Ryan Corns in USA squad, McGarrell ineligible
Ryan Corns, the player of the tournament at the 2009 Under-19 World Cup Global Qualifier, has been selected in USA's senior squad for the first time, to go to the ICC World Cricket League Division Three (WCL Div. 3). Three other uncapped players - Durale Forrest, Ritesh Kadu and Asif Khan - will also go to the tournament, which will be played in Hong Kong from January 22-29, 2011. Neil McGarrell, the left-arm spinner who has played four Tests for the West Indies, has been ruled ineligible to play for USA in the tournament.
"All four guys bring something special to the team," USA coach Clayton Lambert said on Wednesday. "They're all solid players. In Corns and Khan we have two left-arm spinners. We have another medium pacer in Forrest. Kadu is going to help in the wicketkeeping department and he's a very solid batsman."
Khan has perhaps the strongest pedigree of the four newcomers to the USA squad. A 31-year-old former Pakistan first-class cricketer, Khan has bowled a series of stifling spells with his left-arm orthodox spin over the last two years, playing for the Central East Region in USA Cricket Association (USACA) tournaments.
The USA team was desperate for a left-arm spinner after McGarrell was ruled ineligible. According to several sources, McGarrell was included in the squad that was sent to the ICC, but didn't fulfill the requirements to play for USA. ICC rules stipulate that a player must have been a resident of the country for a minimum of 183 days for each year in the four years preceding a tournament in order to qualify. USACA vice president of operations Manaf Mohamed confirmed on Wednesday that McGarrell failed to meet that requirement as he had only been in the country for enough days in the last three years.
"We're going to miss McGarrell, but hopefully we can have him qualify for the next tournament [WCL Div. 2] and we can go out there and do what we need to do to get to Dubai," Lambert said. If USA finishes in the top two in Hong Kong, they will advance to WCL Div. 2, which will be played in the UAE in April 2011.
Forrest has a strong reputation as a bowling allrounder, playing league cricket in New Jersey while representing the Atlantic Region. Kadu is a consistent performer for the South West Region and finished as the second leading run scorer in the Southern California Cricket Association (SCCA) First Division. He has been picked as a reserve wicketkeeper for Carl Wright.
USA's first match in Hong Kong will be against the host team on January 22. Since the start of the current World Cricket League cycle in 2009, the host team has finished first or second in five of the six tournaments played, with the lone exception being the 2010 Division One played in the Netherlands in July 2010. However, Lambert isn't distracted by the challenge of playing what could be USA's toughest opponent in the event right off the bat.
"If we want to go through to the next tournament, we have got to win at least four games," Lambert said. "We're hoping that we're going to play as well as we can and we think that our skill is good enough for the tournament. We're hoping to win the tournament actually. It might not happen that way, but that's our goal."
USA Squad: Steve Massiah (captain), Sushil Nadkarni (vice-captain), Orlando Baker, Ryan Corns, Lennox Cush, Kevin Darlington, Durale Forrest, Muhammad Ghous, Ritesh Kadu, Asif Khan, Rashard Marshall, Aditya Thyagarajan, Usman Shuja, Carl Wright.
Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey