Under-19s August 13, 2007

The USA's reluctant absentees

The real impact of the USA's suspension from international cricket will hit home today when north of the border in Toronto the region's leading teams will meet to take part in the Americas Under-19 Qualifier.

The real impact of the USA's suspension from international cricket will hit home today when north of the border in Toronto the region's leading teams will meet to take part in the Americas Under-19 Qualifier.

The prize at stake is a place at the ICC U-19 World Cup in Malaysia next February and March. While hosts Canada will be joined by sides from Argentina, Bahamas, Bermuda and Cayman Islands, the USA's young players will be left at home dreaming of what might have been.

The USA were present at the last U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka - on that occasion the ICC hierarchy commendably decided that it would be unfair to punish young players because of the governance issues affecting the national board . But this time there has been no such concession and so the U-19 side will miss out.

The sadness of this becomes more apparent when you listen to people involved in grassroots US cricket.

Last month, Hemant Buch, co-founder of the California Cricket Academy, told Cricinfo: "There will simply be more and more junior cricket in all parts of North America, and we should have several thousand first-class juniors ready to play competitive cricket by 2011."

When the various factions indulge in their next bout of self-obsessed squabbling for control of the USA Cricket Association, they would all so well to remember that the real victims of their conduct of recent years should be in Toronto preparing for the biggest week of their lives.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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