Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Rahul Jariwala: The child prodigy USA doesn't have the luxury to squander. The deserving inclusion of someone like Jariwala, will give them the reason to believe again.
The deserving inclusion of someone like Jariwala, will give them the reason to believe again.
On July 9 earlier this year, 17-year-old Rahul Jariwala frantically refreshed his inbox in hope of getting a particular email. He tried his junk folder. No luck. Out of desperation, he logged into his father's email. No luck. He repeatedly checked his father's junk folder. No luck. The email never arrived. What Jariwala was on the lookout for was an email sent out by USA Cricket to 14 hopefuls who had made it to the USA U-19 squad.
Within an hour Jariwala realized he wasn't selected for the U-19 WC Qualifiers, USA wicketkeeper-bat in the previous edition at 15. He sprinted out of his house in Sunnyvale. He ran 3 miles at a stretch to see his best friend and let his heart out on what he terms as the toughest day in his life.
Jariwala had not made it because he didn't exactly set the U-19 National Championships on fire with 58 runs in 3 completed innings that concluded in April in Houston. But if selection was only a game of numbers, you'd have robots doubling up as cricket selectors. What the selectors' eye failed to notice was the brute power in his strokes that belied a 19-year-old, let alone a 16-year-old. Jariwala hit the ball hardest and furthest than anyone else at the Championships. If they had followed his cricket back in California they'd know of his fearlessness and aplomb with which he bats and destroying attacks in senior cricket.
Fast forward seven months from the time he endured the lean patch at the U-19 Nationals, Jariwala returned to Houston and blasted two centuries in 4 games to bag the best batsman of the tournament award at Men's Nationals. Between that Jariwala also played a pivotal role to help clinch the Silicon Valley Strikers the inaugural edition of Minor League Cricket.
Jariwala's inclusion is a no-brainer against the touring Ireland in both white-ball squads in December. Behind Jariwala's cherubic smile is a resolute individual who has met rejection and failure in the eye and turned things around. Immediately after his painful USA U19 snub he had scores of 112 off 60, 105 off 109 and 102* off 53 in NCCA Division 1 when the rest of the 21 players failed to even score a half-century in all 3 games.
After his splendid hundred against South Zone at the National Championships, Steven Taylor walked up to Jariwala and claimed he was the only player he was ‘afraid' to bowl to. Much like Taylor whom Jariwala looks up to for his batting, there is a sense of impish joy watching Jariwala bat. His exuberance with the willow in hand is infectious. “There is something about him that others do not possess at his age. He is gifted. He gets into positions early. Has a terrific eye. Also has a natural downswing. All these things combined makes him a ferocious and a natural hitter” said USA head coach J Arun Kumar about Jariwala.
Undeniably the USA squad will undergo a major metamorphosis by 2024 with the likes of Unmukt Chand, Corey Anderson and Sami Aslam among many other seasoned professionals fulfilling their residency requirements. Sources close to many young USA hopefuls believe that there is a growing discontentment and a general belief that their best bet to wear the USA colors and clinging onto them is before the professionals arrive in 2024. The average age of the squad that last played for USA was over 31 with only one player below the age of 27 which clearly shows the selectors' misplaced reluctance in not breeding the youth.
The investments into cricket at the grassroots and infrastructural level only hold much water if the youth they spruce up are given the confidence and the stage to have a go at the highest level. The deserving inclusion of someone like Jariwala, will give them the reason to believe again. A reason to keep grinding to wear the USA colors. If nurtured well, Jariwala provides a complete package to be a poster boy for USA Cricket. Someone who could sell the dream of donning USA colors to the next generation of youth cricketers.
“I've had that dream ever since I held the bat for the first time. I have always played and learnt my cricket here. I think I am ready to take my game to the next level. If the selectors want someone who is going to give everything on the field, because they know they're representing their country. That's what I will bring to the table aside from my game” said a confident Jariwala to Cricbuzz.
USA Cricket have identified the Men's National Championship and Minor League Cricket as pathways to stake a claim in the USA side. Apart from satisfactorily walking that path, the young Jariwala has blazed a trail of his own to wear the red and blue.