USA news April 7, 2016

Baptiste, West to serve as evaluators at USA regional combines

Eldine Baptiste (right) had coached Kenya from September 2009 before stepping down in 2011 © AFP

West Indies national selector Eldine Baptiste and West Indies U-19 coach Graeme West are set to join Mike Young as the lead talent evaluators at US scouting combines, which is being held in eight cities around the USA over the next two months, beginning this weekend in Los Angeles. Baptiste and West's appointment was announced on Wednesday by the ICC Americas office, which is coordinating each scouting combine.

"I am thoroughly looking forward to working with Mike Young as well as the ICC Americas and local cricket community on this project" Baptiste said. "It is a great opportunity for the players across the USA and extremely exciting for the development of the game."

Baptiste has prior experience working in an Associate cricket setup. Baptiste coached Kenya from September 2009 to April 2011, but stepped down shortly after Kenya's win-less performance at the 2011 World Cup in India.

The candidates at each city-based combine will also be put through a series of skills, fitness and agility tests conducted by BAM (Basic Athletic Measurement) Testing. BAM conducts skills and agility tests at the annual NBA Draft Rookie Combine. Headquartered in Seattle, BAM was founded in 2008 by former Dallas Mavericks head strength and conditioning coach Brett Brungardt.

"I'm intrigued to see how these cricketers stack up against some of the best athletes I've seen in basketball and other major US sports," Brungardt said ahead of the first regional combine in Los Angeles.

Young and ICC Americas high performance consultant Tom Evans are the two main holdovers from the trial held last September in Indianapolis, which also featured players from Argentina, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Canada and Suriname. Venkatapathy Raju and Courtney Walsh were utilized as the lead talent evaluators at that combine along with Young.

This weekend's trial in Los Angeles is the first of eight city-based trials conducted by the ICC to establish a national-team talent pool at men's, women's and U-17 levels. At the end of the eight trials, concluding in New York, the ICC is expected to name a group of 20-30 players in each category for a second round of auditions to be held later in the summer.

More than 100 applications were received for the men's trial in Los Angeles, with 55 players making the final list of invitees. They include eight current or former USA senior team players and six former USA U-19 players. The first trial for women's and U-17 players will take place in San Francisco from April 14.

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

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