USA captain Steven Taylor has been named in Jamaica's 14-man squad for the WICB Nagico Super50 tournament, which begins January 24 in Antigua and Barbados.
Taylor, American-born and raised to Jamaican immigrants in Florida, had been spending his off-seasons from the Florida club calendar to play club cricket in Jamaica for the last two years in a bid to improve of chances for Jamaica selection, and it has finally paid off. The 23-year-old, who is contracted with Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League, had been named as vice-captain last month for the ICC Americas squad due to play in the Nagico Super50.
Taylor was in the ICC Americas squad last year for the Nagico Super50 competition and was expected to be an integral part as a returning member of this year's team, especially after scoring a blistering 124 not out off 95 balls against Oman during USA's run to the ICC WCL Division Four title in November. However, a pair of batting spots opened up in the Jamaica squad after Chris Gayle was ruled out due to injury and Marlon Samuels reportedly took up an offer to play with Leewards Islands, paving the way for Taylor's inclusion.
The move from the ICC Americas squad to Jamaica leaves a hole at the top of the batting order for the combined USA-Bermuda-Canada squad. Canada's Srimantha Wijeyratne, who was the leading scorer for ICC Americas last year at the Nagico Super50, is expected to fill one opening spot while the other may be contested between USA's Fahad Babar and Bermuda's Kamau Leverock. Babar has been playing first-class cricket during the winter with Kalutara Physical Culture Club in Sri Lanka while Leverock struck an impressive 137 off 111 balls opening the batting against Jersey in Division Four.
No replacement has been announced yet for Taylor in the ICC Americas squad. He is the second player who has been plucked away from the combined squad after Bermuda's Delray Rawlins withdrew from consideration to commit to the England U-19s' tour of India in January-February 2017.
A potential showdown between Taylor and his several of his USA team-mates looms on February 1 and again on February 11 when Jamaica is scheduled to play ICC Americas. The ICC Americas squad opens up Group B against Combined Campuses and Colleges on January 26 while Jamaica's first match is against CCC on January 24. Barbados and Guyana round out Group B while Group A is comprised of Leeward Islands, Windward Islands, West Indies U-19, English county side Kent and defending champions Trinidad & Tobago.