USA's Allen and Dodson give support to Baker
Two of former USA captain Orlando Baker's team-mates have publicly backed up his criticism of the USA Cricket Association leadership headed by president Gladstone Dainty and coach Robin Singh, and have asserted that they will join Baker by not playing for USA until the situation changes. The two players, Timroy Allen and Akeem Dodson, say they are fed up with USACA's lack of support for the team.
"This administration has failed in team selection preparation and management," Dodson, 27, wrote in a lengthy note posted on social media on Saturday, in which he gave special thanks to "TopCop" Baker for taking a stand. "They have failed every touring staff from captain to cook because of their constant refusal to invest in proper team preparation and management prior to departure from American shores. Unless and until USACA make changes, I, Akeem Dodson, will not play for any USACA selected team."
Allen, according to USACA selection chairman Barney Jones, withdrew from the tour of Malaysia for WCL Division Three for personal reasons; Jones told ESPNcricinfo that Allen's wife was expecting their third child and Allen needed to stay home. When ESPNcricinfo contacted Allen, he said his wife is not due until February and that this was provided as a polite excuse to USACA. Allen said it was clear from past precedent that the team was not going to be given adequate preparation to succeed and he did not want to be a part of a doomed touring party.
"I didn't want to travel all that way to embarrass myself," Allen told ESPNcricinfo. "You have people who want to succeed and want to do good but you can't expect anything better for the team with the preparation they were provided before the tournament. It's an embarrassment to the country."
Regardless of how much preparation was slated for the team, Allen also said he could not envision himself ever playing for Robin Singh again after his locker-room confrontation with the coach last November in Abu Dhabi which was cited by Baker. Allen was one of more than a dozen USA players contacted in September by ESPNcricinfo who stated they would not tour Uganda if Division Three was held there due to safety and security concerns. However, Allen also stated at the time that he would not participate for USA in Division Three even if it was moved to a different location as long as Robin Singh remained coach. Allen was unwilling to state it publicly then but felt it was necessary now once Baker's stance became public.
Baker also received support on social media from Basil Butcher Jr, who has been the longtime coach for the Atlantic Region men's and U-19 teams but has also served as the USA Women's team head coach on tour in 2012 and was the USA team physio on tour in the UAE at the World T20 Qualifier last year. The locker-room confrontation, Butcher wrote, was a "disgrace on the part of the coach".
Allen says the team manager contacted Dainty after the locker-room incident with Singh, during which the coach allegedly said he wanted Allen sent home from the tour, but the USACA would not pay for a plane ticket to send Allen back home and instead the vice-captain remained on tour. The team atmosphere was allegedly so dysfunctional that when captain Neil McGarrell missed the last game of the group stage due to injury, Allen only found out he was stand-in captain for the team that day after seeing UAE captain Khurram Khan standing alone in the middle of the pitch waiting for the toss. Allen says he and Singh continued to avoid interaction on that day as well as the 15th place playoff match against Denmark that McGarrell also missed due to injury.
"If Robin wanted to say something, he would send a message for [wicketkeeper Steven] Taylor and Taylor would relay it to me but Robin never actually came to me to say anything," Allen said, something that was corroborated by at least one other team source. "I just went out for the toss. I don't think he actually wanted Taylor to communicate with me. He was giving all the directions to Taylor and Taylor wanted to run it by me because I was the captain on paper."
Allen says Singh apologised to him on the final night of the tour for the locker-room incident that occurred two weeks earlier, but by that point it was far too late to salvage team morale or his own relationship with the coach. He says he wishes Singh well and believes Singh may be a good coach elsewhere but isn't a good fit for USA.
"Robin Singh is above the coaching level that we probably need," Allen said. "He coaches bigger teams and they're winning in the IPL and CPL so obviously he does something right. But at the level we're at, I don't think he is beneficial. You can't just expect the players to arrive and the coach comes in for a couple of days and expect to do great things."
ESPNcricinfo reached out to Singh for a response to Allen's statements but a request for comment went unreturned.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna