By Lloyd Jodah
In 2006 the Cayman Islands scored only 86 runs vs. the USA’s Under-19 team, and in 2009 the Cayman Islands scored only 65 in reply to USA’s 226 for 8 (in 35 overs), so its not clear where the idea came from, that they would give stronger opposition than the USA’s two previous opponents did in the ICC Americas Under-19 Qualifying tournament now being played in Florida.

Abhijit Joshi has captain his team to three consecutive wins. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

The Cayman Islands has a population of 54,000, which is about 10 % of the high school population of New York City, and as such it was no surprise that that nation’s Under-19 lads did not fare as well against the USA in yesterday’s 50-over match-up, in Florida. It’s a no brainer that more domestic cricket is the developmental way for USA cricket to proceed as even a NYC high school all star team would be drawing from a greater population base than the Cayman Islands’ team. Bermuda, which the USA defeated yesterday, has a population of about 341,000, which is also less than the NYC High school population.

The two teams faced off at the beautiful cricket stadium located in Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, FL, moving from the fast bouncy artificial pitches of the Park’s side fields to the slower turf wicket inside the stadium.

Cayman Islands won the toss and elected to take first strike. Medium pacer Kallim Ahmed was brought into the USA team in place of Trevor Singh and opened the bowling with Salman Ahmad. The latter quickly struck; getting Shane Cato adjudged lbw for a duck.

Cayman Islands’ Sacha DeAlwis had scored 93 and 103 in his previous two games and was clearly the danger man, however he slashed at a short one outside off by Salman Ahmad and Gurpreet Sandhu accepted the offer of a catch at gully. Cayman Islands, 8 runs for 2 wickets with their main and in-form batsman gone.

Hammad Shahid then bowled John Tweedie for a duck and Mital Patel wrecked Darren Cato’s stumps for the third of the Caymans’ five duck dismissals. Shayan Abdulghani wrapped up the tail, taking 3 wickets for 3 runs. The Cayman Islands would score only 40 runs all out in 25.0 overs, setting the USA their lowest victory target of the tournament, so far.

In reply, the USA’s vice skipper Steven Taylor, 23 not out and Fahad Babar, 7 not out, easily knocked off the required 41 runs in only 4.4 overs, to give the USA Under-19 lads an emphatic 10-wicket win.

Going by numbers apparently, the Man-of-the-Match was awarded to Shayan Abdulghani with bowling figures of 4-2-3-3. However Salman Ahmed’s opening spell in which he took the prized wicket of Sacha DeAlwis’ was the key to Team USA’s victory.

USA Under-19 captain Abhijit Joshi, like his predecessors Hemant Punoo and Shiva Vashishat, has gotten off to a good start as the team’s leader, decisively winning 3 out of 3 contests, though the opponents are considered the weakest in the six-nation tournament.

Giving countries like Argentina, Bahamas etc opportunities is good for the game, but it should be of concern to the ICC that their standard of play does not appear to be getting better.

Team USA rest today, then takes on Bermuda, whom they beat in the 2009 ICC Americas Qualifier, tomorrow, then archrival Canada on Saturday to wrap up the tournament.
Lloyd Jodah is President of American College Cricket