USA Cricket is today forced to announce the postponement of the planned National Championships in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent escalation in cases across the U.S. which has led to tighter restrictions being implemented in some States.
USA Cricket has taken the decision to cancel each of the Men’s, Women’s and Youth National Championships previously planned for 2020 as there is no longer any possibility of rescheduling them this year. USA Cricket can confirm however that three of the five remaining Men’s and Youth Zonal Trials will continue to take place over the next two weekends, with specifically designed USA Cricket COVID protocols continuing to be strictly enforced.
The decision to cancel the National Championships was taken after full consideration of the potential health and safety risks involved, with expert advice provided by an experienced sports medical practitioner. In particular, the transportation of more than 100 players, officials and parents by domestic air travel from a range of differing COVID environments to a single location for a prolonged period of time and long, intense competition was considered to be an unnecessary and unacceptable level of risk, particularly with COVID infection rates currently spiking across the country.
USA Cricket Chief Executive, Iain Higgins, stressed, “We have been eager to explore the staging of competitive domestic cricket for the best players across the US even throughout this pandemic, but the health and safety of players and officials remains our primary concern. As a result, the USA Cricket Board has made the difficult decision to cancel the National Championships into next year. We have left no stone unturned in our efforts to stage these events in 2020 as we recognize how important they are to achieve our strategic objectives of improving the performance of our national teams and increasing participation, but we owe a duty of care to all participants and we have to act responsibly.
Of course, we are delighted that we have so far been able to safely complete the majority of the Zonal trials that have been staged across the country and we remain committed to expanding the pathway and creating new opportunities for our best domestic cricketers in 2021, including in National Championships.”
The USA Cricket Zonal trials, which have been successfully completed in 9 locations over the past four weeks, will continue over the next fortnight in 3 of the 5 remaining locations, Houston, the Bay Area and Tampa. The Los Angeles and New York State trials will be rescheduled as soon as the relevant COVID-19 restrictions in those locations allow.
Regardless of the decision to cancel the National Championships, the Zonal trials will help USA Cricket to identify a significant number of talented players across the country and to name National Men’s and National Youth training groups as well as six Zonal training groups at each of the Men’s and Youth levels. During the regular off-season from December through to March, this will see over 250 players being brought into a more structured environment and being given an opportunity to develop their overall game and return to the 2021 season in peak condition and form.
USA Cricket Operations Director, Richard Done, explained, “The more we can offer individualized and specific training programs to our leading players at Zonal and National level, the stronger the competition for representative places will become. We want to see who will challenge themselves to be the best and so create a better performance and competition environment across the country. 2021 is a hugely important year for USA Cricket with both the USA Men’s and Men’s Youth teams having the opportunity to take the next step in qualifying for ICC global events, and the USA Women’s team having the opportunity to play in two qualifying events across 50-over and T20 formats. Following the Women and Girls Talent ID trials that have run throughout 2020, we will also adopt a similar approach to growing the female talent pool and improving the quality of the best female players at both the women’s and women’s youth levels.
“I would also like to reassure any players who feel they may have missed out on an opportunity in 2020 for whatever reason to fully demonstrate their skill and ability, that they should not be disheartened and that further and new opportunities will be established in early 2021 to get involved. The best way to ensure that players do not miss out is to ensure you are registered with us.”