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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
Batting: In a virtual carbon copy of USA’s batting performances during the 2012 Auty Cup tour in Florida, there were plenty of starts for USA but hardly any conversions into significant scores. USA did not record a single half-century during the tour. The highest scores were made by Ravi Timbawala and Akeem Dodson, who made 44 in the two-day match and the second Twenty20 respectively.
Conversely, Canada produced seven scores of more than fifty with four of them by one player, Ruvindu Gunasekera. He scored a half-century and a century in the two-day match, then made a pair of 50s in the Twenty20s. Damodar Daesrath scored a century in the 50-over match while Trevin Bastiampillai and Ashish Bagai scored 50s in the two-day match and 50-over game respectively.
USACA’s monthly newsletter touted that several players “made strong claims” for places in the squad going to the UAE in November for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. However, any incumbent senior player should feel extremely aggrieved if all it takes to get knocked out from the first choice starting eleven is making 19, 24 or 35 as your top score against Canada.
Bowling: USA’s bowlers performed admirably during the tour but were clearly deflated by the time the second Twenty20 was played after continuously getting zero support from their batsmen as well as some of their fielders. Not surprisingly, it was up to the spinners to do most of the work. They set the tone by taking all 10 wickets during Canada’s first innings in the two-day Auty Cup match and restricted Canada to 228. Against what was essentially the same batting lineup that USA faced up to, UAE allowed Canada to score 369 for 6 declared in an Intercontinental Cup match from August 1-4.
Out of the 32 wickets claimed by USA on tour, three of them were by pace bowlers and 27 were by spinners while the other two were courtesy of runouts. The wickets at King City might assist spin bowlers more than seamers, but such a lopsided contribution is a poor sign. By comparison, of the 28 wickets taken by Canadian bowlers, the split was 12-11 in favor of their pacemen while the other five were runouts.
Fielding: USA dropped 16 chances in the field over the course of the four days. On average, USA missed a chance every 13 overs in the field across the two-day, 50-over and two Twenty20s. The 16 missed chances allowed Canada’s batsmen an extra 347 runs. Two players were dropped twice in an innings and two players finished not out. So the average number of runs scored by a Canada batsman after the initial missed chance was 28.92.
Image (right) - Usman Rehman takes a safe catch on the boundary for USA in the first Twenty20 match, but not every chance was taken so easily in the field for USA. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Conversely, Canada only committed four missed chances, one for every 27.3 overs they were in the field, for a total of 61 extra runs. Simple math will show that USA dropped chances twice as often as Canada did and each missed chance was almost twice as costly as the ones Canada committed. USA’s fielding standards, both on the ground and in the air, were quite simply unacceptable.
Steven Taylor: Turned in scores of 9, 22 and 3 in his three innings. He got out to good bowling in the two-day game, but threw his wicket away in the first Twenty20 with a needless reverse sweep. In the second Twenty20, he was given not out first ball after clearly gloving a pull down the leg side to the wicketkeeper but that reprieve was evened out a short time later when he was given out runout despite replays indicating he had made his ground.
After producing one of the most impressive innings in the history of the USA senior team with 162 on the opening day of ICC WCL Division Three against Nepal in April, the teenager has struggled to achieve such lofty heights again with his only significant achievement coming in an inconsequential match against Bermuda after USA had been KO’d from reaching the Division Three final. Any ambitions he has about playing for the West Indies are a long way off at the moment.
Akeem Dodson: Made 13 in the two-day game followed by 2 and 44 in the Twenty20 matches. What caught everyone’s attention at the ground though was his sloppy work behind the stumps. Dodson spilled no less than four chances in the first two matches as wicketkeeper. It meant that Taylor had to take over the gloves for the pair of Twenty20 matches. In an ideal world, Taylor should be concentrating on his batting.
Dodson is an athletic player and is outstanding at preventing the tip and run singles just in front of the stumps on either side of the wicket, but if he can’t do the basic job of catching the ball when it comes to him it may result in other wicketkeepers getting a chance. California-based Ritesh Kadu has been very productive with the bat in various domestic Twenty20 tournaments this year and is a far better gloveman than Dodson. Kadu debuted for USA in 2011 at ICC WCL Division Three in Hong Kong but like most players had a miserable tour. Unfortunately, he did not have credit in the bank built up like a lot the senior squad members and as a result was immediately cast aside. He could force his way back into contention though if USACA elects to hold any sort of selection camp in the fall prior to sending a final 14-man squad off to the UAE.
Nicholas Standford: Arrived in Canada for the limited overs games and ended up just facing six balls across both Twenty20s batting at number three. He made 5 and 2, was runout and caught behind respectively with the keeper standing up to the stumps to medium pacer Harvir Baidwan. Standford always seems to present himself well on the field, but failed to reach 40 in any of the starts he made in March during the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament and did himself no favors with the bat in Canada despite a coveted spot in the batting order. His fielding offers some value, but it’s highly probable that he will miss out on USA’s November tour.
Ravi Timbawala: Top scored for USA in the two-day game with 44, then followed it up with 8 and 16 in the Twenty20s. Out of any of USA’s batsmen, he presented the strongest case to make his way into the first choice 14 to the UAE in November. However, 44 is by no means a slam-dunk argument. He showed flashes in every game that he can A: play spin B: rotate the strike and C: doesn’t feel pressured to slog his way out of trouble. USA’s batsmen had a hard time doing all of the above at Division Three in Bermuda, not to mention plenty of other tournaments in the recent past.
Timbawala has the makings of a good middle order presence. Just as important, he is a very sharp fielder both on the ground and in the air but being a reserve in the first choice squad for the UAE tour may be all he can hope for, if he makes the 14-man squad at all. A century against Canada in the two-day game would have all but sealed a spot and he looked destined to reach three figures when lunch was taken on day two, but he failed to register 50, let alone 100, and that may come back to haunt him.
Image (left) - Ravi Timbawala drives down the ground for a single vs. Canada. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Karan Ganesh: Made scores of 35, 10 and 2 against Canada. Ganesh is another player who had excellent opportunities but failed to make the most of them. He may have been somewhat unlucky in the way he got out in the two-day game with a brilliant return catch from Salman Nazar, but it was also the result of a loose approach in trying to smash the cover off the ball without any regard toward keeping the ball on the ground.
Ganesh sustained a knee injury in March in Florida at the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 and from the looks of things in Canada, the aftereffects are lingering. He’s not overweight, but is generally a slow mover in the field. He made a decent contribution with the ball in the 50-over game taking 3 for 44 in 10 overs, but USA has a glut of part-time offies and until he can prove to be a more significant contributor with the bat he will most likely be stuck toward the back of the queue.
Timothy Surujbally: Made scores of 24, 6 and 13 on tour. Surujbally is another in a growing list of players who is consistently inconsistent. This is his third tour with USA, but like Ganesh and Standford, has yet to make a 50. Teams full of players who settle for 20s and 30s won’t be challenging for victories too often. Surujbally is also slow to react to the ball both on the ground and in the air. Overall his fielding is what hurts him more than anything and a contributing factor to that is his below average fitness. He has a lot he needs to work on before he can seriously challenge for a permanent spot in the USA lineup.
Timil Patel: USA’s captain on tour scored 4, 19 and 7 with the bat. Bowling wise he had figures of 26-5-66-4 in the two-day game, 6.2-0-35-0 in the 50-over match, 3.5-0-30-1 in the first T20 and 4-0-40-3 in the second T20. He was USA’s leading wicket-taker on tour, but as legspinners sometimes are his wickets came at a price and a particularly expensive one in the limited overs games.
Patel is listed as an allrounder but did not make any reasonable case for his inclusion on his batting alone, although he is a very solid fielder. As for his bowling, he was almost too eager to try to buy wickets in the Twenty20 matches and got hammered for it. There are doubts as to his eligibility for selection for the UAE tour later this year as it is believed he will not have met the ICC’s four-year residency requirement by that point. Even if he is eligible, his didn’t make a strong case for supplanting any of the other options USA has for turning the ball away from right handers.
Ryan Corns: Claimed figures of 3 for 21 in 19.1 overs in the first innings of the two-day game, then got rocked in the 50-over match and finished with 1 for 48 in 6.4 overs. He made 3 with the bat in the two-day game and sat out the pair of Twenty20s with a leg injury. Corns has spent most of the summer playing club cricket in the UK and showed the benefits of playing regularly on turf wickets with his miserly bowling performance on the opening day. Unfortunately, he failed in his sole chance with the bat and was out stumped after stretching fractionally out of his crease against Nazar’s spin.
Image (right) - Ryan Corns celebrates when he's on the field, but has had trouble keeping fit. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Corns bowled very well on Thursday, but the fact that he couldn’t remain fit through the end of the short tour is part of a worrying trend. Corns is young and shows all the signs of training hard, but is developing a reputation as someone who has trouble staying healthy on the field. USA doesn’t play too many games annually so when a player misses time due to injury on tour it sticks out. Corns missed three games at the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier with a groin injury. In March, he missed all three 50-over trial matches against Bermuda in Florida after he was hit in the back with a ball during a net session. He was USA’s leading wicket-taker at the 2013 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament, but missing 50% of the games in Canada didn’t help his case as he tries to fight his way back into the team for the UAE tour.
Danial Ahmed: Finished with figures of 25-3-83-1 in the two-day game, 10-1-36-1 in the 50-over match, 4-0-26-1 and 4-0-29-0 in the pair of Twenty20s. Ahmed was flying high heading into ICC WCL Division Three in Bermuda, but being forced to ride the bench through the group stage of that tournament after being a leading spinner in each of the previous two tours he’d been on with USA appears to have dented his confidence.
He bowled well in spurts, but not consistently. He was also let down by his fielders with four chances grassed off his bowling, although one was a return chance with only himself to blame. If Neil McGarrell makes himself available to tour the UAE in November, Ahmed might find himself engaged in a battle with Corns for a reserve left-arm spinner’s role. If Barrington Bartley is also given a chance to keep his spot in the team as an allrounder, Ahmed might be squeezed out of a spot on tour as his fielding is comfortably behind the other three.
Abhimanyu Rajp: Arguably USA’s standout player on tour, Rajp had figures of 14-4-49-2 in the first innings of the two-day game followed by 11-0-54-0 in the second. He claimed 7-0-40-3 in the 50-over match, then had 4-0-23-1 and 4-0-21-1 in the Twenty20s. He also had at least three catches dropped off his bowling, all of them straightforward. On the batting side, he showed up the specialist batsmen in the two-day game by scoring 29 not out off 58 balls at number nine. It was USA’s third highest score in the innings and the third highest number of deliveries faced before he was last man out.
Image (left) - Abhimanyu Rajp bowls during the two-day Auty Cup match. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Rajp demonstrated a healthy balance of aggression and economy with the ball in each format. He was USA’s co-leader in wickets with Muhammad Ghous at the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE and rose to the occasion against big opponents like Ireland, when he snagged Ed Joyce and Kevin O’Brien to finish with 2 for 24. He also took 2 for 31 against Namibia, who went undefeated in the group stage, and 1 for 27 against Italy. Those three teams, as well as Canada, will all be in Group A with USA at the 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. Rajp’s experience against those opponents along with recent form shows that it would be a major mistake to not have him in USA’s squad to tour the UAE.
Naseer Jamali: Only bowled five overs in the first innings of the two-day game, taking 0 for 11. He missed portions of the two-day game for a substitute fielder after sustaining a leg injury, then sat out all three of the limited overs games. Jamali remains a decent left-arm seam prospect, but he offers nothing with the bat and has lead feet in the field, regardless of whether or not he is 100% fit. In the past he has sometimes struggled to come back for spells later in games. He needs to work hard to improve his agility, mobility and overall fitness.
Usman Rehman: Had figures of 10-1-39-1 across two innings in the two-day match and played in just one of the two T20s without bowling at all. It’s unknown if he was injured. Rehman bowled at decent pace, but nothing that would distinguish him from any other seam bowler lurking around the fringes of the USA team. Often times when things were quiet in the field, he was one of the few people making noise, a sure sign of his enthusiasm at getting a chance on his debut tour. He was an asset as a fielder. Hopefully he’ll get more chances in the future to accurately demonstrate what he can do with the ball.
Mital Patel: He sat out the two-day game after carrying a minor injury into the tour. He then played in all three limited overs games. He was USA’s most impressive bowler in the 50-over game, taking 2 for 27 in eight overs but was all over the place on Sunday in the Twenty20s, bowling three overs that went for 39 runs which included five wide deliveries and one that was sprayed down the leg side to the boundary. He’s only 21, so has plenty of time to develop but has a long way to go before he’ll approach first choice squad status.
Adrian Gordon: The medium pacer looks more and more like cricket’s version of Rick Vaughn every time he suits up. He opened the 50-over match with an 11-ball over that went for 19 runs and didn’t get to bowl again on Saturday. On Sunday, he bowled two overs in the second Twenty20 that went for 21 runs. It’s hard to see him getting too many more opportunities in the future.