Aaron Jones: 'Once we play proper cricket, USA can beat any team in the world'

USA, playing in their first T20 World Cup, have qualified for the Super Eight stages

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
It didn't come around with a final dot ball or a wicket or a final scoring shot. The fans didn't get to celebrate in the stands. There was no drama. After about five hours of hard work from the ground staff, it was during a fresh shower that it was finally decided there wasn't going to be a match in Lauderhill on Friday. And with that, amid almost no fanfare, USA qualified for the Super Eight.
USA will take it whatever way they get it, but they came wanting to play cricket. "As a cricketer, me coming to the ground today, and the boys coming to the ground today, I think that you don't want to leave home and not play cricket," the USA vice-captain Aaron Jones said. "That's for me personally, I want to play. But at the end of the day, the rain… it's nothing that we can control. So we are grateful that we got to the Super Eights. But we left the hotel this morning thinking about playing cricket, we wanted to play cricket."
Jones is not one for doing cartwheels. "Yeah, definitely we are celebrating," he said. "Everybody's happy right now. Obviously qualifying for the Super Eights is a big thing, so everybody's happy right now."
Of course, the qualification didn't come around just because there was no play on Friday, leaving Pakistan no chance to draw level with USA let alone going past them. They qualified because they beat Pakistan and Canada, something Jones at least had warned the world about when he said USA were not there just to make up the numbers.
"Yeah, I definitely believed that earlier this year when I spoke about it," Jones said when reminded of his comments. "To be honest with you, a lot of people don't really pay much attention to US cricket. So probably the whole world don't already know how much talent we have here and how good the players that we have here are. I think that could be a little advantage to us, but definitely I think that on any given day, once we play proper cricket, we believe that we can beat any team in the world for sure."
USA will now get three big matches in the Super Eight, facing West Indies, South Africa and possibly England. Their prize money will jump by at least $150,000. The biggest boost will hopefully be more interest in cricket in the country after such an impressive showing in their first T20 World Cup. Especially given how this automatically qualifies them for the next T20 World Cup too.
"It's a big thing for us to be honest," Jones said. "Over the last couple of years, we've been speaking about playing in the World Cup, playing more games against the Full Member nations and stuff like that. And here we are doing it right now. And obviously qualifying for the Super Eights is really good. Not only for us right now in the moment but I think we'll qualify for the 2026 World Cup as well so I think it's a big thing for us. Not only for us but the fans around America as well. We really appreciate them for sure and not only for the fans but for the younger generation in America as well."
Even their rivals Canada have been rooting for USA because this brings the spotlight on the whole of North America. "I saw them last month in April, those guys were working really hard and I'm happy for them, how they qualified," Shreyas Movva, the Canada wicketkeeper said. "It's a motivation for us going into the next tournaments that USA have done it so we can do too."
Jones himself will be going back to the land of his birth, Barbados, to play two of the three matches. "It's really good for me to go back home," Jones said. "I'm really happy right now. I think I'll get a lot of support for sure, especially in Barbados. So definitely looking forward to it."

Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo