USA Men’s T20 selection for Canada: What you need to know

Shadley van Schalkwyk bowls at the 2022 Houston Challenge. Photo credit: Major League Cricket

A squad of 15, plus three reserves have been named by USA Cricket for their upcoming Men’s T20i five match series against rival Canada.

Captain Monank Patel, vice captain Aaron Jones, Gajanand Singh, Jessy Singh, Nisarg Patel, Saurabh Netravalkar and Steven Taylor return as veterans in the T20 team for USA. 

Nosthush Kenjige and Usman Rafiq will enter the T20i side for the first time, both with ODI experience with USA.

Newcomers to any USA Cricket national team include Andries Gous, Corey Anderson, Harmeet Singh, Milind Kumar, Shadley Van Schalkwyk and Nitish Kumar.

Included as reserves are Sai Mukkamalla, Shayan Jahangir, and newcomer Jaunoy Drysdale.

Set for Prairie View Cricket Complex (PVCC) just outside of Houston, Texas, the series will run from April 7 through April 13. Prep for the series is set to begin on April 1 at PVCC.

Pitched as preparation for the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup, to be co-hosted in the USA in June, the Canada series will precede a series against Bangladesh, again at PVCC in May. 

Controversy in selection policy

Prior to the 2024 National Championships, USA Cricket determined that those unable to attend zonal trials, mostly held indoors during February, would not be eligible for selection into the national team. This policy disproportionately affected USA eligible players plying their trade in well established leagues overseas.

The policy kept Australia based former USA international fast bowlers Cameron Stevenson and 2023 MLC Bart King Trophy (for best domestic cricketer) award winner Cameron Gannon, along with young prospect Brody Couch from consideration for USA selection. Caribbean based cricketers like Karima Gore, a veteran of 24 internationals for USA, were also automatically omitted. 

“What’s really shocking is there was no communication between the players and the board, even though we’re playing first class cricket or professional cricket elsewhere,” Karima Gore told Emerging Cricket’s Big Innings Podcast. “You would like that communication to help you know what are your plans going forward, especially when you have a busy calendar.”

The balance in the resulting team selection is questionable, with only three fast bowlers in the 15 man squad, and an abundance of finger spin bowling options, including five potential right arm off-spinners. 

Newcomers to the squad

After leading USA in batting average (60) in five innings in the 2023 World Cup Qualifier, Shayan Jahangir was only included in the reserves. The former Pakistan U19 international was also the third highest scoring domestic batter in Major League Cricket, and second among USA-eligible domestics, while opening batting for his Championship-winning MI New York.

Corey Anderson led all domestic batters in Average (47.5) during the 2023 MLC season, while striking at 145.03 and high scoring with 91* at Grand Prairie Stadium, the site of USA’s upcoming World Cup contest against Canada. Yet Anderson’s selection comes after some controversy.

Leading up to the T20 National Championships this March, South West Zone selector Mark Demos publicly accused USA selectors and board members of attempting to remove the former New Zealand international and world record holder from the zonal squad. Anderson was eventually included in the South West squad, but did not turn out for the National Championships, nursing a nagging injury.

Demos also accused national selectors of forcing USA veteran Usman Rafiq into the South West squad for Nationals, and of forcing the South West to name him as their captain. The 35 year old has found himself in the squad for the Canada series after appearing in two ODI during USA’s 2023 ODI World Cup Qualifiers in Harare.

Nosthush Kenjige enters the T20i side after representing USA in 30 of 36 ODI in the prior Cricket World Cup League Two cycle. During the inaugural Major League Cricket season, Nosh stood out for MI New York with six wickets at a 5.73 economy in five innings, often bowling with the new ball, while helping New York to the league’s inaugural title. Along with Gous and Anderson, Nosh’s Dallas Mustangs won the 2023 Minor League Cricket championship. Kenjige has not appeared in a T20 for USA Cricket since before the ICC granted T20 International status to Associate Members in 2019. 

Andries Gous joins USA freshly eligible, after building a name for himself in high profile franchise cricket leagues. The wicketkeeper batsman moved to the USA in 2021 from South Africa, where he represented his home nation at the U19 level, and boasts a strong batting record across formats. Gous was Washington Freedom’s first pick in the 2023 draft, and scored 142 runs across six innings at 129.09 while opening, with a high score of 40. A not out score of 95 from 50 for the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in his ILT20 debut has raised his profile, and he is widely considered one of the best batters in the continent.

Left arm orthodox spinner Harmeet Singh, a teammate of Gous and van Schalkwyk on the Seattle Thunderbolt’s 2022 Minor League Cricket championship team, won a U19 World Cup with India in 2012. Representing Mumbai and Tripuri until 2020, Harmeet moved to the USA where he has cemented himself as an exceptional bowling all rounder. Sometimes overly passionate, Harmeet was selected first overall in the 2023 MLC draft by the Seattle Orcas. His seven wickets in seven innings at a 7.13 economy helped the Orcas to a surprise second place finish.

Top scorer in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, middle order batter Milind Kumar was purchased multiple times at auction in the IPL but never appeared in a game. Ninth all time in runs in MiLC with 1102 in 35 innings with Philadelphia and Lone Star, Milind’s 141.10 strike rate tops any batters in the top 12 in all time runs. Though he struggled in Major League Cricket scoring 101 runs in seven innings for the Texas Super Kings, Milind was retained in the squad for 2024.

Shadley van Schalkwyk’s record in South Africa made him an attractive import to Major League Cricket in 2020. With 239 first class wickets in 97 games, and another 234 in whiteball cricket, Shadley also possesses a very capable bat. Shadley has taken his many skills and experiences to the Seattle community, where he serves as captain of the Thunderbolts, and a popular coach to local youth. The spearhead for the Thunderbolts attack for three seasons running, yielding a national championship in 2022, Shadley was retained by Los Angeles Knight Riders after appearing in one game in 2023. His five wickets for the West led all bowlers in the USA 2024 T20 National Championships.

A key contributor for The Philadelphians, when healthy, Jaunoy Drysdale’s aggressive pace and lengths have bothered domestic batters for three seasons in Minor League Cricket. The right arm pacer has taken 28 wickets in 26 matches at a 7.63 economy. With four wickets in as many innings at the 2024 T20 Men’s National Championships, Juanoy earned a spot in the USA training squad and is listed as a reserve, but should receive game time against Canada with only three fast bowlers in the 15 man team.

After representing Canada and serving for a stint as captain, Nitish Kumar moved to Houston in 2021 in pursuit of a longer and more reliable domestic cricket season. Nitish has represented Canada internationally at the U15, U19, and senior men’s levels, and appeared in the GT20 and CPL before being drafted by the Los Angeles Knight Riders in MLC. The top run scorer in Minor League Cricket in 2023 (441 runs in 11 innings), Nitish guided Lone Star Athletics into the Super Eights round scoring one century and three fifties along the way. 

A historic rivalry

While Canada’s former captain switching allegiances to the USA would be enough to birth a rivalry of its own, Canada and USA have a history that predates any other.  

USA and Canada possess the oldest rivalry in international sports, dating back to September 24, 1844 in Manhattan, New York. Canada won the inaugural match, as well as the following two in Montreal and Manhattan in 1845. Controversy in Harlem in the 1846 matchup postponed the series for seven years. When the series finally resumed in 1853, again in Harlem, USA walked away with their first victory, by 34 runs.

The teams kept the rivalry going, facing off at least once a decade, including 15 times from 1900 through 1912, until South Africa, Australia and England formed the Imperial Cricket Conference and elected to exclude non-commonwealth nations from membership. USA and Canada would not meet again until 1963 in Toronto, where Canada would win by an innings and 164 runs. 

In recent years, USA and Canada have competed in some famously close contests, setting up a highly anticipated best of five series to preview the first game of the 2024 ICC T20 Men’s World Cup on June 1 in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Beginning in 2023, Canadians were permitted to play as domestics in Minor League Cricket thanks to a deal between MLC and Cricket Canada intended to strengthen the talent pool in MiLC, and provide Canadian cricketers with a quality domestic T20 system. The deal foreshadows Canadian owned and based teams in future editions of Minor League Cricket, and has invited speculation around the future expansion of Major League Cricket.

USA Cricket Zonal and National selection developments continue to be a hot topic on Emerging Cricket’s Big Innings weekly podcast


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