Japen Patel leads defence of Robin Singh
USA allrounder Japen Patel has countered the criticism levelled by multiple team-mates against coach Robin Singh, saying that Singh has been "the best thing to happen to US cricket" and his involvement is vital to the continued improvement of the national team.
"There are bits and pieces that the US team does really well because of Robin," Patel told ESPNcricinfo on Monday. "I just think that whatever good Robin does is overshadowed by USACA and the stuff they do wrong. Players like me and Adil Bhatti improved our games tournament by tournament because of him and because he believed in us. He saw what we had to offer and gave us plans to follow. If he wasn't there then we wouldn't be able to progress ourselves as quickly."
Patel was the first of four players who took to social media on Monday to give their support to Singh. Patel and Fahad Babar, who was USA's leading scorer at WCL Division Three, gave strong statements in favour of the coach. Barrington Bartley also sought to distance himself from comments made by former USA captain Orlando Baker, with Bartley telling ESPNcricinfo that he "never have a problem with USACA management", which contradicts Baker's claim that players like Bartley and Timroy Allen would not stand for "disrespect" from Singh.
Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Danial Ahmed went a step further than Patel and Babar, accusing team-mates of lying about events that took place on last year's tour of the UAE and claimed that "the dressing room environment is perfect when Robin is around. The problem starts when certain individuals think they are bigger than the game itself and have a wrong attitude." Fast bowler Naseer Jamali, who played for USA at three tournaments in 2013, also sided with Singh.
"Robin wanted to bring the best out of us and it was never personal," Jamali wrote. "He has the old school mentality, which pushed players to give it all they had. And I don't blame him either for that approach. He had to deal with players that had the attitude and selfishness of amateurs."
While Patel gave an impassioned defense of Singh, he says both the coach and Allen needed to share responsibility for the locker-room confrontation that occurred on the tour of the UAE last year. Baker described the incident to ESPNcricinfo as "almost World War III", while Allen said it was a major reason for withdrawing his availability for WCL Division Three last month as he no longer wanted to play for Singh. Patel says the incident could have been avoided but the actions of both men indicated that the tension between them had been brewing for some time.
"I don't know what triggered it," Patel said. "They were just talking normal and all of a sudden both of them got personal so it was hard to tell who was at fault. They were having a conversation and all of a sudden it got heated. If I do something wrong and coach yells at me, I'm sure he only does it for the betterment of my game. You can take it as constructive criticism."
Patel also says he has a good relationship with Orlando Baker, who had also told ESPNcricinfo he would not play under Singh due to the breakdown in their relationship as player and coach. Patel did not hesitate to state that Baker is the best captain he has played under in his USA career, a view echoed by many other players, and hoped that Baker and Singh can patch up any differences they may have.
"I talked to Baker and said everyone deserves a second chance," Patel said. "Me and Baker are on the same page and I told him I think he should reach out to Robin because this will only hurt US cricket. Both guys are important. I think Baker is a great asset along with Robin, and if we can work together we can take things further."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna