Ghous named USA captain for ICC Americas T20
Offspinner Muhammad Ghous has been chosen to lead a young USA side at the ICC Americas Division One T20 tournament in Indianapolis beginning May 3. The USA Cricket Association announced Ghous as the new captain on Saturday and also tabbed former legspinner Nasir "Charlie" Javed as team's head coach for the tournament.
Ghous, who will be 25 at the start of the tournament, is the most experienced player in the 14-man squad named on April 7 in terms of games played for USA - 60 caps since making his senior team debut against Jamaica in 2010. Ghous has never held a formal leadership role in any USA junior or senior team before, nor at regional level with either the Atlantic or Central East Region squads.
Ghous is tied with left-arm spinner Danial Ahmed for the most wickets for USA in T20 cricket with 21, though Ghous has taken 27 games to do so, 13 more than Ahmed. At the USACA T20 National Championship, Ghous managed just four wickets in four games but had a solid economy rate of 4.27. He managed to hold off fellow offspinner Pranay Suri for a spot in the team despite Suri's tournament best 12 wickets. In Ghous' last T20 tournament action for USA, he struggled at the 2013 World T20 Qualifier in the UAE where he claimed just two wickets in six games at an average of 75.50 and an economy rate of 8.38.
The USACA press release unveiling Ghous' new leadership role described him as an allrounder but Ghous has never batted higher than No. 9 in any match for USA at the senior level, having done so in just eight of his 27 innings, and has reached double-digits only seven times. His highest score was 39 against Canada in the two-day Auty Cup match in August 2011.
Wicketkeeper batsman Steven Taylor, the youngest player in the USA squad, has been named vice-captain. Taylor, 21, has the most T20 caps for USA of anyone in the squad with 28, and is USA's all-time leader in T20 runs with 906, more than twice as many as the next closest person on the list, the recently retired Sushil Nadkarni. Akeem Dodson, with 23 caps, is the only other player in the squad with more than 15 T20 caps for USA. Taylor, Ghous and Dodson have 78 T20 caps between them while the rest of the squad combined has just 72.
USACA also announced that Mrunal Patel has been drafted into the 14-man squad in place of Japen Patel, who has withdrawn his availability for the week-long tournament. Mrunal produced the highest individual score at the USACA T20 National Championship, 111 not out off 60 balls for the eventual tournament runner-up USA Development XI against Atlantic. It is Mrunal's maiden call-up to the senior team having previously represented the USA U-19 team at the 2006 ICC U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna