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After an extended period of hibernation, USA Cricket Association attempted to jump-start youth activities by urging regions and non-regions to conduct U-19 tournaments as the first step of a 'pathway for selection to USA U19 National Team.'
The process, while ad hoc and belated, is still a welcome development in a country that has been devoid of a clear and consistent national roadmap for youth.
USACA CEO, Darren Beazley, wrote to the USACA leagues: "I write to bring you all up to date on a very important international event for which USACA must prepare. The ICC Americas 2013 U19 World Cup Qualifier which will be held in Toronto, Canada from July 7 to 14, 2013. The participating teams USA, Canada and Bermuda will play each other on a double round basis with the top team advancing directly to the 2014 U19 World Cup."
"In 2010 USA participated in the U19 World Cup in New Zealand and more recently in 2012 [sic] USA participated in the Qualifiers in Ireland. Many of the players who were on those two teams have now made their way onto the senior team. We now have a great opportunity to once again participate in a U19 World Cup which not only raises our international profile but also expands the available pool of talented players for the senior team."
"To ensure that the best possible team is selected a pathway for selection to USA U19 National Team has been developed. The process beings with regional U19 tournaments, progresses to the Conference Championships and ends with final team selection." In a letter to the USACA board obtained by this website, Beazley wrote that the national selectors would "select a Western and Eastern Conference team (12 per side) who will play each other in May."
A more detailed timeline appeared on the Bollingbrook Premier League website, which set May 25, 26 and 27 for the conference championship. That website also noted that the erstwhile North East Region, New York Region, Atlantic Region and SER would comprise the Eastern Conference and the West Conference will consist of players from the erstwhile CER, CWR as well as the erstwhile NW and SW regions.
A squad of 14 players and 4 reserves is expected to be named on June 1st. The team is expected to depart for Toronto on July 7th.
In an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers among leagues that have been disqualified from USACA, Beazley adopted an inclusive tone. "League presidents in regions without established regional administrations will soon be contacted by their respective youth coordinator on record and are encouraged to partner with them to organize and manage your individual regional tournament," Beazley wrote and offered the flexibility of conducting camps instead of tournaments in regions with a scarcity of players.
"Please reach out to your regional officials or youth coordinators to make sure no eligible player is left behind and support your youth coordinators to put up professional event."
Several regions sprang to life almost immediately. South East Region scheduled its U-19 tournament for April 20th and 21st in Atlanta according to the region's youth coordinator, Muhammad Yousaf. The nonextant North West Region announced its plans to conduct a trial on April 6 and 7. Similarly, the former Central East Region plans to conduct a tournament on April 20th and 21st. Atlantic Region held open sessions on March 9th.
For his part, Hemant Buch, the co-chair of the USACA Youth Committee, also reinforced the inclusive approach. He wrote: "USACA youth committee and USACA operations team is working hard to support local administrators so execution is flawless. We will be putting code of conduct document and certain basic rules to follow for all soon."
"[E]very youth player who feels confident of trying out for U19 US team, will have an opportunity to do so during the regional trial phase." At press time, it appears that not all regions heeded the CEO's and the co-chair's words and it was apparent that old prejudices continued to play a role in who was invited to the trials.
Separately, the national youth committee met on February 26th. In meeting minutes that have been widely circulated, it was noted that budget constraints were likely to impact the U-15 plans for 2013. The committee noted that USACA had committed more funding for U-15 and U-17 from 2014 onwards.
The youth committee also noted in its minutes that Rajesh Uppalapati of Triangle Cricket League of North Carolina had developed a white paper on promoting cricket among schools. This is an area that USYCA has had considerable success with but USACA appears to be focused on creating its own blueprint.