Two of the CPL ICC Americas players joined their Minor League Cricket teams for inaugural games this weekend. Jessy Singh of Guyana Amazon Warriors returned to New Jersey to play for Somerset Cavaliers and Shayan Jahangir of Barbados Tridents returned to Houston to play for Houston Hurricanes for their respective exhibition debuts on Sunday.
Jessy’s return was just in time to help the Somerset Cavaliers over the New England Eagles in their first MiLC exhibition game. Coached by former USA Cricket coach Pubudu Dassanayake and loaded with USA Cricket stars, the Cavs appear to most as true heavyweights in the league. Jessy was one of two Cavaliers bowlers to complete their quota, along with former Windies ODI representative Sawn Findlay, and he tacked on 11 from 7 in a brief cameo with the bat, as the Cavaliers rolled to a 57 run win over New England.
Inclusion in the CPL has been a big boost for Jessy Singh, even if the pay isn’t great. As Emerging Cricket has mentioned before, ICC Americas players get paid only $3,000 USD for their slot in the tournament.
With two weeks of quarantine tacked on at the beginning of the competition, this meant that ICC Americas players might be trading over a month of better earning potential for a chance to make their mark. For some, the price simply isn’t worth it, especially during this unprecedented time of uncertainty and risk. But for Jessy, cricket always comes first.
“For me, at the moment, it’s not about the money, it’s about the opportunity to show my talent,” Singh told Emerging Cricket.
Born in Queens, Jessy Singh has been in and out of the national team since his USA debut in 2015. Having long established himself as one of the best seam bowlers in the country, Jessy became a contract player in July of 2019, after being a part of the USA team which earned ODI status.
“Representing USA has always been my goal.”
As is so often the case in Associate nations, when one door opens another door shuts, and this was also true for Jessy in the summer of 2019. Jessy had been drafted into Canada’s GT20 for their second edition, a season which would include 60 Associate players signed to contracts. It’s no exaggeration to say that GT20 has served as a springboard for ICC Americas talent.
In 2018, USA fast bowler Ali Khan got a chance with the Winnipeg Hawks and never looked back. In 2019, it was USA all rounder Hayden Walsh Jr who hopped on the GT20 jet and rode it all the way into the Windies white ball teams. Unfortunately for Jessy, his USA contract would require him to ditch the GT20. Like longtime teammates Steven Taylor and Timil Patel, Jessy picked country over club. Sadly, Jessy would be dropped after the annual Super 50 that November in spite of some solid performances in ODI and T20i.
All of that is now in the past, and Jessy found himself fully immersed in the world of franchise T20 cricket, ready to learn what he could to take the next leap.
“There’s a lot to take away from this experience. I’ve seen some characters… We were struggling to qualify, and some players put their foot out there and they said ‘ok, we’re going to do it!‘ Guys went out there in the field and they got the job done. So definitely, character is important in any pressure situation, whether you’re playing a club game or representing USA or playing in CPL.”
Selected by Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jessy was in an unlikely position to get playing time from the start. Guyana have been one of the league’s most successful and deep franchises in the league for years. The quality of the franchise seemed to have a big influence on the New Jersey native.
“I think Amazon Warriors are a family. They look after each other, and they guided me throughout the tournament. Two of the people who stood out for me…who really looked after me was (first) coach Rayon Griffith, an assistant coach. He stayed in touch with me throughout and he was guiding me and he himself was a fast bowler, so that was obviously a great help.
“Another person who took care of me and guided me and told me how it works at this level and what it takes to go to the next level is Imran Tahir. He’s a gem of a guy…He created an environment for me where I didn’t feel like I had just newly walked into the team. Imran Tahir is definitely a legend who looked after a newcomer.”
In spite of not getting a game, Jessy relished the lessons learned in the dugout and the nets.
“Personally, bowling wise, I enjoyed it being here. Certain things I obviously picked up from players and coaches here, which I’m going to take back and execute those things in Minor League Cricket and hopefully those results can go in my favor. What I really know is that I had enough to make it to CPL. For anyone to survive at this level, I saw what you need…I definitely see what I can add to my game.”
Shayan Jahangir was ready to go for the Houston Hurricanes on Sunday, and contributed 50 off the bat from 38, but it wasn’t enough to beat Irving Mustangs, who won by 75. Batting at number three, Shayan came in during the first over and stayed until the 13th when he got out, just as he was accelerating. Houston was 105/4 when Shayan left, and collapsed to 119 all out in the 17th. A five-for in the first innings from teammate Hamza Khalid (4-22-5) helped Houston bowl Irving out for 194, but it wasn’t enough to defeat USA’s Nosthush Kenjige (4-21-4) and the Irving Mustangs.
“Getting some batting time in the middle after 6-7 weeks was nice, but it’s always disappointing when you do the hard yards and can’t finish the job for the team,” remarked Shayan to Emerging Cricket, following the game.
“A learning experience for our dugout. Not fazed by the loss, but definitely a lot to reflect on.”
The vice captain elaborated on those lessons, focusing on the positive performances in the game.
“Hamza’s five-for was a major takeaway. We would really like him to press on this great start and be that guy for us in the middle period with his variation and accuracy. We would like to win these games, but we as an organization are trying different things. Giving the young guys chances supporting them, and giving them full playing time.”
After representing Pakistan at the U-19 level and Pakistan International Airlines until 2017, the 25 year old Shayan eventually moved from Pakistan to the USA for “the love of my life, my beautiful wife. And I’m glad I did, that brought me here.”
Shayan expressed gratitude for his experience in the CPL, and his hope to bring the experience into MiLC.
“CPL for me has been phenomenal…Last I played at an international stage was when I represented Pakistan Under 19 back in 2013-2014. To this, sharing the dressing room with the current greats, it’s been a true learning experience.
“Picking brains of coaches like Trevor Penny, Andy Flower and players like Rashid Khan, Mitch Santner, Jason Holder. It’s given me that sense of belief- that sense of belonging. And definitely has improved me as a cricketer and as an individual too!”
Appearing in only one game without batting, Shayan experienced first hand the standard of play in the CPL and work required to get there.
“These opportunities are up for grabs, keeping in mind players in North America need to work their hearts out every single day. There are no shortcuts. Nothing comes easy in life and the leap from American Cricket to (CPL) is a huge jump. It could be overwhelming if a player isn’t ready both mentally and physically. I encourage players to work harder than they currently are and keep the performances up and you never know, they might end up getting a nod to come and represent one of the teams in CPL.”
As for the challenge of dealing with the pressure of expectations in Minor League Cricket since returning from CPL, Shayan believes they are universal no matter what is at stake.
“Nerves are always there. I try to embrace it, live it. It’s just like every other feeling. I’m looking forward to representing Houston Hurricanes….Standards will improve drastically and local players will definitely get a shot to showcase their talent and also get the recognition if they do well. It’s a blessing if you ask me.”
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