To continue our commitment to transparency with you, the U.S. cricket community, over the next several months I have decided to write a series of blogs which I hope you will find informative and enlightening as we continue to build an exciting future for USA Cricket.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Men’s National Team for their victory in the ICC Americas Sub-Regional Qualifier in Raleigh, North Carolina last month and sincerely thank the town of Morrisville, the Triangle Cricket League, the hundreds of volunteers that made so many sacrifices in the lead up to the event and the thousands of fans who turned out in their red, white and blue to support our boys. Each and everyone of you contributed to the team’s victory!
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The Women’s National Team has their own ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier/ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier that they soon will be preparing for as well. We were excited to learn this past weekend that we will have an Americas’ Qualifier in the second quarter of 2019 that we hope to host which will include the best of three fixtures against Cricket Canada.
The U19 National Team will also be busy in 2019 with their ICC U19 World Cup Qualifier and we will be organizing a final selection camp early in the year. If we win there (we lost on NRR at the 2017 qualifier), our U19 team would be playing in a World Cup.
As many of you know, we have an extremely important event commencing in 17 days in Muscat, Oman and the team has been working hard over the past several weeks in Barbados competing in the Cricket West Indies Super50 Cup. We would like to thank Johnny Grave and his staff at CWI for all their support of our national team as it was by far the best way we could have prepared our athletes in advance of ICC World Cricket League Division Three (ICC WCL Division 3) next month.
While we are on ICC WCL Division 3, I would like to address a number of key areas in an effort to answer some of the questions that have been raised publicly. Let me start by being clear that I support the efforts and decisions of our staff and selectors 100%. So much so that I’m happy to bear accountability with them given that, as of yet, I’ve not seen my name raised in this process although I have taken calls, texts, emails etc.
As I’m sure you are all aware, the selection of teams is never easy. Especially in a “team sport” where you simply don’t take the best time or score or throw, etc. Team sports require selectors to choose the best team which includes selecting people to play various roles that are required on a team both on and off the field of play.
In addition to the above, ICC WCL Division 3 in Oman and ICC World Cricket League Division 2 (ICC WCL Division 2) thereafter could be the most important competitions cricket in United States has ever seen. How we perform in the next two competitions will dictate whether we have 36 funded matches of competitive cricket over the next two plus years and crucially gain ODI status for USA, or have 15 matches of competitive cricket over that same time period. To achieve the former, we would need to finish in the the top 2 places at WCL3 in Oman and then go on to finish in the top 4 places at WCL2 in April 2019. If we do, it would not only give ODI status to USA but would also give us a significantly higher chance of qualifying to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2022. In addition, our available “competition funding” would increase by more than three times. Given that, we owe it to cricket in United States to choose the players that are most prepared to perform. A slide detailing the different pathways is below:
Given the importance, I believe the selectors and your staff have selected the team most capable to lead to success in Oman in November and hopefully Namibia in April 2019. They did so following the published Selection Policy which allowed for various paths to be chosen to represent the Team USA. I believed that regardless of the outcome during the Super50 Cup but I must admit, it was nice to see Aaron Jones make 66 runs (third highest for Team USA for the tournament behind Monank Patel’s 109 and 80), take two wickets and make an acrobatic catch in only his second game representing the United States. It was also great to hear how well both Aaron and Hayden Walsh, Jr. meshed with the team in the Team USA training sessions in which they voluntarily participated. Our Head Coach, Pubudu Dassanayake, has coached three Associate teams over the past 11 years and firmly believes this is the best group of talent he has had the pleasure of coaching with a team spirit that is second to none.
— USA Cricket (@usacricket) October 19, 2018
If successful like we all envision, we’ll use the next two years to develop more talent including homegrown players and U19 or recently graduated U19 players like we have done with Kyle Phillip as we travel the globe playing in those 36 matches.
As much as I hope the words above will help the passionate cricket community to understand why we chose the team we did, the true proof will be in the way this team performs against incredibly strong competition Oman. But regardless, I am proud of the selectors and our staff for having the intestinal fortitude to make the hard decisions that they believed would put our team in the best position to be successful. For those that know me, I often speak of the “hard right” vs. the “easy wrong” and in this situation, I truly believe they made the “hard right” decision that leaves Team USA in the best position to have success in November. The easy thing to do would have been to stick with those players previously on the team while the hard thing to do is pick those who are best able to perform regardless of the public opinion. Further, these decisions were in compliance with both the Selection Policy as well as precedents that I’ll speak to below.
While I don’t often like to address baseless and un-factual rumors, I 100% stand by the following:
- The Selection Panel selected this team. They did so with the input of our staff and did so within the published procedures that allow them to select from combines and trials or other means. I support them 100%.
- There is precedent with other players who have been selected to Team USA without combines or trials but through other means allowed by the Selection Policy similar to Aaron and Hayden. Jaskaran Malhotra and Sunny Sohal are two players who come to mind who were selected to the team in 2017 and 2018 respectively but did not attend combines and trials in 2016. Both Jaskaran and Sunny have become a leaders of the team both on and off the field – Jaskaran as your current Vice Captain and Sunny with his extensive feedback and input with other batsman in the team.
- There is absolutely no “gag order” issued. Like any selection process, we typically don’t discuss the outcomes as that is a disservice to all the athletes including those not selected.
- Right, wrong or indifferent, the Selection Policy does not provide preference for U.S. developed players vs. foreign developed players. Only that we select the best team available.
- Athletes on the cusp of not making the team have been communicated with and know exactly why the decisions have been made. Those same athletes are definitely part of our future and assuming their attitude and commitment remains, they will be the benefactors of the future opportunities that come as a result of our ICC WCL Division 3 and ICC WCL Division 2 success.
- The team selected as well as the performance staff, selectors and me personally, are confident this team will succeed.
- USA Cricket appreciates all the athletes that participated in the combines including those athletes who are part of this team, those that narrowly missed this team and those that have more work to do.
In closing, I hope some of you now better understand the process but I certainly will continue to understand (and respect you) if you don’t accept my perspective or don’t agree with it. I’ve been involved with team selection for more than 15 years of my career and it’s always the most polarizing and controversial topic there is that has many sides and many opinions. Regardless of those opinions, I hope you will join me in supporting Team USA in Oman and beyond.
Good luck to Team USA and thank you for all of your support! Stay tuned for updates from Oman.
Eric J. Parthen
USA Project Manager