USA Cricket recently announced their Men’s Under 19 Training Group, listing 26 names, all having participated in the recent Men’s U-19 National Championships. Every team from the National Championships received representation, including six from Southwest Zone, five from West Zone Reds, four from Mid-Atlantic Zone, four from South Zone, four from Colts, and one each from Midwest Zone, West Zone Blues and East Zone.
‘After such a wonderful event in Texas our Men’s Under 19 Selection Panel had plenty to consider whilst choosing this initial group of 26 young cricketers in contention to represent USA Men’s Under 19s this summer,’ USA Cricket Chair of National Youth Selectors, Amer Afzaluddin said in the announcement. ‘The selection panel would like to congratulate all of those players and also note just how incredibly strong the competition and cricket was at the Under 19 Men’s National Championships. We are looking forward now to working closely with this group to build the strongest possible side to represent the USA at the critical U19 World Cup Qualifier.’
Anecdotes of the depth of quality in the National Championships abound. One big example is the fact that the sixth leading run scorer in the tournament, Taahaa Warraich, was not included in the group of 26. Instead of Warraich, who opened batting for the East Zone, the selectors chose openers Rehman Dar, who led the tournament in runs, Saiteja Mukkamalla, who finished third in runs and helped lead the Mid-Atlantic Zone to the championship, and Kanish Balla, who had similar strike rate and average to Warraich, but played in three games for West Zone Reds to Warraich’s four.
Perhaps the biggest example of this cycle’s depth, as well as the weight of performance in the National Championships, is the exclusion of former U-19 wicket keeper Rahul Jariwala. Jariwala was third amongst all openers in runs on turf in the 2020 Minor League Cricket exhibition season, and was featured in Emerging Cricket’s Team Turf and Team U-21. While Jariwala saved his best performance in MiLC for the best bowling attack in the Bay Area (77 runs from 57 balls against Rusty Theron, Sanjay Krishnamurthi and company), that performance as an opener apparently did not weigh as heavily as his 19.32 average at 66.67 strike rate batting mostly at number four for the West Zone Reds.
The inclusion of four players from the zone-independent Colts team in the training group underscores the importance of the Colts team concept. The Colts create chances for players who were excluded by their own zone, like Gautham Ravindran from the South Zone, and players who qualify for USA Cricket, but don’t necessarily qualify for any regional zone, like South African and USA passport holder Slade Van Staden.
The announcement means that USA Cricket have now selected Men’s, Men’s U-19, Women’s and Women’s U-19 Training Groups.
The complete list of the 26 invitees:
Slade Van Staden
Skanda Rohit Sharma
Elton Tucker Jr