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By Peter Della Penna in Lauderhill, Florida (on Twitter)
DreamCricket.com's coverage on site from Florida for the three-match 50-over series between USA and Bermuda is sponsored by New Inning Foundation.
This article was updated on March 25 at 11:15 p.m. EST
After a dominant performance during the 2013 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament, USA’s attention now shifts toward preparing for 2013 ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Bermuda which runs from April 28-May 5. While three players - Orlando Baker, Saqib Saleem and Nicholas Standford - are departing to go home at the conclusion of the Twenty20 matches, 10 players are arriving in Florida on Monday to get some match practice against Bermuda in the form of three 50-over matches. It means that USA will have a 21-man squad for the set of three matches.
Six players who were part of the runner-up side from 2012 ICC WCL Division Four in Malaysia – USA regulars Steve Massiah, Sushil Nadkarni, Usman Shuja Aditya Thyagarajan, Timroy Allen and Muhammad Ghous – will be taking part in their first action for USA since September after missing both The 2012 Auty Cup against Canada and the Twenty20 tournament last week.
Image (right) - Fast bowler Usman Shuja is one of several USA players who will arrive in Florida this week to play with the national team for the first time since September. [Courtesy: ICC/Barry Chambers]
Rashard Marshall is also back with USA for these three matches as he presents his case to the selectors for the tour to Bermuda. The last time Marshall represented USA was at 2011 ICC WCL Division Three in Hong Kong. Like most of the team, he struggled in Hong Kong and made just 100 runs at an average of 20 but in the past he has been a destructive force in the middle order, none more so than when he scored 122 off 84 balls against Argentina at 2010 ICC WCL Division Four in Italy.
Two other players who have previously represented USA will be competing for spots, Neil McGarrell and Hemant Punoo. McGarrell, who played 4 Tests for the West Indies in 2001, made his USA senior team debut at the age of 40 in November during Canada's tour to Florida for The Auty Cup. The left-arm spinner played in one 50-over match and one T20 during the series.
Punoo, 27, was USA's captain at the 2006 ICC U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. He scored two half-centuries in that tournament - 65 vs. West Indies and 64 vs. Namibia - and was the team's leading scorer at the event but he has never been picked for the men's national team. Most recently, Punoo represented the Massachusetts State Cricket League at the first American Cricket Federation Twenty20 Championship last October in Los Angeles. He scored 59 runs in three innings with a best of 23 vs. Washington Metropolitan Cricket Board.
Perhaps the most intriguing addition to the squad though is 19-year-old Josh Dascombe. Last month, USACA CEO Darren Beazley issued an open invitation for any US citizens living and playing cricket abroad to get into contact with USACA with regards to potentially playing for the national team. Dascombe met the criteria as a US citizen and is arriving in Fort Lauderdale from Australia on the eve of the matches against Bermuda after having played for Queensland U-19 in the Australia Under-19 championships in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Dascombe is listed as a left-arm orthodox spinner and lives in Brisbane, playing his club cricket for Sandgate-Redcliffe in the 12-team Queensland Grade Cricket competition. In seven first-grade matches this season for Sandgate-Redcliffe, Dascombe took 8 for 187 in 34.3 overs. Dascombe tied for 10th overall in the wickets column in the second-grade competition though, taking 36 scalps in 197.2 overs at an average of 22.58 including a best of 6 for 81. He just notched a career-high score of 94 in the Alan Pettigrew Shield second-grade grand final played on four days across two weekends, March 16-17 and 23-24, as Sandgate-Redcliffe defeated Redlands by 66 runs.
In 2011-12, Dascombe tied for 18th in the Queensland second-grade competition as an 18-year-old with 22 wickets in 149.5 overs at an average of 21.32 in 14 games. In seven first-grade matches that season, he took 4 for 177 in 28.2 overs.
USA’s players will be looking to make the most of the three games against Bermuda as it may be their only preparation ahead of WCL Division Three. On March 7, the Bermuda Cricket Board confirmed that Oman would be arriving on April 18 in Bermuda, 10 days ahead of the first match of the tournament, while Italy is scheduled to arrive on April 19 as both countries are desperate to finish in the top two in order to advance to the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand. Extra ICC funding is at stake in addition to a potential spot in the next edition of the ICC Intercontinental Cup and a place in the ICC’s High Performance Program. It’s unknown whether USACA plans on flying its final 14-man squad into Bermuda ahead of the tournament for any practice matches to get accustomed to local conditions.
DreamCricket.com will have live coverage sponsored by New Inning Foundation for the three-match 50-over series between USA and Bermuda beginning with the first game on Tuesday morning at Brian Piccolo Park. The match is scheduled for a 10 a.m. EST start with live coverage beginning at 9:30 a.m.