ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup
Finally! USA-19 Registered A Win
Jan. 27th, 2010
Emotion is a strong factor in of all of human accomplishment, and
plenty of it showed up at the USA vs. Afghanistan match - the final
game for both teams at the 2010 Under-19 World Cup. In September
when the two teams first played each other both teams' management
and players were eager to downplay any tension between the two,
despite the war in Afghanistan. The USA team's performance probably
lacked emotion as a result, and Afghanistan won that game. Wednesday
Team USA needed to win at least one game before going home from
this World Cup, and it so happened the team they were taking on
team now has something to celebrate, a win over Afghanistan.
Photo courtesy of USACA.
The story of
Afghanistan cricket, and their Under-19 team, is a remarkable one
of perseverance and accomplishment, considering the state of the
country for the past two decades. Getting visas is difficult, made
worse because three of its players stayed behind in Canada last
September, instead of returning home. But the Under-19 game against
India was the first cricket match televised live in Afghanistan
and Afghan President Hamid Karzai sent a message to his players
that he was staying up until 3am to watch the game. So in different
ways both teams were carrying the aspirations of its fans at home.
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat on a bright sunny but
humid day, temperatures in the 70's. Unlike the game in Canada where
there were a couple hundred vociferous Afghan supporters, today
the ground was quiet. Salman Ahmad and Hammad Shahid opened the
bowling for the USA and Shahid soon beat Javed Ahmadi with pace
to bowl him for five. The ensuing celebration by Shahid and his
teammates received a cautionary word from the umpires. M.S. Aminzai
and the Afghan captain Noor-ul-Haq then put on 24 before Shahid
struck again, getting Aminzai lbw for 10 after 10.5 overs. This
was another key blow struck by the 6' 5" high school student
Shahid put on a fiery bowling attack, taking 3 wickets for
18 runs that earned him the man-of-the-match award.
Photo courtesy of USACA.
then got Shir Shirzai for a duck and the screws tightened. Saqib
Saleem 6.2-0-20-3, and Yash Shah 9-0-16-2 finished the job and the
Afghans were all out for 86 in 32.2 overs. However, it was Hammad
Shahid who turned in a fiery performance of 7-1-18-3 and taking
two fine catches, earning him the Man-of-the-Match award.
Opening the batting for USA was Steven Taylor and Henry Wardley
- architects of the most successful opening partnership for the
team on this tour (112 vs. PNG). Taylor immediately took his Chris
Gayle-like approach to the backward of square. USA 32 off 5 overs,
Taylor 19. The tall strapping Taylor slogged five fours before going
for one too many pulls and getting bowled for 30 off 24 balls. He
and Wardley had again given the USA a good start. Gregory Sewdial
then came in with the USA score at 49 for 1, and victory within
reach. Wardley said, "I like batting with Steven, his approach
takes the pressure off of me."
Wardley cover drove beautifully for a boundary, then a pulled shot
through mid-wicket for 4 run by the batsmen. Sewdial then stroked
one to the fine-leg boundary for a four to give USA its first win
of this World Cup, and by 9 wickets. Sewdial was 14 not out, whilst
the dependable Wardley's contribution that ensured the victory,
came without any scares by making a solid 27 not out, in the USA's
87 for 1 in 14.2 overs victory. One can only wonder what would have
happened had he been allowed to make more appearances in this World
Cup, following his sterling batting performance against Papua New
There will be much said about this tour as the players return home,
and return to colleges and high schools. Whilst fans wanted better
results, the players did well considering the limitations the team's
preparation faced over the past year, versus that of the opposing
teams. There can be lessons learnt from this tour that could make
the USA contenders for the 2012 Under-19 World Cup.
Amidst all the dialogue that will ensue I'd like to put in my two
1. Cut the grass! The fields our cricketers play on usually have
long uncut grass, which forces them to hit the ball in the air to
score runs. This is much more risky than playing shots along the
ground. Let's get this basic condition right.
2. We must approach our cricketing preparations like the "rich"
nation that we are. In the off-season our cricketers should be in
the gym, working with trainers. Whatever we lack in cricket facilities
we can try to make up for in excellence of athleticism. It doesn't
take turf wickets to be the best fielders or fastest bowlers or
highly motivated athletes.
3. Population-wise we have what it takes to be a cricketing power.
New York alone has more people than the West Indies, and a High
School cricket league of 30 teams. There is no reason USA cannot
reach the finals of the 2012 Under-19 World Cup.
In closing, thanks to the 2010 USA Under-19 World Cup team for representing
us on the world stage.