USA looking to upset big boys in T20 World Cup Debut

USA have never participated in the T20 World Cup or the ODI version, with their only major tournament appearance being the 2004 Champions Trophy.

USA looking to upset big boys in T20 World Cup Debut

The US cricket team during a practice session ahead of their T20 World Cup debut. (Photo: Getty Images)

By:
Vivek Mishra

The USA will make their debut in the T20 World Cup, having earned a spot as a co-host with the West Indies. They aim to show they can compete with top teams.

Cricket in North America has a unique history; the first international match was between the USA and Canada in 1844. However, cricket’s influence waned as baseball became more popular.

The USA has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) since 1965 and has competed in tournaments for non-Test nations. They have never participated in the T20 World Cup or the ODI version, with their only major tournament appearance being the 2004 Champions Trophy, where they lost to New Zealand and Australia in the group stage.

Grassroots participation has increased in recent years with local leagues thriving. The T20 format has been used to build a stronger base, with Minor League Cricket and Major League Cricket emerging recently.

These structures have yet to impact the national side significantly, but smart use of qualification criteria has made the team more competitive. Coached by Australian Stuart Law, the team enters the tournament after a 2-1 T20I series win over Bangladesh, boosting their confidence.

The USA won the first two games against Bangladesh before resting key players to give opportunities to back-ups. Captained by Monank Patel, the USA will face India, Pakistan, Ireland, and Canada in the group stage.

Former New Zealand allrounder Corey Anderson has brought World Cup experience and quality to the squad. Anderson moved to the USA in 2020 and switched in 2022 due to the ‘four-year rule.’

Vice-captain Aaron Jones, born in New York but raised in Barbados, says the team is determined to make a statement. “We want to show everybody in the world that the USA can actually be a cricketing country and obviously be role models for the kids coming up,” he told AFP.

Jones has experience playing cricket outside the USA and is impressed by the standard of associate nations. “Afghanistan is a really good team right now and they came through from associate. Ireland obviously came from associate. So the opportunity is there and we just need to really and truly take it and showcase our talent to the world,” he added.

Law has worked with a core group of players, including pace bowler Ali Khan, who grew up in Pakistan and has played in the Caribbean Premier League. Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh represented India in the Under-19 World Cup in 2012, and Miami-born Steven Taylor has extensive experience in Caribbean cricket.

Jones, encouraged by Taylor to join the USA team, rejects the idea that they are just participating. “We want to win games. We want to bring as much competition as any other team in the tournament,” he said.

The T20 format allows for surprises, and Jones believes his team can deliver. “We are a very good team. Obviously, we showed that against Bangladesh, one of the best teams in the world,” he said. “I wouldn’t call it an upset if we beat Pakistan or India. I will just say that we played better cricket on the day. It is a game of cricket. The bigger teams can lose as well.”