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Five USA players get 12-month contracts; three pull out of Global T20 Canada

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The USA men’s national team players are starting to reap the rewards of gaining ODI status, with a total of 17 players awarded central contracts through funding supplied by the recent investment deal signed with American Cricket Enterprises. However, it has also sparked a tipping point in the club v country debate as some have pulled out of the Global T20 Canada after signing a USA Cricket retainer, while others have opted to forgo a central contract to keep their options open for franchise cricket.

According to multiple ESPNcricinfo sources, two key USA players have turned down central contracts: Ali Khan and Hayden Walsh Jr. They are the only two USA players who were drafted in both the Global T20 Canada – where they will be teammates at Vancouver Knights – and in the Caribbean Premier League. Ali Khan is returning to Trinbago Knight Riders while Walsh Jr. has switched from St Kitts & Nevis Patriots to Barbados Tridents for the 2019 season. Accepting a USA contract would have opened up the possibility that they would be denied No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to participate in these, and other, T20 leagues. However, both Ali Khan and Walsh Jr can play for USA on a match-fee basis, even though they chose not to accept a contract.

Conversely, five USA players have received one-year central contracts while 12 others have received three-month deals. The five players to secure one-year deals are batsmen Steven Taylor, Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel and Aaron Jones, and medium pacer Jessy Singh. Both Taylor and Jones had recently lost their central contracts with Jamaica and Barbados respectively in the Cricket West Indies Professional Cricket League after not being retained in April’s PCL draft.

However, USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar and vice-captain Jaskaran Malhotra were not given one-year deals. Instead, they have been given three-month contracts along with the majority of those who made up USA’s squad from WCL Division Two in Namibia this past April that secured ODI status for the country through 2022. The only player not offered a contract from that squad was Roy Silva, the 39-year-old allrounder.

Consequently it means that Taylor, Singh and Timil Patel have withdrawn from the Global T20 Canada which starts on July 25 in Brampton, Ontario. It represents a shift in priorities for Taylor, who in the summer of 2015 had withdrawn from USA’s squad for the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Ireland to take up a rookie contract with Barbados Tridents and had stated ambitions to one day represent West Indies.

Two other USA players taken in the Global T20 Canada, fast bowler Kyle Phillip and batsman Sunny Sohal, were not offered USA Cricket contracts and have remained in the tournament. The availability of Netravalkar, Marshall and Jones for the CPL – drafted by Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs and St Kitts & Nevis Patriots respectively – is unclear.

Aside from that group, six other players have been given three-month contracts by USA Cricket in the buildup to the T20 World Cup Qualifying. They are former South African international Rusty Theron, former USA vice-captain Timroy Allen, Hampshire medium pace allrounder Ian Holland, former Guyana Under-19 batsman Akshay Homraj, left-arm spinning allrounder Nisarg Patel and batsman Sagar Patel.

The three-month contracts are dated to begin on July 22 when all contracted players will fly to Los Angeles for the start of a three-week training camp at Woodley Park, the site of USA squad trials that were held last month. The training camp is in preparation for the next round of 2020 T20 World Cup Qualifying, when USA travels to Bermuda to take on the host side, Canada and Cayman Islands in a double round-robin event from August 18-25. The top two teams advance to the global T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE from October 11 to November 4.

Following the conclusion of the qualifier in Bermuda, USA’s next action is their first home ODIs against Namibia and Papua New Guinea from September 7 to 14.

The series was originally announced by the ICC in May to be hosted at Church Street Park in the Raleigh, North Carolina suburb of Morrisville. But USA Cricket officials have confirmed that Raleigh will no longer host the matches. A new turf facility paid for by ACE funding which is nearing completion in the Silicon Valley town of Morgan Hill, California, is a leading candidate. If the facility does not receive clearance from the ICC in time, then Woodley Park in Los Angeles is the most likely alternative. The most recent international cricket to take place at Woodley was in November 2016 when USA hosted WCL Division Four. ACE hired a full-time groundsman for Woodley Park in June, brought in from India, to get the pitches at the facility back into suitable condition.

After the completion of USA’s home ODIs in September, all USA contracted players who are not part of CPL squads are expected to be flown to Bangalore for another three-week camp at India’s National Cricket Academy. The camp will serve as their final preparation for the T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE in October.

USA Cricket 12-month contracts: Aaron Jones, Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel, Jessy Singh, Steven Taylor.

USA Cricket three-month contracts: Timroy Allen, Karima Gore, Ian Holland, Akshay Homraj, Elmore Hutchinson, Nosthush Kenjige, Jaskaran Malhotra, Saurabh Netravalkar, Nisarg Patel, Sagar Patel, Timil Patel, Rusty Theron.





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Dark skies in Chennai as India look to shake off ODI rust

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India last played a 50-over game in August, but the biggest concern is the fickle weather



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Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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Stumps Sri Lanka 282 for 6 (de Silva 87*, Dilruwan 6*, Afridi 2-58) v Pakistan

A scintillating onslaught from the weather overnight proved yet again to be the definitive performance in the Rawalpindi Test, which did not see a single ball bowled on day four before play was called off at noon. Frigid showers have been in outstanding form right through this Test, and the force with which they imposed themselves on a hapless outfield ensured that the turf was too sodden for play.

The covers also showed signs of having endured a battering, with vast pools of water laying atop them in the morning. The groundstaff cleared some of the water off them over the course of several hours, but this merely made an inevitable result look a little closer than it was. There was just no beating the weather in this mood.



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Recent Match Report – Australia vs New Zealand, ICC World Test Championship, 1st Test

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Lunch Australia 0 for 1 (Warner 1*) and 416 (Labuschagne 143, Head 56, Wagner 4-92, Southee 4-93) lead New Zealand 166 (Taylor 80, Starc 5-52) by 251 runs

Mitchell Starc just kept doing what he always does in Australia, whether the ball is red or pink or white. He runs in and goes whang. In the course of that, he picked up his 13th five-wicket haul – seventh at home – to wrap up New Zealand for 166 and secure a lead of 250.

That gave Australia the chance to enforce the follow-on but it was hardly ever a realistic option with Josh Hazlewood out of the game with a hamstring strain. The ease with which Tim Paine and his men managed that – an injury to one of their best weapons to a pink ball – was remarkable. Of course, it must have helped that they had 416 runs in the bank and the batsmen they were targeting already had been in the field for nearly 150 overs.

Starc’s fifth wicket was a bit of an event though. He looked to have bounced Colin de Grandhomme out – umpire Aleem Dar certainly thought so – but when the batsman took the option of DRS, replays seemed to indicate the ball might have just gone off the helmet on its way to Steven Smith at second slip. But since the visuals weren’t conclusive enough the third umpire Marais Erasmus had to stick with the on-field call.

It tells a great deal of the faith Australia have in their fast bowlers that they went out to the field on Saturday and immediately settled into a short-ball plan. Starc and Pat Cummins were the only ones left standing. The heat was in the 40C range again. New Zealand were already five down, but their lower-order rarely ups and folds like a deck chair. There was a chance it could have gone all wrong, that the two big quicks would be bowled into the ground and Ross Taylor, who was well past fifty, could have marshalled the resources he had left to some semblance of safety.

But what really happened was, after swaying out of the way of a ball that was coming for his nose, BJ Watling was slow to get in line with the follow-up delivery and was bowled. A man who had come into this game with scores of 77, 105*, 205 and 55 had been one-twoed by Cummins’ ruthless precision. He has 52 wickets this year, 14 more than his nearest rival.

Taylor took on the short ball with varied degrees of success – some zipped past him while others zipped to the boundary – but his biggest test came at the hands of Nathan Lyon. The offspinner’s first over included a ball that skipped through the gap between bat and pad and nearly bowled Taylor. Ever since then, he began to look unsure of his scoring options because he was unsure how much the ball will spin. Eventually, a beautifully tossed up offbreak took Taylor’s outside edge as he played inside the line and he was caught for an otherwise flawless 80. Lockie Ferguson, who has already been ruled out of bowling in this Test match, came out at No. 11 to try and extend New Zealand’s innings but even that brave, last-ditch effort from New Zealand didn’t quite go the way they would have wanted it to.



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