USA Cricket have this week named over 275 cricketers to their Men’s and Youth Zonal Training Groups across all six USAC zones. The announcement comes two weeks after USA Cricket named their Men’s National Training Group.
‘The naming of the Zonal Training Groups for Men and Men’s Youth is a critically important part in the further development of the USA Cricket domestic cricket structure and will provide another clear step in the pathway for the next generation of Team USA players,’ East Zone Men’s and National Men’s Youth Selector Steve Massiah said in the announcement.
‘The players in these Training Groups will no doubt make up the majority of the players who will play in the 2021 National Championships. I would like to congratulate all of the players named, and wish everyone the best for their training ahead of the 2021 season.’
Zonal Training Groups will train together in regionalized hubs and Zonal Teams will be selected from these groups to face off in the aforementioned National Championships. According to the announcement, these training groups may be fairly fluid, with outside players having the chance to earn their way into the squads. The announcement also mentions Minor League Cricket performances having weight on selection, and hope for a full season of play in the summer of 2021.
The plan is that the national zonal system, combined with Minor League Cricket, will help form a pathway for American cricketers into the Men’s National Team.
The 2020 MiLC exhibition season saw several good performances from men’s cricketers not included in the announced 44 man Men’s National Training Group. Ali Samad and Prajith Mudi from Emerging Cricket’s Team Turf; and Darpan Patel, Karan Kumar, Bruce Blackwood, and Garth Garvey from Emerging Cricket’s Team Mat were amongst National Training Group omissions who’ve earned a place on their respective Men’s Zonal Training Groups. These zonal training groups should ideally give zonal players the chance to earn their way into the National Training Group.
Amongst notable U21 performers from the MiLC not named in the zonal teams are 19 year old USAC U-19 and Grizzlies all rounder Sohan Bhat (14 overs at 6.86 ER), Austin Athletics 20 year old Saad Humayan (15 overs at 6.73 ER), and 19 year old Morrisville Cardinals opener Mohammad Abdullah Shah, who led all MiLC U21 batsmen in strike rate (121 runs at 165.75).
Otherwise, the Minor League Cricket U21 demographic was fairly well represented throughout the training groups, with 44 of 77 U21 players who appeared in a 2020 MiLC exhibition game named to a zonal group. The Midwest Region featured the most MiLC U21 players in their men’s training group, with four, while the East zone featured no MiLC U21 players in either their men’s training group, or their men’s youth training group.
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