Canada captain and St Lucia Zouks allrounder Nitish Kumar has been named to lead a 15-man ICC Americas squad that will play in the 2017 Nagico Super50 competition in Barbados from January 24 to February 18. Kumar is one of eight holdovers from the ICC Americas squad that went winless in their debut appearance at the Nagico Super50 in Trinidad & Tobago this past January.
The 22-year-old Kumar currently attends MCCU Loughborough and is one of six Canada players in the squad. He was the team's leading wicket-taker with six wickets in five games at the 2016 Nagico Super50 and was also one of four players to finish with at least 100 runs. Srimantha Wijeyratne, who was ICC Americas leading scorer after making 130 runs in four innings, and Trinbago Knight Riders wicketkeeper Hamza Tariq have also been retained.
Ruvindu Gunasekera, who captained the ICC Americas squad in 2016, has been left out along with fellow Canada batsman Navneet Dhaliwal and fast bowler Jeremy Gordon. Gunasekera who had made his Canada debut at 16 after migrating there in his youth, stated in a recent interview that he had moved back to his native Sri Lanka to pursue a professional career there. He opened the batting for Moors Sports Club, making 28 and 1, in a loss this week to Colts CC to begin the Sri Lanka first-class season.
St Kitts & Nevis Patriots offspinner Nikhil Dutta, who was omitted from the 2016 ICC Americas squad after a lacklustre performance in an open trial held at Indianapolis in September 2015, has been picked along with fast bowler Cecil Pervez, who tied for the team lead in wickets during the 2016 Auty Cup in Los Angeles against USA. Left-arm spinner Saad Bin Zafar is the other new Canada player in the squad.
Eight Americans have been picked, down one from the 2016 ICC Americas squad. USA captain Steven Taylor has been named Kumar's vice-captain while allrounder Timroy Allen, fast bowler Ali Khan, legspinner Timil Patel and batsman Alex Amsterdam have been retained. Fahad Babar, who made two half-centuries against Canada during the Auty Cup, has been picked for the first time along with fast bowler Jessy Singh and batsman Nicholas Standford. Akeem Dodson, Danial Ahmed, Muhammad Ghous and Hammad Shahid are the four players from USA who were part of the squad in 2016 that have been replaced for 2017.
Babar and Singh have just arrived in Sri Lanka to spend the next seven weeks with the Kalutara Physical Culture Club in Tier B of the Sri Lanka first-class competition. The opportunity was facilitated for them by USA coach and former Sri Lanka Test cricketer Pubudu Dassanayake. Both players will remain with Kalutara PCC until the end of the competition on January 22.
Allrounder Kamau Leverock has been chosen as the only Bermuda player in the 15-man ICC Americas squad. Leverock took 5 for 30 against a Canada Developmental XI on October 23 and then impressed with the bat at WCL Division Four, striking 137 off 111 balls including ten fours and eight sixes in a win over Jersey. Bermuda left-arm spinner Delray Rawlins was also considered but had to withdraw from consideration due to commitments with Sussex and England Young Lions.
ICC Americas first match is against Combined Campuses and Colleges on January 26. They are joined in the five-team Group B by Guyana, Jamaica and hosts Barbados Pride. Group A consists of Trinidad & Tobago, Windward Islands, Leeward Islands, West Indies U-19 and English County side Kent.