Players in USA, Canada and Bermuda will have a rare opportunity of an open casting call this September in Indianapolis to see if they are good enough to take on West Indies stars in a combined ICC Americas regional team to play in the 2016 Nagico Super50 tournament. Top performing players for the Americas team in the West Indies domestic 50-over tournament may subsequently be offered tryouts or contracts to play in the 2016 Caribbean Premier League.
The announcement was delivered by the ICC during the Associate and Affiliate Members meeting on day one of the ICC Annual Conference in Barbados. The ICC head of global development Tim Anderson hopes it will result in finding some hidden gems to lift up cricket in the region.
“We came up with the idea of having a selection camp to pick the team but before that let’s have an open trial to find some talent within the wider region,” Anderson told ESPNcricinfo on Monday from Barbados. “Let’s have an open application process and see if we can find some rough diamonds and get them into the system. Particularly in the USA and Canada with large geographies and challenging environments regarding talent identification, we want to see whether there are some people out there that we haven’t identified or that haven’t been involved in a system that has been able to identify them yet, that might be good enough to play at this level.”
Rather than having players apply through their home cricket boards where there are often accusations of favouritism and internal politics at play regarding selection and promotion of players by the respective administrations, Anderson said the ICC Americas office will be overseeing the entire application and evaluation process. Players aged 16 to 30 who are eligible to play for an Associate or Affiliate member in the Americas region can submit bio information and links to their club or league stats as well as videos of match footage or training sessions to give evaluators a better sense of their skill sets.
The online application process will be open until July 17. Depending on the volume of applications and skilled candidates that apply, Anderson says that probably between 50 and 100 players will be invited to Indianapolis to take part in phase one of the trial at World Sports Park from September 18 to 21.
“We had a really good experience at the facility in Indianapolis a couple of months ago [at ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 and obviously wanting the facilities to continue to be used as well as the fact that Indianapolis as a sports city provides more than just a cricket ground,” Anderson said. “Dave Cameron was there as well so he was a part of the conversation from the start. Mayor Ballard was a part of the conversation. We talked to him about it and he liked the idea a lot too. So over the last month or so we’ve been developing the concept and here we are.
“Obviously there needs to be a cap on participation numbers given that effectively we only have a long weekend to establish the best of those that apply and get selected in that first phase. We feel that 100 people might be the maximum to sort through over that period of time in terms of fitness testing, skills testing, match awareness and game related testing as well.”
After phase one is complete, a select number of players will be invited back to Indianapolis for phase two of the combined trial from September 24 to 27 during which the newly-identified players will be joined by other regional players who have been tagged as star performers from the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament in May and the ICC World T20 Qualifier in July. From there, a final squad will be picked to play for an ICC Americas team at the West Indies domestic 50-over tournament early in 2016.
Although a coaching staff has not been announced, several high profile names from within the West Indies are understood to be in consideration. Another name that may be on the radar for his expertise is Mike Young. The American most recently was part of Australia’s coaching staff as a consultant during their World Cup triumph in March and has an extensive background in baseball. An American coaching background is something Anderson is keen on integrating into the whole evaluation process in partnership with the ICC and WICB’s established mechanisms.
“The process will be coordinated by ICC Americas but there will be some involvement from the WICB in support as well,” Anderson said. “We are also looking at some initial conversations with some of the big sports franchises in Indianapolis and the interlinking skills with baseball are obvious. So we might try to get some baseball coaches as part of this. It’s a bit of an open process for us to try to combine the best of the region in terms of players, coaching staff, support and also get the best of American sports analysis and assessment involved in the system as well.”