USA news October 8, 2015

The special six in the ICC Americas squad

A look at six members of the ICC Americas squad who made the cut after clearing both phases of the selection trial

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'Evans: Pleasing to see high level of intensity from Phase One players'

Ali Khan

The poster boy for why the whole ICC Americas Combine in Indianapolis was conducted in the first place - to discover players who had not been earlier identified, or were ignored, by the old system of national selection organized by local governing bodies. Khan hails from Dayton, Ohio, hardly a cricketing hotbed. As such, the fast bowler either travels 470 miles east to Washington D.C., or 300 miles northwest to Chicago, to find a decent game of cricket on the weekend.

With the retirements of fast bowlers like Kevin Darlington and Usman Shuja in recent years the pace-bowling depth of the USA squad has appeared thin. But Khan was one of several fast-bowling prospects to emerge at the trial to demonstrate that there was still plenty of talent around the country that had not been found. His ability to bowl yorkers virtually on demand was the highlight of his performances and went a long way towards his progression into the final team.

Timroy Allen

Contrary to Khan, Florida-based Allen has had a distinguished record for USA since his debut at 21 in 2008 in the WICB Regional 50-over tournament against Barbados. Since then, it has been a topsy-turvy journey for Allen, who has battled with his share of injuries - and USACA officials - while being a match-winning allrounder in the Andrew Symonds mould. Coming in at No. 7, Allen's dynamic hitting with the bat turned matches upside down while he was equally effective bowling medium pace or offspin with the ball.

In 2013, however, he vowed never to play for USA again - due in part to disagreements with coach Robin Singh - after a frustrating sequence of tournaments which saw USA fall short of a place in the 50-over World Cup Qualifier and finish last in their group at the World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE. Some people had questioned his attitude and dedication to cricket, but during the trial in Indianapolis Allen was the most electric player on the field. Not only was he a star with bat and ball, but won rave reviews from fellow participants for his leadership on and off the field. He will be a pivotal player for the team's chances of victory in Trinidad.

Danial Ahmed

Left out of USA's squad for the Twenty20 Qualifier in Ireland after a mediocre performance in the Americas Qualifier in May, Ahmed's career with USA that started brightly in 2012 was dimming down to a flicker. But the left-arm spinner from Washington DC stormed back into prominence during the trial. Consistency, that had evaded him earlier in the year, returned and he produced spell after spell of stump-to-stump lines, strangling run-scoring.

Ahmed doesn't do a lot in terms of turning the ball, but he is solid at mixing up his speeds to keep batsmen off balance and, by attacking the stumps, he gains more than his fair share of leg-before decisions. His one weakness is in the field, but his inclusion is a recognition that his effectiveness with the ball more than makes up for that.

An ability to bowl yorkers almost on demand was the highlight of Ali Khan's performances during the ICC Americas trial © Peter Della Penna

Alex Amsterdam

Originally from Guyana, Amsterdam represented his homeland at Under-19 level in 2009 in the WICB Regional U-19 tournament, where he was team-mates with Guyana Amazon Warriors fast bowler Ronsford Beaton. He came to New York not long after playing for Guyana U-19 and represented USA for the first time at the World Twenty20 Qualifier this summer in Ireland after completing the ICC's four-year residency rule for eligibility.

A left-hand bat, Amsterdam is more of a grinder than a flamboyant stroke-maker. His top score at the Qualifier came in a win over Hong Kong, where he made the most of a life on zero to finish 43 not out. In the trial matches in Indianapolis, he similarly made the most of his extra chances and top-scored in one game with 65 before retiring. He's expected to stake a claim for a middle-order spot in the team.

Srimantha Wijeratne

The former Sri Lanka U-19 wicketkeeper-batsman was only able to participate on the final day of the trial's first phase and was not among the eight players invited back for phase two with the expenses being paid for by the ICC. However, the selection panel identified four players who, if they paid their own way to return for phase two, would be given a chance to compete.

Wijeratne was one of the four provisional invitees. His own personal investment to fly back from Toronto paid off in a big way with his inclusion in the final 15-man squad. Wijeratne is especially classy off his legs, playing gorgeous flicks to anything straying onto his pads, but also holds a strong cut shot. He only scored 11 runs in two matches at the World Twenty20 Qualifier in Scotland but a major confidence boost may come from knowing he was one of only six Canada players who made the final cut in the combined USA-Canada squad.

Jeremy Gordon

At 28, Gordon is two days older than Allen and in his prime as a solid medium-pacer for Canada. Like Wijeratne, he only showed up for the final day of the phase one section of the trial but immediately stood out with a hostile short-pitched spell that got him two wickets and threatened several more.

In phase two, Gordon did not take a single wicket, but regularly had batsmen under pressure with the new ball. He brings an added dimension to the attack with his height and bounce. Gordon briefly represented Guyana for five first-class games after his debut in 2007, and will be heading back to the West Indies looking to prove that he's a better player now than he was when he left for a new beginning in Toronto.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna

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