Former WI seamer Lawson in USA squad
Former West Indies fast bowler Jermaine Lawson could make his USA debut after being chosen in a 14-man squad for the ICC WCL Division Three, which takes place between October 23 and 30 in Malaysia. Lawson, 32, once took a Test hat-trick for West Indies in his 13-Test career, but had not appeared for them since the opening Test in Brisbane against Australia in November 2005.
Lawson moved to the USA in 2010 and qualified to play for USA this year based on the ICC's four-year residency requirement. He becomes the third former West Indies international in the last two years to be selected for USA in an ICC tournament squad, joining Adam Sanford and former USA captain Neil McGarrell, who have both been dropped following USA's 15th place finish in their most recent event, the World T20 Qualifier last November in the UAE.
Lawson has not appeared in a USACA tournament since 2011 and instead has kept busy barnstorming around the country in private T20 tournaments. He has also been playing club cricket in New Jersey and New York, where he now resides. His selection for USA, though, comes at a curious time given that there are still doubts in local cricket surrounding the legality of his bowling action; he had been called for throwing in a local league in Jamaica, in 2006.
Three more names who figure prominently as returnees to the USA squad are Steve Massiah, Usman Shuja and Aditya Thyagarajan. Massiah resigned as USA captain ahead of last year's World T20 Qualifier in what USACA stated in a press release was a move to allow Massiah to focus on his batting. Massiah was initially named in the squad to tour the UAE, but withdrew prior to the squad's departure for Abu Dhabi, allegedly due to a rift with the touring squad management.
Shuja and Thyagarajan were controversially axed from the USA squad ahead of the team's participation in the last WCL Division Three tournament in Bermuda, in 2013. Shuja is USA's second-highest wicket-taker in 50-over cricket, and Thyagarajan is the team's fourth highest run-scorer in the same format. Their experience was badly missed at the event, as USA suffered a shocking upset on the final day of the group phase at the hands of Bermuda, a team they had not lost to in ICC tournaments since 2005. The result put USA in third place and kept them out of the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand.
The return of Massiah, Shuja, Thyagarajan and opening batsman Sushil Nadkarni is a plus for USA, part of a big shakeup following a miserable performance last year in the UAE. Besides McGarrell and Sanford, six other players were dropped, including Timroy Allen and Orlando Baker. Baker captained USA to an 8-0 success at the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament in Florida last year, while Allen served as vice-captain to McGarrell in the UAE and stood in as captain for two matches when McGarrell was injured late in the tournament. Allen was named Man of the Match in USA's only win in the group phase, against Canada.
The other four players to be axed were fast bowler Imran Awan, wicketkeeper Akeem Dodson, and allrounders Barrington Bartley and Japen Patel, who captained the South East Region to a share of the tournament title at the USACA Twenty20 National Championship in August. The other two players entering the squad are Adil Bhatti, who earns a recall after being named the best batsman at the USACA Nationals in Florida, and Timil Patel, a former Ranji Trophy representative for Gujarat.
Timil rose to prominence at the national level in 2012 when he starred for the Southern California Cricket Association in their championship win at the first American Cricket Federation T20 National Championship. He was drafted into the USA squad for the first time later that year against Canada in the annual Auty Cup series. Timil captained USA in 2013 against Canada in Toronto but the legspinning allrounder was ineligible to play for USA at ICC tournaments until this year due to the four-year residency rule. Timil moved to Los Angeles in 2010 where he plays for Vijayta Cricket Club, currently undefeated and in first place in the SCCA, which still maintains its status as an ACF league.
USACA did not name a captain in the squad release, but sources have indicated that Massiah has a prominent say in the composition of this squad and is in line to take the mantle once again. USACA also stated in its release that the rest of the tour management would also be named at a later date. USA will play their first game of the tournament against Bermuda, on October 23.
USA squad: Danial Ahmed, Fahad Babar, Adil Bhatti, Karan Ganesh, Muhammad Ghous, Elmore Hutchinson, Jermaine Lawson, Steve Massiah, Sushil Nadkarni, Timil Patel, Srinivasa Santhanam, Usman Shuja, Steven Taylor (wk), Aditya Thyagarajan
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna