Vello Interviews Linden Fraser, The American Perspective

Linden Fraser

Linden Fraser

Linden Fraser has been involved with American cricket since 2002. Fraser started his career as a youth player in 1983 before breaking into the Guyana First Class team in 1984. Following a tragic career-ending injury Fraser took to coaching in the United Kingdom. Fraser coached three years in Scotland then four years in Lancashire, England. Fraser played alongside the likes of Vasbert Drakes, Wendell Coppin, Ezra Moseley, Mark Taylor and Carl Hooper in the English leagues. Here in the USA, Fraser has been at the helm at a number of organizations as Head Coach; at New York Region, Tristate Youth Development, Tristate Lynx Women and presently at USA Global Cricket Academy.

VelloCricket: What has been the highlight of your coaching career?

Linden Fraser: Being the coach, grooming now national players through their formative years like, Akeem Dodson, Prashanth Nair and William Perkins (Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies). Also winning three consecutive national championships.

VelloCricket: How has United States of America Cricket Association’s (USACA) three suspensions affected American cricket?

Linden Fraser: In 2006 USA were at the World Cup Qualifiers and were unable to attend the 2009 Qualifiers due to suspension. Both the seniors and the youth were affected it was a real low point for the development of American cricket. Most significantly it was demotivating for the players to remain committed to playing.

VelloCricket: Has these suspensions contributed to USA’s gradually decline over the past 12 years?

Linden Fraser: Yes these suspensions have had a telling effect on American cricket.  We were having national tournaments for both the youths and the seniors, but once we were suspended that affected our funding and our ability to put on these tournaments. I must say kudos to USACA President Gladstone Dainty as he continued work tirelessly to assist  with underwriting the cost of these tournaments. When we were mandated to have CEO’s as part of the suspension resolution, moneys which should have gone to our infrastructure was now going to the CEOs. That too reduced our ability to maintain the national tournaments, which had been the backbone of our national teams.

VelloCricket: How have you received ICC Americas’ leadership of USA cricket?

Linden Fraser: Prior to this current ICC Americas leadership the ICC Americas were doing a great job. Now with this new leadership I am still puzzled as to what is the agenda of ICC Americas. They have implemented Cricket Combines and I do not believe that Combines does any justice for American cricket. The national tournaments would have been better served.  The ICC Americas leadership of American cricket has not gone to the people, the clubs, the leagues, the regions who are familiar with the players and the local landscape. I have worked with the ICC Americas leadership locally here in New York as well as at the West Indian youth tournament in 2014, but they have ignored my expertise as it relates to player evaluation at the Combines. ICC Americas has spent loads of money selecting the same players USACA would have selected. USACA did the same job that the ICC Americas is doing at a faction of the cost. ICC Americas approach maybe good for public relations and the perception of the game outside the local cricket community. I am certainly not impressed by the work that the ICC America’s leadership is doing as it seems shrouded in nepotism. A critical change that came with this latest ICC Americas regime is the removal of the ICC Americas Women and Under-15 tournaments. At this point I am predicting a USACA revival.

VelloCricket: Did you apply for any coaching or selector positions posted in the USA in the past year?

Linden Fraser: I did apply for the national senior men’s coach. ICC Americas Leadership does not know the landscape of American cricket. Basil Butcher Jr. is the best trainer in cricket in the country and he was not contacted to work with the national team. We have been working with the players from the grassroots and we are being bypassed. ICC has come with a different agenda. The selectors for the Women team were clueless about the players. The Women players were unknown to the coach as well. Coaching women and men are not one and the same. The 22 players selected for the MCC matches were not the best players available. The players at the matches were mis-managed due to the coach having little knowledge about the players, their skills, strengths and roles.  Triholder Marshall was available and she was listed as being unavailable. Candacy Atkins the best batswoman in the country, was notified only two weeks prior to the tournament. When ICC knew about the MCC tour since March 2016.

VelloCricket: Do you feel like local cricket community has been disenfranchised by ICC Americas Leadership of American cricket?

Linden Fraser: ICC Americas came in with the notion of fixing American cricket, while to date much is still the same and some things may have even been on a declining gradient.

VelloCricket: One would say that the CHALLC failed, Overseas League failed what makes this latest deal a genuine savior for USACA?

Linden Fraser: The idea of having our national players on contract augurs well for both the Men and Women national programs. Also like I mentioned earlier, we do not need CEO’s we need a Cricket Operations manager, someone like a Jeff Miller, someone who would be able to implement a structure for our cricket.

VelloCricket: Caribbean Premier League (CPL), West Indies (WICB) and India (BCCI) benefited from playing cricket in Florida this summer, can USACA tap in to this revenue stream?

Linden Fraser: The sanctioning fees paid for these matches around $200,000 were sub par. These fees should have been closer to $750,000 to a $1 million. I am hopeful that USACA can generate much needed revenue from its new deal with Global Sport Ventures. Also USACA needs to form a strong lasting relationship with the WICB. That way we can have a USA team at each of WICB’s tournaments annually.

VelloCricket: What is being done to improve the local infrastructure here in New York?

Linden Fraser: There has been conversations between an investor, the American Cricket League (New York) and Brooklyn politicians about placing turf pitches at parks across Brooklyn, namely Roy Sweeney Gateway Oval, Canarsie; 108th Street, 88th Street and 80th Street.

VelloCricket: Do you think that the selection team missed a player or two for the World Cricket League Division Four tournament?

Linden Fraser: Not taking anything away from the players who have been selected there are a few players that I thought should have had a better chance at addressing the selectors or otherwise been selected.  USA’s best player since 2010 is not in the squad. Mohammed Ghous has been the most economical bowler in USA cricket. Even though he may not be a wicket taking bowler like a four day match-winner, Ghous builds sustained pressure which allows the bowlers on the other end to make inroads. One may say that Ghous’ omission may well be politically motivated. Steve Massiah attended the New York leg of the American Cricket Combines and he is still the best List A/50 over batsman in the country. Massiah does not have to be the captain, but he should have been in the squad to add some much needed experience to the batting lineup.  Abhimanyu Rajp is an offspinner, who attended the Combines as well and is the biggest turner of the ball in the country. Also there is Francis Mendonca who has been impressing with his glove-work behind the stumps. We should want to send a message to Division Three. As much as I am confident that we will be able to advance from Division Four, it should be with a commanding performance and without the likes of those mentioned above I feel like we may just stroll over the line.

VelloCricket: Who would you pinpoint as a possible captain?

Linden Fraser: Steven Taylor would be a good candidate, especially with his experiences playing in the CPL. He is young and eager and it may well do good as he has the responsibility of the batting on his shoulders.

VelloCricket: The Under-17 Combines here in New York, were short of New York players, especially, when New York has the country’s number one High School cricket tournament in the Public School Athletic League (PSAL).  What would you say would have contributed to that?

Linden Fraser: It shows that the screening process for the Combines is flawed. There is a need for the Leadership especially for Combines and selection, to approach us the local coaches and the schools at the grassroots level so that we can present the best players for consideration for national selection.

VelloCricket: What do you see in the future for American Cricket?

Linden Fraser: The leaders need to step away from the personal issues and serve cricket.

Overall it seem as the ICC Americas Leadership has been trying to reinvent the wheel, wasting time and money. We need to go back to the national tournaments instead of the Combines, perhap we can have a Combine after the selectors has seen the players at the national tournaments. The last USACA CEO had a campaign of, “Empowering Regions” that should be the approach of any American Cricket Leadership. There has also been questions from other ICC Americas members like Bermuda and Suriname, questioning, “why is there such an emphasis on American development to the detriment of other members?” I am pleased with what I have seen so far from Manohar Shashank and his philosophy for the ICC.

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