Jake Perry in Stirling
In a week which has typified the extremes of Scottish summer weather, ‘frustration’ has been the buzzword around the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling. For players, coaches, officials and fans alike it has proved to be a difficult week as the effects of heavy rain have repeatedly foiled best-laid plans, and with one reserve day already used and the other likely to be required, too, the road to the Global Qualifier will have been a long one for the two teams that eventually progress.
For Team USA frustration has been particularly acute. Taking part in their first ICC event for several years Anand Tummula’s side is anxious to make its mark, and despite falling to defeat against Scotland in their opening match USA captain Sindhu Sriharsha is confident that her side has much more left to give.
“It’s definitely frustrating to have been working so hard back home and then having to wait on the bench once we got here so it was good to get a game,” she said. “Considering that we haven’t played international cricket for almost five years we were all eager and hungry to get out there and show the cricket fraternity what we can do.”
“But having said that [our performance against Scotland] was disappointing as I have seen the girls do so much better. We haven’t properly showed our skills yet but I’m confident that we are going to put up a better show when we next get out onto the field.”
“Every game is crucial for us and we want to go out there and win the next two. Be it Scotland or Netherlands, we believe that we are a good team and that we can compete with both of them.”
Bengaluru-born Sriharsha is one of the most experienced members of this new-look US team. The classy top-order batsman was appointed captain earlier this year, and as she looks toward the remainder of the week the twenty nine year-old is happy for her side to continue in their pre-tournament role of dark horses.
“Being the unknowns is a nice place to be,” she said. “Although to be honest with you it has worked both ways, too, as we haven’t seen much of Scotland or the Netherlands either.”
“But whatever is said beforehand about any of the teams doesn’t really matter. They have a bat, we have a bat, they have a ball and so do we, so ultimately any kind of analysis we do means nothing if we can’t go and execute our plans on the field.”
“On any given day whoever makes the lesser amount of mistakes wins the match. It is anybody’s game.”
American cricket has been much in the news recently after the expulsion of the USA Cricket Association (USACA) from the ICC in June ended a protracted period of significant turbulence. Under the stewardship of ICC Americas, however, the sport is rebuilding and confidence is growing.
“ICC Americas have taken over the running of cricket in the US right now,” said Sriharsha. “In women’s cricket we have had a few camps and we have been able to get a large number of girls to come and try out for them.”
“Cricket has a lot more traction in the country now that the ICC has taken over. They are trying to get schoolgirls involved as well which is going to be key for us to improve the grassroots level of US cricket.”
“It is still a work in progress but I know that ICC Americas will continue to do everything they can to grow cricket in the USA.”
Thursday’s game between USA and the Netherlands is likely to prove pivotal in determining the identity of the team to join Scotland in the final stages of the qualifying process toward the next Women’s World T20 in 2018. Whatever happens, though, this has been a tournament which has marked the beginning of a new era in American cricket. Whether they qualify or not, Sindhu Sriharsha’s side will always look back on a wet week in Stirling as the time when the USA Women’s team finally took its first steps back onto the international road.
Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.