclear if the team will play any warm-up games ahead of the tournament.
USA plays the hosts Cayman Islands on the first day of the tournament before squaring off against Brazil on April 24. USA then plays Argentina on April 25 before a rest day on April 26. On Friday, April 27, USA takes on Bermuda and then ends the tournament on April 28 by playing Canada.
The winner of the tournament advances to the 2013 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier, which will be a 10-team event. A date and location for next year’s qualifier have yet to be determined by the ICC.
USA squad for 2012 ICC Americas Women's Twenty20 Championship: Candacy Atkins (captain), Anahita Arora, Sahar Azmat, Karen Bayles, Claudine Beckford, Ritu Bhargava, Sara Farooq, Nadia Gruny, Triholder Marshall, Samantha Ramautar, Akshatha Rao, Erica Rendler, Melissa Sandy, Delkash Shahriarian.