Despite the constant threat posed by the weather, the inaugural USACA U19 Selection Combine received the “thumbs up” from players, volunteers and parents who looked on.
Heavy rain throughout the week put the pitch out of action for the first day, but the tennis courts were put to use for the batting tests while bowling, throwing and fitness testing went ahead on the outfield as planned. The full contingent of US National selectors attended the USACA Combine to see the players selected from Regional trials put through their paces by ICC America’s High Performance Manager Andy Pick and John Abrahams, the Elite Player Development Manager from the England Cricket Board (ECB). John was flown in by USACA to add his experience in talent selection to the process and to maintain a high level of objectivity in athlete assessment.
The purpose of the USACA Under 19 Combine was commencing the first stage of an education process for all attendees. Sessions on nutrition, preparation for competition and performing under pressure were held over the three day intensive Combine. In addition, the Combine provided US National Selectors with a chance to select the USA U19 Team for the ICC Americas Division 1 Tournament in Toronto next month with the winner going to ICC U19 CWC next year. Equally important, the Combine allowed USACA to begin recording data on the best players for future comparisons and reference.
Friday saw the completion of all the testing and Saturday and Sunday was all about time in the middle. Players were provided numerous chances to show their talents with the emphasis being placed on their main discipline or both batting and bowling for all-rounder. The selectors were continually allowed to change batters and bowlers to make sure they saw as much as they could to help inform their selection of a final squad.
Mr. John Abrahams of the ECB said;
“There is no doubt that this format allows the most exposure for the players and gives the selectors the best chance to form opinions on those players. It is a format used in other full member countries and it’s good to see USA cricket embracing the process too. I was really impressed that USACA would make such an investment in its future by staging such a professional elite athlete development programme.”
USACA Chairman of Selectors Mr. Selwyn Caesar had this to say about the weekend;
“I thought the format of the USACA Combine was very good, especially the physical aspect and the bowling machine drills which were very beneficial. This was the first time this format has been used and despite the weather it was a good way of exposing the players to the selectors"
Atlantic Regions’ Ryan Persaud was equally positive about the USACA Combine and said;
“This was the most structured cricket trial I have attended in USA. I liked the fact that I can repeat the tests again to measure any progress, the fitness tests were very challenging and it definitely gave the players chance to display their talents”
North West regions’ Roshan Varadarajan commented;
“I’ve been around the junior system for a while but this was definitely the most organized event I’ve attended. It was good to see experts from outside involved such as ECB and the weekend allowed for both subjective and objective views from the selectors. It was clear to players what they had to do to be selected”.
All players will receive personal feedback from Mr. Pick about their efforts and what they can do to improve their game. The US Under 19 team will be announced in the next day.