Interim coach James Pamment has put down USA’s five-match losing streak to poor administrative handling from the fallout of a drinking incident on the side’s tour of the UAE last December. He also criticised the lack of proper structures put in place by the national board and said recent pay hikes for the players were only part of the overall development of professional cricketers.
His comments came on Wednesday, after USA were bowled out for 35 in just 12 overs – the joint-lowest total in ODIs as well as the shortest completed innings in the format.
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“I think it actually goes back to the previous tour when we had an incident that impacted our final performance in the UAE and that wasn’t dealt with properly, administratively or from the team point of view,” Pamment said in reference to an incident in which multiple players, including vice-captain Steven Taylor, showed up drunk to a team meeting on the eve of an ODI loss to Scotland in Dubai at the end of 2019.
“People like yourself then get the opportunity to put that in the media, which these players are not professional players so they don’t know how to accept and handle that.
“Some of the things are the truth and you can’t hide away from that but some of the things, the innuendo and the lies that are spoken about them, it impacts on them. As you’restarting to prepare to play a game of cricket, sometimes you don’t always have the strong connection that you require to bring your best tactical and technical performance and then that’s party to what I guess has happened here and we found that we haven’t had the connection strong enough.”
Though Pamment claimed that USA’s players were not professional enough, USA Cricket has gone through great lengths since July 2019 to emphasise how they had professionalised the players by bringing in high-level coaches including Kiran More, under whom Pamment initially served as an assistant before he took over in October. Part of that professionalisation was putting the majority of USA’s regular players on central contracts.
According to a USA Cricket press release dated August 17, up to 20 players were put on central contracts in which “the highest tier contracts are in excess of $90,000 per year.” That figure would make some of USA’s players by far the highest-paid Associate cricketers in the world, with most of the other players on teams in League Two earning less than half of that amount,if they are on a contract at all.
However, Pamment said that there was a lot more to making a player a professional than handing them good money. He claimed that proper structures have not been put in place by USA Cricket administrators in order to ensure continuity of preparation and training in between tours. Pamment was also initially only contracted through the end of 2019, but USA’s search for a permanent head coach has dragged on since September and he said he was only re-contracted 10 days before the Nepal tour to continue in an interim capacity.
“From series to series, they just go back to their home base and don’t do any work because the facilities are not there for them, the coaching is not there for them,” Pamment said. “So when they get together prior to the start of a series, it’s almost like you’re starting again.
“For this series, in particular, with myself only being engaged 10 days before the start of the series, you’ve got no chance to buildup the work that’s required to take on these conditions and two fine teams in these conditions. We’ve been exposed and we have to take the consequence of that, which today is embarrassment but overall is no points from four games.”
Pamment, who had previously coached Northern Districts in New Zealand before taking on his full-time role as fielding coach at Mumbai Indians in the IPL, also refused to criticise the pitches in Nepal for UAE’s batting meltdowns.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working at the Full [Member] level and wherever you go, you find different surfaces and different conditions,”Pamment said. “These conditions here over this last 10 days have been fine. I’m not going to criticise the conditions. They’re different. We had some wickets that turned a little bit down in Florida. In the UAE, the wickets were more conducive to pace bowling.
“These conditions here are different, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with them. It just means that you have to bring a different skillset and we saw the Omani guys yesterday play extremely well and get a really good score. We saw them chase down a good score against Nepal on the weekend.So, the conditions are fine.”