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Auty Cup scheduled for September in Toronto

Steven Taylor and Nitish Kumar chat before the toss Peter Della Penna

USA will tour Canada for three 50-over matches next month for the 2017 Auty Cup, the culmination of Cricket Canada's Summer Cricket Festival. It is the second year in a row that the series will be contested through limited-overs fixtures, having scrapped the traditional multi-day contest that dates back to the first meeting between the two sides in 1844, making it the oldest rivalry in international cricket.

The matches will be played on September 12, 13 and 14 at the Iceland complex in the west Toronto suburb of Mississauga. Officials initially pursued holding the games on Labor Day holiday weekend, September 1-4, due to the convenience of USA's amateur players not requiring time off work. However, the majority of national level players on both sides have made a habit of freelancing in lucrative private T20 tournaments scattered around the country over the holiday weekend and would have been reluctant to forego a key learning opportunity in the mostly amateur North American structure.

The September 1-4 dates also conflicted with the ongoing Caribbean Premier League, with five USA and two Canada players currently tied up with various franchises. The CPL playoffs end on September 10, and holding the first match two days later gives both teams an opportunity to field their full-strength squads.

Canada's preparation for the Auty Cup includes three matches between the Canada High Performance squad and Bermuda on September 5, 7 and 8 at Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City. USA recently played a pair of exhibition T20s against St Kitts & Nevis Patriots and Jamaica Tallawahs in Florida, and the unavailability of nearly half their first-choice players in part due to their CPL commitments resulted in a pair of underwhelming batting performances.

The most recent encounter between USA and Canada took place in Uganda at WCL Division Three in May. Canada won the match by 96 runs behind half-centuries from teenage opener Bhavindu Adhihetty and Dhanuka Pathirana. USA eventually finished in fourth place to stay in Division Three while Canada gained promotion along with Oman into Division Two.

The Auty Cup has gone through a series of fits and starts over the years. After being played three years in a row from 2011-13 - under a format of a two-day match, a 50-over match and two T20s - with Canada winning on all three occasions; no Auty Cup was held in 2014 or 2015. The series resumed last October in Los Angeles as Canada retained the trophy after defeating USA 2-1 in a series of three one-dayers.