Five USA national team players have joined the Barbados Tridents training camp this week as part of their own preparation ahead of the 2016 World Twenty20 Qualifier in Ireland next month.
Wicketkeeper Steven Taylor had previously been offered a trial with Tridents to compete for a development contract as part of an opportunity facilitated for him, four Canada players and a Bermuda player through the ICC Americas office.
Apart from Taylor though, four other USA players including Japen Patel, Adil Bhatti, Jasdeep Singh and T20 captain Muhammad Ghous travelled to Barbados at their own expense to train with the Tridents after receiving an invitation from their coach Robin Singh, who has worked with USA national teams on a contract basis since 2011. In addition to the national team players, local Washington Cricket League player Mohammad Kamran has also travelled to Barbados. According to sources, Washington Cricket League president and former USA team manager Shoaib Ahmed helped facilitate the opportunity for all of the players through Robin.
The USACA had announced a pre-World T20 training camp in Jamaica from June 19 to 21, but five USA players will be in Barbados from June 15 to 22 after receiving indications that yet another USACA organised camp for Jamaica had fallen through. Patel said on Monday from Barbados that the players were contacted only a week ago for the offer of going to Barbados, but quickly rearranged plans and secured sponsors to pay for their individual flights and hotel costs in order to make the trip possible. He hopes it will provide them with the intense preparation they need to do well in Ireland.
"The main thing I want to get out of this is fitness," Patel told ESPNcricinfo. "I want to make sure that I'm match-fit since we haven't been playing any cricket on turf. So I'm just looking to get more turf practice and getting in the groove of playing a lot of cricket since we're expected to perform in back-to-back games in Ireland. This camp will help get us back in the mindset of thinking about cricket everyday instead of being weekend cricketers."
Patel said his initial expectations were that the USA players were only going to observe the Tridents training sessions and then at the conclusion would have their own separate sessions with Robin. However, he says he was thrilled that the Tridents team management has fully integrated all of the USA players into their daily routine.
"I like the fact that we are actually involved with their day-to-day camp activities and their programs in addition to the training," Patel said. "It has been good so far because all of the senior players are treating us like we are part of the camp. Every time they see something they come up to us and tell us how to fix it and how to go about things. The first day was a really good experience. Guys like [Kieron] Pollard, Dwayne Smith, Ravi Rampaul and everyone else there has been very helpful. They are treating us like they are our mentors. We are willing to learn and they are willing to offer.
"In the USA, yes we practice but we don't practice the right way. Over here, they are on point. Whatever they are going to focus on in the match, that's what they practice. So for bowlers, they focus more on bowling yorkers or whatever their role is in the match whereas back in the USA, you just come in and bowl normally. Here it is a higher level and you are facing batsmen with higher skills. When I bowl to someone like Pollard, I have to think about where he is trying to hit and my job is to think about what ball I want to try to bowl without him hitting me. So that level of thinking can only happen when you bowl to somebody with that skillset."
USA open their World T20 Qualifier campaign on July 10 against Nepal in Belfast. Nepal have been having extended preparation in India after their home facilities were damaged following a major earthquake on April 25. In the past, USA have been undone by lack of preparation rather than lack of talent but Patel believes this experience in Barbados may give the handful of USA players a much-needed lift to lay the platform for success in the qualifiers.
"For me this is a very good confidence-booster because this was a camp where when I first came in I expected to see how far away I am from playing at that level," he said. "After coming here and hearing the feedback, I think it just requires a little bit of hard work so I'm willing to put that in and hopefully I'm able to turn that into performances in Ireland. There's a few adjustments in T20 which I am expecting to get out of this. How to approach and build my innings, bowling wise how to read a batsman. Those are the things I'm looking to learn rather than any technical work. So far it's been more than what I expected."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna