Six countries of the ICC Americas Region will play in the Pepsi ICC Americas U19 Championship which takes place at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club from Monday July 6th to Saturday July 11th.
Argentina, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Islands and the USA make up Division One of the Americas U19 Development Programme.
The top two teams in the round robin standings will advance to the newly formed Global qualifier to be played September 1st-13th, hosted by Cricket Canada. From this 10 team tournament the top six will advance to the U19 2010 World Cup.
Bermuda (2008) the USA (2006) and Canada (2002, 2004) have all represented the region with modest success in previous World Cups. The 2002 World Cup in New Zealand saw current Canadian senior captain Ashish Bagai smashed a boundary on the last ball of the innings to secure a tie against full member Bangladesh. In 2006 the USA defeated Namibia and in the last WC, Bermuda's Chris Douglas was a one man wrecking crew against the Irish. For the first time ever two teams from the Americas could actually qualify to play in the World Cup under the new pathway designed by the ICC, but first, one step at a time .
Which two teams would likely qualify and have a chance of making history At the risk of annoying the four not chosen and keeping in mind that famous saying "Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties" one would have to favour the top three consisting of Bermuda, Canada and the USA.
Bermuda will have at least four players returning from their championship squad of 2007 while second ranked Canada has six. The USA did not play in the 2007 Championship but with their vast number of players to choose from and an excellent U15 squad they are somewhat an unknown but very formidable opponent.
Rating the teams and their key players:
Argentina ? Alejo Tissera, the captain of the squad will have to lead by example. Augusto Mustafa had a brilliant innings against Cayman Islands in 2007 and his skills will be much needed on the team that has a history of struggling to score runs. If the 2009 edition is anything like the past their biggest asset will be their fielding ability and their hearts of gold. They will make you work to achieve victory that has been their trademark and should be no different this year from what appears to be a very young and developing squad. They will most likely battle Bahamas for the wooden spoon.
Bahamas- Five returning players from the first ever squad at this age level in 2007 will give the Bahamas much need experience this time out. Bahamas is the only affiliate in the region that currently fields both an U15 and U19 squad and their structured system may just start to pay some dividends. Marc Taylor will be leading the batting as well as his country this time out. Jermaine Adderley and Rudolph Fox have got some experience which should help. Batting again will be major hurdle for this team as they fight it out with Argentina to stay in Division one.
Bermuda ? You have to like their chance of retaining the title. Terryne Fray, century maker from 2007, will skipper the team this time and will be well supported by talented players such as Christopher Douglas (senior experience against Canada and the West Indies, Man of the Match in Bermuda's victory over Ireland U19 in 2008), Jordan De Silva and left arm pacer Greg Maybury. Experience and talent will make this team tough to beat.
Canada ?Six returning players from 2007 will make this team a force in the competition. Experience is a major factor and they should not make the same errors that cost them the 2007 championship by 13 runs to Bermuda. Rustum Bhatti, at this young age, is already a veteran on the cricket field. He has skippered the U15 squad and represented Canada at the senior level. A brilliant wicket keeper and no rabbit with the bat, he will be one of the Canadians to watch. He should get support from opening bat Ruvindu Gunasekera, a leading run getter in 2007 and also a member of Canada's senior squad. Arsalan Qadir and Asif Manjra are bowlers that can destroy the opposition batting. Hiral Patel, Usman Limbada and outstanding U15 Nitesh Kumar will give the Canadians good depth.
Cayman Islands- No doubt their skipper Ramon Sealy will have to repeat his outstanding batting performances of 2007 ( 3 half centuries) for this team to have a chance. A mixture of experience and new developing talent they will be interesting to watch. The Cato and Parker boys will have to step it up in support of their skipper. One thing is certain they will bat all 50 overs on most occasions, so be prepared for a tough game against this team.
USA- No one knows what to expect having missed the 2007 tournament. We do know the captain, Abhijit Joshi is batting machine. As skipper of the U15 in the Americas championship last year he complied over 260 runs in five innings. Steven Taylor from Florida, is an excellent wicket keeper and batsman who can also bowl if needed He is another a fine product of the U15 squad that finished second to Canada last year.
Ryan Corns from Texas has an excellent cricketing background being born and trained in his native South Africa. Like all USA teams you can never take them for granted.