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The Best Ever U.S. Americas Cup Display

By Orin Davidson

Dec. 10th, 2008
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It’s been a long time since fans were made to feel good about United States cricket.

The exploits of the senior squad though, in the just concluded Americas Cup in Florida proved that our cricket standard is not as bad as recent results suggested.


Sushil Nadkarnie with the MVP award.

The team not only won the Cup, they dominated the series in the manner true believers expect it should, given the talent available and the work put in by coaches, trainers and some officials from California in the West to New York in the East.

In winning all five games it contested, the United States amended for a disastrous display in its last international series where it failed in the lowest level of competition organized by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC). That was just a few months ago in the 2011 World Cup qualifying series held just off England in the tiny island named Jersey.

In almost the blink of an eye, the U.S. was a transformed team.

In flattening Bermuda and Canada, two teams ranked in the highest categories among ICC Associate Members, en-route to claiming the Americas title for the first time, the United States proved it deserves to play with and among the best countries without Test status.

It was a thoroughly efficient team performance which showed that America can play to its full potential when not underprepared and fielding the right players.

In Jersey, as was the case two years prior in the 2007 World Cup qualifiers in Ireland, the U.S. rushed off to play in unfamiliar conditions, long after the completion of the official seasons in temperate cities like New York.

This time around, they were just off the summer season and when most of the team had just made a surprise appearance in the West Indies limited overs championship.

Based on the ICC rankings, Bermuda and Canada are much better than the likes of Afghanistan and Jersey which topped the Group 5 competition at the expense of America which could only finish fourth.

But as was stated in these columns at the time, the U.S. could beat any of the Group 5 teams at home even if not 100 percent prepared. And they proved they are even better than that prediction by hammering Bermuda which qualified for the 2007 World Cup from Group 1, not to mention Canada which also plays in that Group.

America’s performance is now asking the ICC a serious question about the real quality of this U.S. team which will not be among the countries to comprise the lineup for the next World Cup in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.


Imran Awan with the best bowler award.

In an ideal world, the team could’ve demanded a second chance to compete for a World Cup place. But that is not going to happen. There is no second chance for any team to qualify for the World Cup which leaves America with the small consolation of the Americas Cup championship title to hold onto for the next two years.

The United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) has now learnt a serious lesson about the requirements of the international game. No team can be successful by just taking off and showing up at competitions and not making the effort to make available the best players possible. For the Americas Cup, the U.S. team comprised most of the top eligible players around, with the possible exception of one controversial selection, that has affected the team more than once in the recent past.

Nevertheless the selections were an improvement this time around as the embarrassment of the Jersey experience obviously stung the powers that be to do better.

And the team responded with solid consistent performances by almost everyone that took the field at the new Broward County Stadium and Brian Piccolo Park.

Opening batsman Sushil Nadkarnie once again showed his class by opening his huge appetite for runs to top the tournament with more than 400. For once Steve Massiah did not emerge as America’s leading scorer but he scored enough to maintain his high status. Unlike in past years, the team was not wholly dependant on Massiah for runs as Carl Wright, the former Jamaica national player, showed why he was good enough to make that country’s national team before current Test stars Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and the now fading Wavell Hinds. Wright gave the batting much needed solidity at the top and formed a formidable opening partnership with Nadkarnie.

Lower in the order Aditya Thyagarajan established himself as a top batsman regardless of the opposition.

If it was not known before now, there is no doubt that Orlando Baker is a very valuable player in the team. His bowling was among the best on show for America simply because he can master the technique of swinging the ball at will with unerring control. His five-wicket haul almost singlehandedly torpedoed Canada in the most anticipated game of the series. It followed up on a similarly excellent showing against Barbados in the WICB Cup where he nailed four top order batsmen, which proves that Baker is for real. When you throw in his useful batting ability into the equation, the point is made clear.

Fast bowler Imran Awan always had pace, and is now using it to greater effect by posting two very productive performances in Guyana and Florida. He topped the team’s wickets tally without which the team’s success would not have been as emphatic in Florida. Along with the effectiveness of Lennox Cush whose off spin seems to be effective in any type of limited overs competition, and the quality stuff from Thyagarajan, who has made a claim as a successful spinner, and the promise of paceman Timroy Allen, Bermuda, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Argentina and Suriname had no chance.

This team has now set the standard for the future.

It is up to the administrators to maintain it.

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Comments

First of all congratulations to Team USA on winning the ICC America’s Cup which was recently held in Florida. It is one of the most balanced team for the longest while. Kudos to the hard hitting Kulkarnie and Awan and receiving the top awards. And i hope USACA will maintain a balance team as this one in the future. Great story, keep it up Orin.
Posted by Intiaz Khan on December 11, 2008.

The USA also won the America's Cup in 2002.
Posted by Orville Hall on December 10, 2008.

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