USA cricket December 27, 2010

Blizzard causes logistical problems for USACA Junior Nationals

A major snowstorm, affecting the northeastern part of the United States, is threatening to disrupt the USACA Junior Nationals, scheduled to start on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The Under-19 national championship was supposed to feature teams from the South West, North West, South East and New York regions. Over 2000 flights across the US have been cancelled because of the winter storm, including the New York team's flight that was scheduled for Monday morning out of JFK airport, as 12 to 18 inches of snow mixed with 35-50mph (56-80kmh) winds hammered the New York metropolitan area on Sunday with the storm forecast to continue into Monday.

ESPNcricinfo contacted New York U-19 coach Ricky Kissoon by phone on Sunday night and he said his team is fearful of missing the entire tournament, which is supposed to run from December 28 to December 30. The cricket association's vice-president of operations Manaf Mohamed confirmed that it appeared the earliest New York could get a flight rebooked from New York to Los Angeles would be on Thursday, the day that the tournament is scheduled to end.

The South East U-19 team may also be affected. According to team manager Owen Grey, six members of the squad who are flying out of Fort Lauderdale in Florida have connecting flights on Monday through Philadelphia to get to Los Angeles. Philadelphia has also been heavily affected by the blizzard. A National Football League game between the Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings that was scheduled for Sunday night was postponed until Tuesday night due to the snowstorm.

Los Angeles has also seen its share of weather problems in the lead-up to the event, with record rainfall in the last two weeks causing floods and mudslides in southern California. The average annual rainfall in Los Angeles is 15 inches, but so far in the month of December the city has experienced 10 inches of precipitation. The grounds at Woodley Park, the venue where the tournament will be played, still had damp outfields on Sunday afternoon after more showers on Saturday night, but the square was mostly dry and it is hoped that enough sun on Monday will make the whole ground suitable to start the tournament on time.

The tournament was originally scheduled for November 12-14 in Fort Lauderdale, but was postponed due to financial problems USACA was experiencing at the time. The tournament is being used as an opportunity for players to showcase their skills in front of selectors for a chance to be picked in USA's U-19 squad for the ICC Americas U-19 Division One tournament from February 7-12 in Fort Lauderdale. The top two teams will advance to the U-19 World Cup global qualifier scheduled for June or July in Ireland.

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey