A local team has accepted an invitation to play three limited-overs cricket matches in Arizona early next month.
Toronto Cricket Club (TCC), which is affiliated to the Toronto & District Cricket Association, will play 40-over matches against an American Midwest Conference side, starting on March 7.
The American Cricket Federation (ACF), a rival body to the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA), organized the series to be played at Nichols Park Basin turf wicket facility in suburban Phoenix.
“We received the invite about a month ago,” said TCC vice-chair Howard Petrook. “We have had a relationship with some of guys associated with the ACF for nearly 20 years. This will be a good experience for some of our young players.”
The squad of 13 players will leave on March 6 and return on March 10.
“We will finalize the touring party in the next few days,” Petrook, a former Cricket Canada first vice-president, said. “Indoor practices are taking place now and we are in the process of ascertaining who can get time off from their jobs and schools to be available for the tour.”
Petrook said long-time member and former Canadian captain Ashish Bagai, who recently retired from international cricket, has not indicated whether he will continue to represent the club.
“He is yet to make that decision,” said Petrook. “He has a new job and he will want to see how much travelling he will be doing and how much of his time he will have to dedicate to work and his family before he makes that call.”
The Midwest Conference won the ACF’s second Twenty/20 national championship in Florida last October.
Launched in 1965 with six Chicago teams, the conference has expanded to nearly 30 clubs based in Peoria, Illinois; West Lafayette, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri and Milwaukee in Wisconsin.
ACF chief executive Jamie Harrison is delighted that TCC accepted the offer.
“It is my hope that this elevated level of competition along with the first introduction of national structure and context to the American cricket season will ultimately result in better cricket throughout the country,” he said. “I also expect that this opportunity to compete at higher levels, given to all ACF member leagues, will spur local and national rivalries and create a new level of competitiveness that USA cricket needs to progress.”
Established three years ago, the ACF recently set up an honorary board to provide expertise to its board of directors.
It includes Australians Ian Chappell, Damien Martyn, Nathan Bracken and Stuart MacGill; Irish-born Leicestershire wicketkeeper/batsman Niall O’Brien and former West Indies players Michael Holding, Alvin Kallicharran and Clive Lloyd.
“As someone who has always taken a keen interest in the success of cricket in the United States, it gives me great pleasure to see the positive developments coming from the American Cricket Federation,” said the 69-year-old Lloyd, a former West Indies captain and International Cricket Council cricket committee chair. “The AFC’s leadership and its member leagues point the way to a brighter future, and I am happy to give them my full support.”