USA Cricket and its commercial partners American Cricket Enterprise (ACE) are presently on an international recruitment drive seeking new players for its recently launched Minor and Major Cricket League.
Having attained One-Day International (ODI) status by placing fourth at the World Cricket League 2019 Division Two Tournament, USA Cricket is now on a global scouting campaign to gather resources towards increasing the sport’s popularity there.
On Monday, the Knight Riders Group, majority owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, agreed to partner with ACE for a major long-term investment in US cricket.
A joint media release by Major League Cricket and Knight Riders said this long-term partnership will include financial investment and significant expertise to help ACE develop and launch Major League Cricket in the USA.
According to a Cricinfo report on Thursday, “Pakistan Test opener (Sami) Aslam has been the most recent target of such efforts while multiple sources have indicated that New Zealand all-rounder (Corey) Anderson is another, potentially as a marquee player for the Major League T20 franchise based in Dallas.”
The WI is the closest international cricketing territory to the US. The chances of some of the region’s up-and-coming talents being scouted by the USA in the near future is indeed a possibility.
Also potentially up-for-grabs for aspiring cricketers is “a three-year residency path to switch allegiances and represent USA internationally”.
Would residency and a possibility to fly the red, white and blue be deemed equivalent or superior than representing the men in maroon? Are the WI, and other international territories, now at risk of losing potential stars owing to attractive incentives by USA Cricket?
Cricket West Indies (CWI) president Ricky Skerritt does not believe USA’s recent developments poses any risk towards the region’s budding cricketing prospects.
“I don’t see this as a threat at all. I see it as a very positive development. With more and better quality cricket taking place in the USA market, next door to us, can only help provide job and commercial opportunities for cricketers, supporting acts and professionals involved in the cricket industry,” he said on Friday.
Speaking in reference to Barbadian-born English pacer Jofra Archer, who moved to England in 2015 and began playing for the Three Lions in 2018, Skerritt said the possibility of losing cricketing hopefuls is uncontrollable.
However, he thinks mitigating against that risk by continuing to do better at developing young cricketers, male and female, would inspire youngsters to remain loyal to regional territory.
Skerritt added, “We have to understand that a lot of Caribbean people migrate and a lot of them have family abroad. It’s very easy for young people to find their way into North America. If they can play cricket and get into a cricket system, so much the better.
“We just have to deal with what we have. We can’t control that. What we can control is our ability to develop our cricket here in the Caribbean and generate a larger pool of players that we can pull from.”
The CWI president welcomes change. According to him, because the WI served as the nearest full member (of the International Cricket Council) to the USA and Canada – associated members – they was expected to play a big brother role to the two North American members.
But with USA Cricket implementing a new organisational structure, over the years, WI are no longer responsible in any way for cricket development within the two nations.
Pakistan-born American pacer Ali Khan is a product of USA Cricket. He has since made a name for himself on the T20 circuit by playing integral roles in leading the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) to two Caribbean Premier League (CPL) victories in 2018 and 2020.
His CPL achievements also earned him a place on the Indian Premier League’s Kolkota Knight Riders squad this year.
Additionally, in 2019, leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr, then representing USA Cricket, got his chance to shine, leading Barbados Tridents to the 2019 CPL title and winning the Player of the Tournament award.
He went on to earn a spot on the WI T20 and ODI teams and became the ninth player to represent two nations in T20 cricket, having previously played for USA.
Skerritt, however, indicated that because of the good relations that have developed between the three territories over the years, WI continues to maintain its presence and still assist where needed.
“We usually bring a Canada and US team into our domestic cricket in the past and we will continue to do that where we can afford to or where the opportunities lie. Covid19 kind of changes that.
“In the end, changes or not, players opting to switch allegiances or not, what’s good for cricket in USA and Canada, is good for WI. More competition is healthy. It might provide a few positive challenges but we just got to do better at what we have control over,” he concluded.