Barbados legspinner Hayden Walsh Jr and batsman Aaron Jones have been called up in an eveventh-hour selection gamble as part of USA's 14-man squad announced to compete in the WCL Division Three in Oman next month. The arrival of the pair continues the selection merry-go-round for USA, who have struggled to find a consistent combination capable of winning matches against greater competition.
The batting order in particular has been a source of major concern with just two players - Steven Taylor and Monank Patel - going past 50 in USA's first five matches in the ongoing CWI Super50 Cup in Barbados in which the side has won one and lost four matches. Despite previous statements by the team management about wanting to use the Super50 as a preparation tour and pledging a commitment to those players to go to Oman, USA selection chairman Ricardo Powell said that his panel had reconsidered their views after recent performances.
"It was clear to me, coach and my fellow selectors that our middle order required strengthening and that is what we have done," Powell said. "Each inclusion has been on our radar of late and we felt it was the best decision for the team to win Division 3. Given the importance of this tournament, we decided to strengthen the middle order with current first-class experience."
Walsh Jr, 26, qualifies to play for USA by virtue of being born in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands and thus has American citizenship. Jones, 23, was born in Barbados but according to a USA Cricket press release is also an American citizen. Both players are contracted to the Barbados franchise after being taken in the CWI draft in May this year.
Former USA captain Taylor, who is contracted to Jamaica but is in USA's squad for the Super50 Cup, is also in USA's squad to tour Oman after being allowed to miss the start of the first-class season for Jamaica.
Walsh Jr has been a regular in the Barbados line-up for the Super50 while Jones was left out of the current Barbados 50-over squad. Jones, a middle-order batsman, has not played for Barbados since November 2017. In his career, he has played a total of two first-class matches for Barbados and eight List A matches for Combined Campuses and Colleges with a career-best score of 52 not out last year against Trinidad & Tobago for Barbados.
Legspinner Usman Ashraf and batsmen David Wakefield and Srinivas Salver were axed from the squad to make room for Jones and Walsh Jr.
Ashraf had taken a hat-trick as part of a five-wicket haul against Belize last month at the World T20 Subregional Americas Qualifier in North Carolina and was USA's second highest wicket-taker at the event.
At the Super50, Ashraf had proven to be an expensive but potent threat at times, taking a total of 4 for 57 across 9.1 overs in the two matches he played, both against Barbados. Walsh Jr was less incisive but also more economical in both matches against USA in what wound up being a virtual bowl-off with Ashraf, finishing with figures of 1 for 45 in 10 and 0 for 40 off eight overs on both occasions.
Wakefield and Salver had limited opportunities to showcase their abilities at the Super50 and failed to make an impression on selectors. Wakefield, a 24-year-old member of Canterbury's first-class set-up in New Zealand, scored 42 runs in three innings at the Super50 with a best of 25 against Jamaica. Salver scored 11 runs against CCC before back-to-back ducks in his final two matches against Jamaica and Barbados.
Medium-pacers Jessy Singh and Kyle Phillip are the other two players who have been dropped from USA's 16-man squad in Barbados in order to get under the 14-man squad limit for Division Three.
Ali Khan is the only other addition, having skipped the Super50 Cup to play for Kabul Zwanan in the Afghanistan Premier League in Sharjah. Khan has only played one match for Kabul though, dropped after returning figures of 0 for 53 on the opening night of the season.
Batsman Sunny Sohal was named in USA's squad for Oman, despite a knee injury sustained during a training session in Barbados, which has kept him out of the entire Super50 Cup. Sohal has since flown home and is being replaced in the Super50 squad by Jones for USA's remaining three matches.
USA is expected to have a short camp at home before traveling to Oman in the first week of November. They will take on the Denmark, Kenya, Singapore, Uganda and the hosts from November 7-21 with the top two teams advancing to WCL Division Two expected to be held in the spring of 2019.