Top-order batter Monank Patel has been named USA T20I captain, after incumbent Saurabh Netravalkar decided to step away from the role in order to focus on his bowling. The leadership change was announced on Tuesday as USA unveiled their squad for next month's Americas T20 World Cup qualifier, to be played between November 7 and 14 in Antigua. There were also recalls for four players, including Xavier Marshall and Ali Khan, who has made himself available after a two-year absence, as he pursued opportunities on the T20 franchise circuit.
"The appointment of Monank Patel as USA's new T20I captain comes after 50-over captain, Saurabh Netravalkar, requested the opportunity to focus fully on his bowling in the shortest format of the game," USA men's selection chairman Michael Voss said in a press statement. "He [Netravalkar] had done that with great success during the recent Minor League Cricket competition and the selection panel were fully supportive of his decision."
Netravalkar played for Silicon Valley Strikers, the champions, in the recently concluded MiLC T20 tournament - the side was captained by former India Under-19 World Cup-winning captain Unmukt Chand.
Monank has been one of USA's most consistent batters since making his national team debut in the summer of 2018. He scored a T20 century in just his second match, against Belize. That was four months before all international T20s were given T20I status. He has scored three 50-over centuries for USA, the last of them - an even 100 against Nepal last month - his only one in ODIs.
His appointment came less than two years after he had run afoul of the USA Cricket administration for his role in a drinking incident during the ODI tour of the UAE in December 2019, which resulted in Steven Taylor being stripped of the USA vice-captaincy. Aaron Jones will serve as vice-captain now after recovering from a hand injury that ruled him out of all but one of the six ODIs USA played in Oman in September.
Ali Khan's return to the USA set-up was foreshadowed on his social media accounts in recent weeks, as he replaced his profile pictures - which had previously showed him wearing his Trinbago Knight Riders kit - with images of his best moments playing for USA. He has not played for USA since the last day of WCL Division Two in Namibia in April 2019, where he finished as the tournament's leading wicket-taker to help USA secure ODI status. He had been included in USA's squad for the same regional T20 Qualifier event in Bermuda in August 2019, but suffered a sprained ankle at a training session on the eve of the first match and didn't take the field for USA as they suffered an embarrassing string of results, losing four matches to Canada and Bermuda to fall short of advancing to the T20 global qualifier in the UAE.
Marshall is one of the other four players recalled, giving him a chance to atone for his worst tour for USA at the corresponding event in Bermuda. The 35-year-old scored 55 runs in five innings against Bermuda, Canada and Cayman Islands before he was dropped for the last match of the tour. His last appearances for USA came in the February 2020 ODI tour of Nepal, where he scored 54 runs in four innings as USA went winless. His recall came after he finished in the top-ten scorers playing for Somerset (NJ) Cavaliers in the MiLC, finishing with 542 runs in 15 innings with a century and five fifties.
The other two recalled players were fast bowler Rusty Theron - who had withdrawn from USA's recent ODI tour of Oman due to personal commitments - and Ian Holland, who was similarly unavailable for the tour of Oman due to his English County cricket commitments at Hampshire. Both players have yet to make their T20I debuts for USA.
One other player brought into the squad, 29-year-old New York-based left-arm spinner Trinson Carmichael, has yet to make his USA debut. Carmichael took 21 wickets in 18 matches at an average of 12.62 and an economy of 4.91 for Empire State Titans in the MiLC. He was preferred over 19-year-old former USA junior left-arm spinner Vatsal Vaghela, who finished third in MiLC with 29 wickets in 17 matches at an average of 11.41 and an economy of 5.49 playing for Golden State Grizzlies.
To make room for the five incoming players, USA selectors dropped fast bowlers Kyle Phillip, Jessy Singh and Abhishek Paradkar; batters Sushant Modani, Dominique Rikhi and Sanjay Krishnamurthi; and left-arm spinner Nosthush Kenjige.
USA T20I squad: Monank Patel (capt), Aaron Jones (vice-capt), Trinson Carmichael, Karima Gore, Ian Holland, Elmore Hutchinson, Ali Khan, Jaskaran Malhotra, Xavier Marshall, Saurabh Netravalkar, Nisarg Patel, Gajanand Singh, Steven Taylor, Rusty Theron