The last two spots for the fourteen-team ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup Global Qualifier will be decided next week when the Americas regional qualifying final takes place in Bermuda. The host nation is joined by the United States, Canada and the Cayman Islands in the four-team tourney.

The sides will do battle in a double round-robin format from the 18th to the 25th August, with the top two teams at the end of the week’s action securing the coveted places in the UAE in October and November this year.

Action will take place at the two ICC accredited venues on the small mid-Atlantic Island – White Hill Field in Sandy’s Parish, and the impressive North Field at the National Sports Centre in Devonshire Parish, just outside the territory’s capital Hamilton.

The USA, with their recently secured ODI status, and Canada with a host of recent GT20 franchise experience in their locker, will no doubt start the tournament as the two favourites. However, familiarity with local conditions and some big-name squad inclusions mean that Bermuda cannot be ruled out either.

Either way, a fascinating event awaits, and by the 25th August, the full complement of teams for the UAE global qualifier later this year will be locked in.

Bermuda (T20I – currently unranked)

SQUAD: Dion Stovell (C), Terryn Fray (VC), Rodney Trott, Kamau Leverock, Onais Bascome, Sinclair Smith, Deunte Darrell, Allan Douglas, Justin Pitcher, Okera Bascome, Macai Simmons, Derrick Brangman, George O’Brien Jr, Delray Rawlins, Zeko Burgess, Kyle Hodsoll

Bermuda qualified for the Regional final by topping the Southern Sub-regional group in 2018 in Buenos Aires where they finished ahead of Argentina and the Cayman Islands.

The tournament hosts are captained by Somerset all-rounder Dion Stovell, happily recovered from being hospitalized by a short-pitched delivery from national team-mate Justin Pitcher in the domestic Somerset v St Georges Cup match classic earlier this month, and include three players – Rodney Trott, George O’Brien and Kyle Hodsoll – remaining from when Bermuda last played a full status T20 International back in 2008.  Bermuda have fallen a long way down Associate cricket’s ranks since those heady days which saw them qualify for the 2007 ICC World Cup, but there is cause for optimism brewing on the island under Head Coach Herbie Bascome.

Delray Rawlins, who plies his trade for Sussex in County cricket has been named in the Bermuda squad

The home team’s chances here are greatly bolstered by the surprise inclusion of Sussex professional Delray Rawlins in their ranks, following extensive negotiations between the Bermuda Cricket Board and Rawlins English county to secure his release. The 21-year-old all-rounder is a Sharks regular in T20s at Hove, and has been in fine form in this year’s Vitality Blast where his county are currently unbeaten and top the South group. An England Under-19 international, he has also established himself in the Sussex County Championship team this season, scoring a maiden First Class hundred against Lancashire at Old Trafford in July. Although he is used more for his batting by Sussex, Rawlins’ SLA bowling will be more than useful on Bermuda’s tracks.

The Bermuda side celebrate a wicket at last year’s WCL Division 4 in Malaysia (ICC Media Zone

Rawlins is joined in the squad by another rising all-round star in the English domestic game, Nottinghamshire’s Kamau Leverock, Twitter-star and nephew of 2007 cult hero Dwayne “Sluggo” Leverock. Now firmly established in the Trent Bridge second XI, Leverock has also played First Class games for the Cardiff MCCU side, and is an ICC Americas representative and former MCC Young Cricketer. He opened the batting for Bermuda in a recent warm-up game against Bahamas in a series which Bermuda won 4-0, and also took four wickets with his fast-medium pacers.

Aside from their overseas stars, captain Stovell, Rodney Trott and Macai Simmons all hit fifties in the recent high profile Cup Match fixture, so confidence will be high that the Gombey Warriors in their trademark pink kit can leverage home ground advantage and fan support and cause something of an upset by grabbing one of the two qualifying spots available.

Cayman Islands ((T20I – currently unranked)

SQUAD: Alessandro Morris (C), Troy Taylor (VC), Darren Cato, Chad Hauptfleisch, Omar Willis, Luke Harrington Myers, Paul Manning, Sacha DeAlwis, Zachary McLaughlin, Akhilesh Gavade, Alistair Ifill, Gregory Strydom, Conroy Wright, Kervin Ebanks.

The games in Bermuda will see the Cayman Islands make their full T20 International debut, being their first games since the ICC granted full status to all internationals between member associations on 1st January this year.

The Caymanians finished second to Bermuda on Net Run Rate in the Americas Southern sub-regional final in Argentina last year, but not without inflicting a 62-run victory over their more experienced counterparts in their first encounter at the tournament, a result which will give them hope that they are not just here in the regional final to make up the numbers.

The Cayman Islands celebrate an Argentinian wicket. (ICC Media Zone)

Cayman’s hero that day in February 2018 was Troy Taylor, who turned in a man-of the match performance with 34 runs off the bat and 3-17 with his seam bowling. He returns this time as vice-captain of a squad missing regular captain Ramon Sealy who has been ruled out after suffering torn knee ligaments. The team will be captained in Sealy’s absence by 36-year old Jamaican born spinner Alessandro Morris, who took the most wickets (8) in the Southern sub regional tournament, and will again be hugely important to his side’s chances here.

Canada (T20I Ranking 25th)

SQUAD: Navneet Dhaliwal (C), Abraash Khan, Cecil Pervez, Dilon Heyliger, Hamza Tariq, Harsh Thaker, Junaid Siddiqui, Nikhil Dutta, Nitish Kumar, Ravinderpal Singh, Rizwan Cheema, Rodrigo Thomas, Romesh Eranga, Saad bin Zafar

T20 cricket has been in high profile in Canada recently, with the franchise Global T20 tournament hosted in Brampton, Ontario, grabbing the headlines and including many of the world’s short format roaming stars. All fifteen of Canada’s national squad for this tournament featured on one of the six franchise rosters in the GT20, and the vast majority saw game time.

It is no doubt that recent tournament experience playing alongside and against some top stars of international cricket will give Canada’s players a real boost for the qualifier, although some off-field drama emanating from the tournament has had the opposite effect. In particular, former national captain and one-time Mumbai Indians IPL keeper-batsman Davy Jacobs has decided to eschew cricket altogether after seeing his GT20 fee capped at the last minute at US$7,500 instead of his reserve price of US$25,000.

Jacobs’ role as skipper will be taken over for the first time by batsman Navneet Dhaliwal. Although he had a relatively quiet GT20 with Edmonton Royals, averaging just 16.4 from five games, he has shown his quality in the 50-over game, including a magnificent century against the old enemy USA at the World Cricket League Two in Windhoek Namibia in April this year. Whether he can up his scoring rate for the shorter format will be key.

Nitish Kumar returns for Canada (ICC Media Zone)

Another batsman to keep an eye on will be opener Rodrigo Thomas, who scored 291 runs (average 41, scoring rate 149) in the GT20 for Toronto Nationals with some monster six-hitting, including hitting four maximums off one JP Duminy over against eventual tournament winners Winnipeg Hawks.

On the bowling side, the spin duo of Nikhil Dutta and Saad bin Zafar will be worth watching, having performed well in a high-scoring GT20. They will look to keep a lid on the scoring rate in Bermuda but both are crafty bowlers who pose a wicket-taking threat.

In addition to beating the US in WCL2, Canada also prevailed against them in a Super Over during the Americas Northern Regional T20 Qualifier last year, which both sides easily qualified from at the expense Belize and Panama -and will be hoping they can continue their recent form against their oldest and dearest rivals here.

United States of America (T20I Ranking 31st)

SQUAD: Saurabh Netravalkar (C), Timroy Allen, Cameron Gannon, Karima Gore, Aaron Jones, Ali Khan, Jaskaran Malhotra (wk), Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel, Nisarg Patel, Timil Patel, Jessy Singh, Steven Taylor, Hayden Walsh Jr.

The US made their full T20 International debut against the UAE in Dubai in March, losing the 2-match series 1-0 after rain curtailed the second match with the Americans in a strong position, and how they would love to be going back to Dubai again in October to finish the job. The United States are in many ways now the Americas regional associate “big fish” having achieved ODI status for the first time at the World Cricket League 2 event in Namibia earlier this year, and whether they make the next stage of the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup qualifying pathway will be an indicator of their continued upwards progress.

Captained by quick bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, there are a number of changes from the squad that visited the Emirates. Included is one of associate cricket’s rising stars in quick bowler Ali Khan, who has appeared for several T20 franchises around the world in recent times, taking seven wickets for eventual runners-up Vancouver Knights in this year’s Canada GT20.

A shade under 2-metres tall, Cameron Gannon is also named. An Australian-American quick bowler with 22 First Class appearances for Queensland in Australia’s Sheffield Shield under his belt, Gannon was in the Brisbane Heat Big Bash League side as recently as 2018, so is no stranger to top-level T20 action. His pace bowling in tandem with Ali Khan will be interesting for opposition batsmen to handle.

With the bat, the US will again look to the experienced Steven Taylor. Having previously played for several franchises in the Caribbean Premier League, the Floridian-born batsman has been in good form for the US of late. He averages 60.5 from his two T20Is against the UAE, also hitting 50-over scores of 70* and 95 on that tour, ahead of notching two 44’s and an 88 in the States’ WCL2 campaign in Namibia. He withdrew from participating in the GT20 this year to concentrate on US national cricket, having been handed a one-year central contract, further evidence of the US growing stature in the sport.

SCHEDULE:

All morning games start at 11:00 local time, ADT (EDT+1 hour, GMT -3 hours)

All afternoon games start at 15:00 local time, ADT (EDT+1 hour, GMT -3 hours)

Emerging Cricket understands that all games will be streamed live by ICC Americas, though is yet to be confirmed.

SUN 18/8          WHITE HILL FIELD

Morning:          Bermuda v United States of America
Afternoon:        Canada v Cayman Islands

MON 19/8        NATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE

Morning:          Bermuda v Canada
Afternoon:        United States of America v Cayman Islands

TUE 20/8          REST / RAIN RESERVE DAY

WED 21/8         WHITE HILL FIELD

Morning:          Bermuda v Cayman Islands
Afternoon:        United States of America v Canada

THU 22/8          NATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE

Morning:          Cayman Islands v Canada
Afternoon:        United States of America v Bermuda

FRI 23/8            REST / RAIN RESERVE DAY

SAT 24/8           WHITE HILL FIELD

Morning:          Cayman Islands v United States of America
Afternoon:        Canada v Bermuda

SUN 25/8          NATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE

Morning:          Canada v United States
Afternoon:       Cayman Islands v Bermuda

EC’s resident Bermuda correspondent Neil Joynson (@openingstatsman) will be providing regular updates from the event throughout the week.

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