Thiru Kumaran to coach USA U-19 at regional qualifier
Former India seamer Thiru Kumaran has been announced as the new USA U-19 head coach to lead the team at the ICC Americas U-19 Division One Tournament to be held in Bermuda from July 5 to 12. The winner of the four-team event contested by Bermuda, Canada, USA and Suriname, will advance to the 2016 U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh while the runner-up will play in a repechage tournament due to be held in Nepal later this year for a second chance at securing a World Cup berth.
Kumaran, 39, resides in Texas and has previously been involved with the USA men's team as an assistant coach at the 2012 World Cricket League Division Four and the 2013 ICC Americas Division One under head coach Robin Singh. He served as caretaker coach for the USA men in the absence of Singh at the 2013 WCL Division Three in Bermuda, a tournament where USA began 3-0 before stumbling on the final two match-days to fall short of qualification for the 2014 World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand. He has not been involved with a USA squad since.
New York PSAL high school cricket league commissioner Bassett Thompson will serve as the USA U-19 manager in Bermuda after fulfilling the same role last August for the USA U-18 team at a regional preparation camp in Bermuda. NY PSAL assistant commissioner Ricky Kissoon had served as the USA U-18 head coach last year in Bermuda but was passed over in favor of Kumaran to lead the team on the upcoming tour.
USACA has also announced a 14-man squad for the tournament, spearheaded by former NY PSAL Wingate Award winner Keifer Phill. The fast bowler has also been a part of two ICC Americas Regional U-19 squads that have toured the West Indies in the past 12 months. Another player of note is Karan Patel, a Houston area player who is also a high school baseball pitching prospect with a fastball clocked at 89 mph according to one scouting website and has signed a letter of intent to play college baseball at University of Texas-San Antonio next year.
The team was selected following a selection camp held over Memorial Day weekend in Los Angeles. Several regional administrators have complained privately about the process, mainly due to the fact that three players - Phill, Chetram Persaud and Nahusha Rao - were selected despite not having attended the trial, according to multiple sources who attended it.
USACA selection chairman Barney Jones had told ESPNcricinfo in April that the selection committee would not consider any senior players for selection for the ICC Americas Division One T20 in Indianapolis if they did not attend the national tournament in Florida.
"We can't afford to pick people just because they played for the US before and they didn't show up or make the commitment," Jones said. "In order to get a proper team where people can work together, I believe that if we had picked people who didn't attend the tournament, and everyone knows who was there, that would create some kind of dissension and that's not what we want." However, that same standard does not appear to have been applied to evaluating players for selection to the U-19 team.
ESPNcricinfo attempted to contact USACA for a response to the change in stance regarding selection policy as it applied to the U-19 team. Inquiries made to USACA vice-president and director of player operations Owen Grey were redirected to Jones, who did not respond to a request for comment.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna