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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
Batting: USA’s batsmen got off to plenty of decent starts, but hardly any of those starts were converted into a meaningful score. USA had one half-century by Timil Patel in the final Twenty20 match. In comparison, Canada’s batsmen contributed five half-centuries over the four games: two by Raza-ur-Rehman, and one each by Usman Limbada, Hiral Patel and Rizwan Cheema.
In the two-day match, three players made it to 20 – Timothy Surujbally, Karan Ganesh and Ryan Corns – but none of them made it to 30. The pattern was repeated in the 50-over game by Surujbally, Patel, Neil McGarrell and Barrington Bartley, then again in the first Twenty20 by Surujbally and Nicholas Standford. Canada’s players were more determined to make their starts count while USA’s players wasted theirs far too often.
In the 50-over match, USA racked up a stunning number of dot balls, 216 to be exact, almost 70% of the total deliveries in the innings. In the 35 non-power play overs, USA scored just 41 singles which highlights their struggle to find gaps in the circle and turn over the strike to keep pressure from building up. More evidence came in the first Twenty20 match where USA had 61 dot balls, a shocking number for a Twenty20 match especially since USA only batted 19 overs.
USA’s biggest challenge was against Canada’s spin bowlers, particularly leg-spinner Junaid Siddiqui and the left-arm spin of Rehman. Canada’s bowling attack was good but not nearly as good as some of the ones they’ve used in World Cups over the last decade.
Bowling: Against most of Canada’s first choice batsmen, USA’s bowlers turned in an admirable showing, especially in the two-day match. To bowl out a Division One Associate team for under 200 runs in a multi-day match was impressive and they nearly did it twice but ran out of time. Naseer Jamali’s opening spell which claimed three wickets set the tone for USA’s bowlers throughout that match.
The USA bowling was a bit flat in the 50-over match although if they had another 30 to 40 runs to play with they might have had more of a spring in their step. With the exception of Cheema’s first over assault of Adrian Gordon in the first Twenty20, USA’s bowlers were collectively committed in not letting Canada’s batsmen score too freely in those games as well.
USA’s greatest success came through their spin bowlers. Danial Ahmed and Timil Patel led the way while Karan Ganesh provided good support with the ball in the limited overs matches. Barrington Bartley showed a brief glimpse of what he can do in a supporting role with the ball as did Japen Patel with his medium pace, but neither should be seen as a frontline option.
William Perkins – Scored 15 off 25 balls in the two-day match, 46 off 73 in the 50-over game, and made 32 off 21 in the second T20. He looked solid at the crease, but not dominant. For someone with plenty of recent experience playing domestic cricket in the West Indies, as well as participating in the Champions League T20 with Trinidad & Tobago, more was expected. He certainly didn’t do enough to displace Sushil Nadkarni and Steven Taylor as USA’s incumbent openers, but might be worth consideration in a 14-man squad, if eligible, for some of USA’s upcoming tournaments.
Steven Taylor – Scored 4 off 15 balls in the two-day match, retired hurt on 10 in the 50-over match after pulling a hamstring trying to complete a quick single. Taylor has always carried slightly more weight than he should. The hamstring pull may give him the nudge he needs to focus more of his attention on improving his fitness. He has gotten away with it at most stages because of his supreme natural talent, but the higher the level of competition, the greater risk he runs of his fitness being exposed.
Timothy Surujbally – Scored 24 off 55 balls in the two-day game, 28 off 54 in the 50-over match, made 27 off 10 before retiring hurt in the first T20 with a hamstring pull trying to complete a quick single; with the ball took 0 for 6 in three overs during the two-day game. His performance was a microcosm of so many batsmen during the week who teased, but probably fell short of satisfying the expectations of themselves as well as the selectors with their batting. If there’s one thing that would hold him back more than anything else from making it into a 14-man squad next year, it would be his inability to score off the ball turning away from him. Canada’s Siddiqui and Rehman put the clamps on him and Surujbally didn’t seem to have a plan for how to get off strike.
Image (right) - Timothy Surujbally
Andy Mohammed – Scored 0 off 7 balls in the two-day match, made 11 off 12 opening the batting in the first T20; with the ball took 0 for 6 in one over in the two-day game. Two loose dismissals demonstrated that he still has a lot of maturing to do. Despite his talent, he doesn’t ever look determined to stay at the crease for very long. He needs to go back to the drawing board to develop his game.
Karan Ganesh – Top scored for USA in the two-day match with 29 off 70 balls, made 1 off 4 in the 50-over match and 2 not out off 3 balls in the second T20; with the ball took 0 for 14 in eight overs during the two-day match, 2 for 24 in eight overs in the 50-over match, 1 for 20 in four overs in the second T20. Ganesh should have stayed at the crease longer in the two-day game but only has himself to blame for runout that curtailed his innings. With the ball, his flat off-spin was efficient at restricting runs, particularly in the limited overs matches. He wouldn’t get into a full-strength USA squad solely on his batting or bowling alone, but makes an intriguing case as a reserve player for his combined skillset.
Timil Patel – Scored 11 off 15 balls in the two-day match, 22 off 39 in the 50-over game, 0 off 2 in the first T20 and 67 not out off 55 balls in the second T20; with the ball took match figures of 7 for 107 in 34 overs during the two-day game, 2 for 49 in 8.5 overs in the 50-over game, 1 for 24 in three overs in the first T20, 1 for 28 in four overs in the second T20. Had the best all-round performance of any USA player during the week. It’s unclear if he’ll be eligible to play in ICC tournaments next year though because he’s only been in the USA since 2010.
Japen Patel – Scored 0 off 9 balls in the two-day game, 9 off 17 in the first T20; with the ball took 0 for 34 in seven overs during the two-day game, took 4 for 26 in four overs during the first T20. Inserted into a new ball role in the two-day game that he was ill-suited for, he bowled tidily enough and had a chance dropped off his bowling early, but overall lacked penetration. In the T20 he played, he kept a disciplined line and as a result took more wickets than some of his teammates who bowled quicker but with far less control. Such performances with the ball need to be the rule, not the exception, for him to have any chance of cracking USA’s XI. He still has a long way to go with the bat as well to be up to international standard.
Image (left) - Japen Patel
Adil Bhatti – Scored 7 off 35 balls in the two-day game, 7 off 13 in the first T20, 0 off 1 ball in the second T20; with the ball he took 1 for 20 in five overs during the two-day game, 0 for 24 in three overs in the first T20. Bhatti is a player with similar skill sets to Japen Patel and is probably a better player but was outperformed by Japen during the series by way of Patel’s 4 for 26 in the first T20. Bhatti’s best moment came when he pulled off a fantastic catch as a substitute fielder in the 50-over match, but that’s not going to get him selected. He’s a player who gives tremendous effort but needs to work hard on his batting in particular, much like Japen, to merit full-time selection.
Ryan Corns – Scored 20 off 39 balls in the two-day game, 5 off 7 in the first T20, 5 off 5 in the second T20; with the ball took 1 for 46 in 14 overs during the two-day game, 1 for 22 in four overs during the first T20, 1 for 21 in three overs during the second T20. His spin bowling is always improving, but his batting still hasn’t progressed to the point where it should be. He got a few opportunities to bat higher up the order in this series than he had in previous tournaments USA played in 2012, but didn’t make the most of those chances. The fact that he was selected as a stand-in captain in place of the injured Taylor for the second T20 says a lot about how highly he is now thought of by USA’s management hierarchy, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a nervous wait this winter to see if his spot is secure the next time USA picks a 14-man squad.
Danial Ahmed – Scored 1 not out off 6 balls in the two-day match; with the ball took 6 for 73 across 37.4 overs in the two-day game, took 1 for 13 in three overs in the second T20. Ahmed was the biggest revelation for USA in the matches against Canada. Although he isn’t a very big turner of the ball, he displayed immaculate control and used clever variations of pace and flight to keep batsmen off balance. USA has tried out numerous specialist left-arm spinners over the past few years – Asif Khan, Samarth Shah, Bhim George – to match up with Nepal’s arsenal of them. Ahmed may be the end of that search. He also was brilliant in the field, another area where USA could definitely benefit from his presence.
Naseer Jamali – Scored 2 off 5 balls in the two-day game; with the ball took 3 for 42 in 12 overs during the two-day game, took 0 for 9 in one over in the second T20. His opening spell in the two-day game was very impressive as he wiped out Canada’s top three with relative ease. He doesn’t have blinding pace, but is showing signs of maturing by bowling a more disciplined line and recognizing that he won’t be able to bounce people out. Not a first-choice option now, but wouldn’t be a bad option should Usman Shuja, Elmore Hutchinson or Timroy Allen get injured.
Nicholas Standford – Scored 0 off 8 balls in the 50-over match, 23 off 26 in the first T20, 18 off 22 in the second T20. He played similar to Surujbally in the way he got some good starts, but ultimately failed to convert them. Looked fluent at the crease in both T20s but at the end of the day a number three batsman needs to do more after getting set like he did regardless of the format.
Neil McGarrell – Scored 26 off 46 balls in the 50-over match, scored 3 off 5 balls in the first T20; with the ball he took 0 for 28 in 10 overs in the 50-over match, took 1 for 14 in three overs in the first T20. Even though he’s 40, McGarrell maintains a very professional approach to the game at all levels. He demonstrated he still has value with the ball and as a fielder, but if there was room for just one specialist left-arm spinner in a USA squad and the choice was between the former West Indies Test bowler and 27-year-old Daniel Ahmed, then Ahmed should get selected. It’s not because Ahmed is younger, it’s because Ahmed showed he’s better.
Barrington Bartley – Scored 23 off 24 balls in the 50-over match, scored 26 off 14 balls in the second T20; with the ball took 0 for 44 in eight overs in the 50-over match, took 3 for 14 in three overs in the second T20. While Bartley had the same issue of carrying on after getting set like many of his teammates, he was actually one of the few efficient batsmen in the squad. It was rare to see him waste a delivery and he was much more skilled at turning over the strike than Ganesh, Surujbally or Standford in particular. He’s also a better fielder than the other three. With the ball, his 0 for 44 in the 50-over game is a more accurate reflection of his bowling abilities than his 3 for 14 in the second T20. If he were to get picked, it would be for his batting.
Saami Siddiqui – Scored 6 off 20 balls in the 50-over game, scored 7 off 8 balls in the first T20; completed no dismissals as a wicketkeeper, conceded 1 bye. Siddiqui kept adequately enough behind the stumps, but as is the case in the modern era of cricket he needs to offer more with the bat as a keeper.
Hammad Shahid – Scored 1 off 10 balls in the 50-over match; with the ball took 1 for 32 in eight overs during the 50-over match, took 0 for 10 in one over in the second T20. The 50-over game was a decent start to his career at the senior level but he didn’t get much of a chance to build on it in the T20 game he played. He hasn’t progressed as quickly as it looked like he would when he was a 16-year-old, but he has a strong frame and will hopefully get better with experience.
Mital Patel – Scored 2 off 9 balls in the 50-over match, made 0 off 4 balls in the first T20; with the ball took 0 for 19 in four overs in the 50-over match, took 0 for 11 in two overs during the first T20. Patel needs to be more disciplined and focused on the basics of finding a consistent line and length. His figures in the 50-over match included a maiden and on paper they look good, but part of the reason he didn’t get to bowl a second spell was because he was somewhat erratic, offering too much width too often. If he can bowl on the stumps on a regular basis, he’ll become a better prospect.
Adrian Gordon – Scored 14 not out off 10 balls in first T20; with the ball took 0 for 26 in one over in first T20, took 1 for 1 in 0.4 overs in second T20. Gordon has practically fallen off the cliff from where he was in his development after ICC WCL Division Four in August of 2010. He’s nowhere close to the bowler he was then. Despite generating good pace, his radar is all over the place. He’s still only 25 so he has time to sort himself out, but it would be good for it to happen sooner rather than later.
Image (right) - Adrian Gordon at ICC WCL Division Four in Italy in 2010. [Courtesy: ICC]
Outlook for 2013 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 and ICC WCL Division Three
Much depends on the eligibility of certain players. Ahmed arrived in the USA in the spring of 2009 so his eligibility for these tournaments depends on how the ICC calculates the residency requirement for qualification, which stipulates that a player must reside in a country for a minimum of 183 days in the four years immediately preceding a tournament in order to play for that country. Only two such players can be picked in any starting XI, which may leave a captain limited if there are multiple such players in a 14-man squad. There is no limit on players who have been residents for a minimum of 183 days for seven years immediately preceding a tournament, or if they are a passport holder/citizen.
Timil Patel arrived in the USA in the summer of 2010, so may not be eligible to play for USA in ICC tournaments until 2014. Perkins last played for the West Indies in 2008, so his eligibility to play for the USA would depend on whether or not he fulfills the residency/citizenship requirements. All three players are definitely capable of slotting into a 14-man squad, but at the moment Timil Patel might be on the outside looking in due to ICC rules.
Probable USA first choice XI for ICC Americas Division One T20 in March:
1. Steven Taylor
2. Sushil Nadkarni
3. Steve Massiah
4. Aditya Thyagarajan
5. Aditya Mishra
6. Orlando Baker
7. Timroy Allen
8. Elmore Hutchinson
9. Usman Shuja
10. Danial Ahmed
11. Muhammad Ghous
As for the three reserves, much of it may depend on squad balance. Would USA opt for a pair of spinners and a batsman? A seamer and two batsmen but no pure spinner? To include or not to include a backup wicketkeeper? Several combinations could be construed. Ryan Corns and Abhimanyu Rajp stand a good chance of keeping their spots in USA’s squad for the time being, but both may be under pressure to hold on to them. If Perkins is eligible he would almost certainly take up the last spot, particularly because he can also keep wicket. Several other players are in contention to be included in a 14-man squad as well including Bartley, Bhatti, Ganesh, Surujbally, Rashard Marshall and Akeem Dodson.
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