Steven Taylor to captain USA U-19s in Canada
USA senior team wicketkeeper-batsman Steven Taylor has been named the Under-19 captain of a 14-player squad set to travel to Canada next month for the 2013 ICC Americas U-19 Division One tournament. Taylor made headlines in March when he became the first USA senior team batsman to score a century in Twenty20s, doing it off 61 balls against Bermuda, and was the leading scorer at ICC WCL Division Three in May, where he made 162 off 102 against eventual Division Three champions Nepal.
Taylor first represented the USA U-19 team as a 15-year-old in 2009 and was one of the youngest players at the 2010 ICC U-19 World Cup, where he scored a half-century in the group stage against Ireland. At the 2011 ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier in Ireland, he set a USA U-19 record with 140 off 120 balls against Papua New Guinea and was tied for second overall in the tournament with 455 runs at 56.87 including two centuries.
Taylor previously captained an U-15 squad in 2009 at an ICC Americas tournament in New York. Six of Taylor's team-mates from the U-15 squad in 2009 made it to the final 14 heading to Toronto next month. Vice-captain Krishneal Goel, Arsh Buch, Kwiese Edmondson, Rishi Patel, Trevis Ross and Roshan Varadarajan have all continued along the junior pathway with Taylor.
Another noteworthy pick is Omar Afridi, a former Scotland junior representative player. Afridi notched centuries against Huntingdonshire in 2011 and Herefordshire in 2012 while playing for Scotland U-17s. Despite playing periodically for Scotland's youth teams, Afridi has US citizenship and has been attending high school in New Jersey for the last several years as well as playing club cricket in New York.
A slight surprise was the omission of Amarnauth Persaud, a member of USA's U-19 squad at the 2011 ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier in Ireland. He batted at number three for USA in three of the seven games he played in that tournament and was the only player besides Taylor from that squad who was still eligible to be picked for the U-19 team this year. Persaud was part of a group of 25 players invited to Florida on the first weekend of June to participate in a USACA selection trial, but despite his previous experience playing international cricket for the U-19 team he was passed over.
USA will play Bermuda and Canada in a new double round-robin format at this year's ICC Americas U-19 Division One tournament with the winner claiming a spot in the 2014 ICC U-19 World Cup in the UAE. Robin Singh will serve as coach for the USA U-19 squad in Canada.
USA U-19 Squad: Steven Taylor (captain), Krishneal Goel (vice-captain), Omar Afridi, Shakeel Ahmad, Arsh Buch, Kwiese Edmondson, Patrick Palmer, Rishi Patel, Ryan Persaud, Keifer Phill, Trevis Ross, Waqas Shah, Roshan Varadarajan, Randall Wilson.
Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey