USA Cricket announce zonal captains, group amendment, and Covid-19 player bubble

USAC zonal captains

USA Cricket has announced three items affecting their Men’s Under 19 National Championships on Tuesday. All eight captains were named, Covid-19 protocols were described, and groups were rearranged. 

USA Cricket have swapped the West Zone Reds from Group A to Group B, in exchange for the West Zone Blues. According to the announcement, changes were made with the intent of “achieving the best competitive balance for the tournament and giving appropriate opportunities for all players towards selection for the USA Under 19s team from the tournament.”

Group A now includes the Mid-Atlantic Zone, captained by Philadelphians’ Nitish Mahesh; the South Zone, captained by Danush Kaverimpakam of Atlanta; the West Zone Blues, captained by Sahil Kancherla of Seattle; and the zone-independent Colts, captained by KwaZulu-Natal Inland (first-class, CSA 3-Day Provincial Cup)  wicket keeper/batsman Slade Van Staden. 

Group B will now include the East Zone, captained by Mohammad Shaw of New York; Midwest Zone, captained by Chicago Blasters’ Mohit Patel; South West Zone, captained by Irving Mustangs’ Ali Sheik; and West Zone Reds, captained by East Bay Blazers’ Sanjay Krishnamurthi.

The announcement also clarified that the tournament would be played in a “player bubble environment,” and that every participant will be tested before traveling to Texas for the tournament. Family and friends who wish to attend will be barred from contact with the participants throughout the tournament.

‘The Men’s Under 19 National Championships is the culmination of a huge piece of work, through the ongoing Pandemic, that has seen us safely hold 14 Zonal Trial events over a 6 month period,’ USAC’s Cricket Committee Chair and Board Member Sushil Nadkarni said in the announcement. 

‘These events combined with the new selection panels we have appointed for all of our Zones, and the naming of the Training Groups at Men’s, Youth and Women’s levels is massive progress and we now have the foundational pathways in place that we have so sorely needed for many years.’

Addressing the regrouping, Nadkarni continued, ‘We are absolutely committed to ensuring that we have the best competitive balance for this critically important tournament. One of the main outcomes from this National Championship is in helping our selectors pick the strongest possible USA Under 19 team, who are seeking to qualify for the ICC Under 19 World Cup later in the summer for the first time since 2010. The change in groups will ensure the best balance between the teams and also have the least possible impact on scheduling and preparations.’

Due to the change in group composition, the schedule has also been amended. The first day of the tournament will now feature the South Zone against the West Zone Blues, the Mid-Atlantic Zone against the Colts, and the Midwest Zone against the South West Zone on Monday, April 5 at 10am.

Each team will play four games, three within groups, and one ‘playoff’ each, as the group stage winners will face off for the championship, and the remaining six teams will play across groups to determine the final standings. 

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