World Cup Qualifier Opportunity Missed

By: Orville Hall

The USA’s campaign began with a bang in Bermuda last week, as they made light work of Heavyweight Nepal in the first game, beating them by 94 runs. Opener Steven Taylor took a liking to Nepal’s bowling, even though it was a small ground, as he pummeled 12 fours and 12 sixes in an innings of 164 off 102 balls. He was ably supported by Orlando Baker, and the pair put on 125 runs for the first wicket. Timroy Allen chipped in with 67 not out, and at the end of 50 overs, the USA had amassed a mammoth total of 366 for 6. This would be a very challenging score for Nepal to overtake and they were all out for 272, and the USA won by 94 runs; Neil McGarrell took 3 for 42. Then it was on to Italy, who didn’t fare much better, as the USA rattled up 254 for 8. Sushil Nadkarni topscored with 73, and Timroy Allen got past 50 for the second time in as many games, to finish on 51 not out. Steve Massiah also made 51. Steady bowling from McGarrell, 4 for 44, and Elmore Hutchinson, 3 for 44, restricted Italy to 180 and the USA won by 74 runs. After a rest day on Tuesday, it was on to Oman on Wednesday, and after Oman batted first and scored 175, the USA found themselves struggling, as they lost wickets at regular intervals, but it would be up to Rashard Marshall, who played a classy knock to finish on 72 not out, to  see the USA home by 2 wickets. Having won their first three games, the USA was in the “driver’s seat”. Win one out of the next two games, and their ticket would be booked to the 2014 WCQ in New Zealand in 2014. What happened over the next three days would stun even the most ardent supporters. In the game against Uganda on Thursday, the USA bowled a tidy length to restrict Uganda to 175 runs. With an asking run rate of a mere 3.51 per over, no one in the USA camp would have been prepared for what was to come.  The USA found the going tough against the Uganda spinners, as they struggled all the way through the innings to finish with a disappointing 93 runs off 39.1 overs, and Uganda had won by 82 runs. Only 3 USA batsmen got into double figures; Steve Massiah topscored with 24, Japen Patel got 20 and Elmore Hutchinson, batting at number 10, saved further embarrassment by getting 17 not out. The USA loss by 82 runs. Even after this game was over, the USA had another chance to move ahead; defeat Bermuda on Saturday, and they would be on to New Zealand in 2014, but a disastrous start to the USA innings, losing the first two wickets with only 20 runs on the board, would mean a massive rebuilding effort by those who were coming next. Akeem Dodson, playing in his first match, and the veteran Orlando Baker set about to do just that, as the pair added 82 runs for the third wicket, and appeared to have put the USA back on track, but wickets fell regularly after that partnership, and the USA scrambled to 220 for 9 off their allotted 50 overs. Would this be enough? It certainly wasn’t, as Bermuda set about the task very methodically, and was able to surpass the USA’s score in 44.4 overs, while losing only 5 wickets.   The USA’s lethargic play in the final two games ensured that Nepal and Uganda would go on to the World Cup Qualifier in 2014, and the USA would remain in Division 3. The USA did beat Bermuda in a consolation game earlier today, playing for 3rd. place, but it would be too little too late to change any of the outcomes. The USA’s next senior tournament will be the T20 Qualifier in Dubai later this year. The biggest disappointment for the USA might have been the batting of Star Opening Batsman Steven Taylor.  Taylor started his first match by scoring 162. However, in the next four matches, he would get a total of 15 runs, to finish the tournament with 177 runs.  He did attempt to redeem himself in the 3rd. place game against Bermuda today, with a topscore of 97. Taylor still managed to finish at the top of the table with 177 runs, while Sushil Nadkarni finished second with 138 runs. The top bowler for the USA was Neil McGarrell who finished with 12 wickets, and Elmore Hutchinson took second place with 8.

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