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No Excuses For US Losers
Massiah Admits U.S. Was Underprepared For Jersey Series

By Orin Davidson
June 5th, 2008
To New York cricket fans, the name Jersey means nothing more than competition on the other end of the Turnpike.

Steve Massiah

In the last few days though, Jersey has taken on greater meaning to the fans here and around the country.

It is the name of the territory that knocked out the United States from the World Group Five series and squashed our hopes of playing in the world’s most prestigious cricket competition anytime soon.

The team is now back home still reeling from a stunning semifinal defeat by the little island just off England, where the International Cricket Council (ICC) kicked off its playoffs for qualification for the 2011 World Cup.

The United States, back into competition after a two year ban, were unbeaten in the 12- team competition until they encountered Jersey in the semifinals. They were expected to cruise into the final where a place for the next round of World Cup playoffs was guaranteed.

But they ran into a buzz- saw that crucified their World Cup hopes for a second straight occasion after elimination from the Group One playoffs in 2006, for last year’s finals.

Jersey went on to lose the final to Afghanistan but they are safely into the Group Four qualification while America is left to rue another World Cup failure and wonder when they are going to fulfill their potential.

Team captain Steve Massiah has no excuses, stating that they had one bad day that ruined their hopes for at least another five years.

“We batted badly, 220 runs was a very get-table target, but it just a bad performance,” he lamented, referring to the U.S.’s failure to overcome a relatively modest target.

But the captain pointed out that despite the lowly status of the teams in the competition, they were no pushovers and some were strong enough with a number of first class players.

For example take Jersey. Their key player Ryan Driver played county cricket for Lancashire and Worcestershire and a lot of the others played around the leagues in England, Massiah pointed out, adding that they were a brilliant fielding team, better than the U.S.

America had faced a number of hurdles before and during the series too.

Massiah referred to his team not having any preparation and they encountered unfamiliar playing conditions in Jersey where the ball seamed and moved much like typical English situations.

“We had one weekend together in Florida where it was only net sessions, and where four players were missing, he pointed out. “Those other teams were preparing for months and weeks and had warm up games in Pakistan and India”.

On the contrary the majority of the U.S. players were coming out of the winter and had not seen competition for almost a year.

“I think if I had three months of competition under my belt, there was no way I could see ourselves failing. We would beat those teams easily,” the captain declared.

Massiah and other star batsmen Lennox Cush, Sushil Nadkarnie and Rashard Marshall all failed against Jersey in the pivotal game. And while acknowledging that Cush was playing in the West Indies throughout the winter, Massiah said conditions were tough for batting. “It was a bowlers competition,” he stated, adding that they played eight batsmen against Jersey.

“I take my hat off to our bowlers, especially against Jersey, where we did very well to restrict them to 220 from a position of 115 without loss”.

He pointed out too that America did not have the rub of the green with the officiating, claiming that one run out and a LBW aided the Jersey batsmen, while Nadkarnie was unlucky to have a questionable LBW go against him.

However, even in a perfect scenario, Massiah feels the U.S. has a long way to go to qualify for big competitions like the World Cup.

“The other teams are getting stronger all the time and a lot of money is being pumped into the game among the countries we don’t know much about.”

On the other hand, the sport in America continues to suffer from lack of funding. It resulted in this team not having any preparation.

Massiah stated the squad was also affected by players not getting release from their jobs, even for the short camp in Florida.

In addition, the captain said the decision to reduce the number of Associate member nations from the World Cup would make it even tougher.

The performances of the four qualifiers for last year’s World Cup finals were strongly condemned by officials.

To add insult to injury, the U.S. were whipped by Nepal in the third place playoff afterwards to finish a miserable fourth place.

It may or may not have been as a result of the after-effects suffered from demoralizing defeat to Jersey whose trump card Matthew Hague wrecked the star studded U.S. battling lineup by bagging five wickets for 38 runs with his medium pace.

The U.S crumbled to an embarrassing 136 as a result, chasing their 221 run target. Marshall topscored with 39. Aditya Thyagarajan’s 25 was the next best while Massiah contributed 6, Cush 8, Nadkarnie 11 and Orlando Baker 12.

Jersey built on a 122-run opening partnership and ended on 220-5 in their allotted 50 overs after being sent in to bat. Peter Gough made 65, Steve Carlyon 45 and Driver 28
Paceman Imran Iwan took 2-37 in his best bowling performance of the series while Cush got 1-40 and Nirajan shah 1-37.

The batting was even worse one day later against Nepal, who the U.S. saw rain causing an abandonment of their preliminary group game.

The U.S were bundled out for 93 in 42 overs with Massiah and Baker failing to score and Cush being run out for 10 and Nadkarnie falling for 11. Nepal’s M. Aalam and B. Regmi led the rout with 2-8 and 2-17 respectively.

Earlier Nepal posted 148 with Khadja topscoring with 48. Kawaja Shuja, the medium pacer from New Jersey state, closed out the tournament as the U.S’s best bowler by bagging his second five wicket haul, ending with 5-34. He had taken 5-15 off Norway and ended the series with 17 wickets for an astounding average of 9.23 runs each.

Baker finished with 2-41 against Nepal while Cush and Awan one wicket each.

Earlier the U.S. had defeated Mozambique and Norway by nine wickets, Vanuatu by seven wickets, Germany by six wickets while the Nepal game was abandoned halfway through after the latter scored 182 off their 50 overs due to Cush bagging 3-38, Baker 2-17 and Shuja 2-30.

Batting second against Mozambique, the U.S. scored 150-1 with Nadkarnie hitting 68 and Baker and Massiah making 37 and 32 not out respectively. Mozambique had scored 148-7 in their 50 overs. Shuja captured 2-8.

The next game ended in a no result due to rain, despite being scheduled over two days. By that time the U.S. had reached 108-1 off 21 overs. Nadkarnie scored 47 and Massiah 31 not out.

Against Norway Shuja's 5-15 reduced the opposition to 85 all out off 31.1 overs. Iwan supported by bagging 2-36 and Steve Pitter 2-24. Nadkarnie and Baker replied with 41 and 32 respectively in the U.S.’s 87-1 off 15 overs.’

Shuja was back among the wickets when the U.S. opposed Vanuatu, capturing 2-14 as they subsided to 88-9 off 24 overs, in a game reduced to 24 overs due to rain. America replied with 89-3 in 19.2 overs with wicketkeeper Gowkaran Roopnarine making 44 and Massiah 23 not out.

Their other game against Germany saw Massiah scalping 2-11 with his medium pace with support from Shah supporting with 2-18 as the opposition slid to 104 all out in 32.5 overs. Baker hit 45 not out in America’s reply of 107-4
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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