High hopes for US Junior tournament
The US National U-15 and U-11 Championships being played in the San Francisco Bay Area has a great deal going for it - a group of talented youngsters with skills honed by two years of tournament and matchplay, outstanding performances against international junior teams, and an infrastructure of facilities supported by city and county leadership that has few equals elsewhere in the USA.
In the past two years, US Junior teams have competed well against international junior sides. The closest encounter was with the Australian U-15 team which had stopped by in San Francisco last year after a tour of the Caribbean. USA won the first match with two wickets to spare, but Australia fought back to take the second match by one wicket. That loss to the Australians was the only match that any US Junior team has conceded in international matchplay.
The original plan for the junior cricketers was to have a US team in the U-19 World Cup tournament in India, in 2011. Those plans received a setback when USA was expelled by the ICC, leaving many countries reluctant to schedule tours or matches with US teams. Now that the USA is back in the fold, the Academy's program can proceed normally, but the damage may have been done.
Nevertheless, a senior official of US Junior cricket believes the team will make it to the U-19 World Cup in 2011, and what's more, they will win it. Brave words, but they have the ring of self-confidence born of past accomplishment. So far, at least, every interim goal set by the Academy has been achieved. There is every hope that this string of success will continue.
Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA