The USA selection panel headed by Ricardo Powell has narrowed down its initial 30-man squad from July down to 22 for a final five-day national-team camp from September 17 to 21 in Indianapolis, which will be used to pick a 14-man squad for USA's Auty Cup series against Canada in mid-October followed by World Cricket League Division Four in Los Angeles from October 29 to November 5.
According to multiple sources, only 20 players were originally invited to Indianapolis, but an opportunity was given to players participating in tour matches against the MCC in New York last weekend to earn a last-chance opportunity in front of new USA coach Pubudu Dassanayake. Two players did enough to get a late call - offspinner Muhammad Ghous and batsman Abdullah Syed.
Ghous was named captain for last summer's squad that competed at the World T20 Qualifier in Ireland and is one of USA's most experienced players - he has taken 30 wickets in 39 T20s and 35 wickets in 32 50-over games for USA - but his spot has increasingly come under threat due to recent sub-par performances. He chose not to bowl his full quota of four overs in three of USA's six games at the World T20 Qualifier in Ireland, and finished with four wickets, tied for third on the team.
Ghous beat the CPL-contracted offspinner Nikhil Dutta for a spot in a combined ICC Americas team that played in the WICB Nagico Super50 in January, but played in just two games and was ineffective with combined figures of 0 for 53 in 7.5 overs. However, in the first of the two 50-over MCC tour matches played at Baisley Pond Park in New York on Saturday, Ghous took 3 for 20 in 10 overs with three maidens. It was enough to convince Dassanayake and national selector Barney Jones, who was also present in New York, that Ghous should still have a chance to compete in Indianapolis to retain his place in USA's squad for Division Four.
Syed, a hard hitting right-handed batsman, struck 34 off 23 balls, including three fours and three sixes, in the first match against MCC on Saturday and followed it up with 23 off 26 balls on Sunday, striking another two sixes. Former USA U-19 batsman Randall Wilson, who top-scored against the MCC with 76 off 105 balls while opening the batting alongside Syed on Saturday, was not invited to Indianapolis.
According to multiple sources, Wilson was one of several players, including Syed, whom selectors wanted to have a further look at evaluating as a middle-order option on Sunday's second match, taking into consideration USA's top-order batsmen - Steven Taylor, Akeem Dodson, Fahad Babar, Alex Amsterdam - are unlikely to change. While Syed seized the opportunity to bat in the middle-order playing against the MCC on Sunday, Wilson chose to play for his local club side Atlantis CC in their league final on Sunday - he made a second-ball duck - rather than suit up once again for the New York XI and thus missed out on an opportunity for a final middle-order audition.
In addition to Dassanayake, the camp will also have Trevor Penney serving as guest fielding coach. Penney, who is based in Montreal, Canada, has previously served as fielding coach for numerous international sides, most recently Sri Lanka. He was also India's fielding coach from 2011 to 2014.