North Carolina will host international cricket for the first time when the 2020 World T20 sub-regional Americas qualifier is held at the new USD5.2 million cricket-specific facility at Church Street Park in the greater Raleigh area from September 19 to 26. The ICC's decision confirms news reported by ESPNcricinfo last month that the venue was the preferred choice among ICC Americas officials ahead of Woodley Park in Los Angeles, which hosted ICC WCL Division Four in 2016.
The four-team tournament featuring USA, Canada, Panama and Belize was originally announced to be held from September 16 to 23 but the start date clashed with the final of the Caribbean Premier League in Trinidad. Seven USA players and one Canada player are currently part of CPL squads; the ICC accommodated a slight shift in dates to allow any of those players to make it to North Carolina in time should their franchise reach the CPL final.
However, the Auty Cup series of 50-over matches between USA and Canada, which was tentatively slated to be held immediately after the T20 qualifiers in North Carolina, is currently in danger of being scrapped. According to a USA Cricket official, their attempts to lock in an agreement on match dates have been hampered by a lack of communication from Cricket Canada officials.
"We would be honoured to host the oldest international sporting event of all time given the longstanding tradition," USA Cricket project officer Wade Edwards told ESPNcricinfo. "We feel it is a great opportunity for our athletes to play more competitive cricket. It is unfortunate we have not received official communication from Cricket Canada regarding this year's event."
A Cricket Canada official did not respond to ESPNcricinfo when contacted last week about their participation for this year's Auty Cup. The 2016 edition won 2-1 by Canada was played in Los Angeles, while last year's series was played in Canada where the USA broke a 26-year drought in a 2-1 series win.
This year's Auty Cup can only be squeezed into a small window at the end of September both for cost and logistics reasons. Both teams already have their flights to North Carolina covered by the ICC for their participation in the T20 qualifiers. The extra hotel costs of an extended stay to contest the Auty Cup are typically covered by the host country, in this case the USA. According to sources, both teams have been invited to play in the Cricket West Indies Regional Super50, which is due to start in the first week of October and continue through the end of the month.
After the conclusion of the CWI Regional Super50, USA will then have a few days off at home before flying to Oman for the start of ICC WCL Division Three, which is scheduled to take place from November 7 to 21 according to multiple sources. USA will compete against Denmark, Kenya, Singapore, Uganda and the hosts, with the top two teams promoted to Division Two.
This year's Division Three tournament will stretch longer than the customary eight-day schedule for World Cricket League tournaments because Oman only has two turf wickets available for use, meaning only four of the six teams can play on any match day instead of having the three matches being played simultaneously. A source has informed ESPNcricinfo that Oman Cricket agreed to help subsidise the extra hotel costs in order to allow for the lengthened schedule.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna