December 15, 2006

USA

USA faces ongoing constitutional crisis

Martin Williamson

Once again, time is running out for the USA Cricket Association to live up to its basic responsibilities. And this time, there are not likely to be any further reprieves.

The trouble started when the USACA asked for yet more time to write and approve its constitution. The current deadline was November 20, which itself had been a postponement from the original date of July 2006. This time, said the ICC, the deadline would be March 2007, but that would be it—no further extensions would be granted.

In fact, USACA’s Constitution Review Committee (CRC) had already produced a draft for the USACA. Its existence, however, had been a well-guarded secret. No one outside the USACA executive and board had any idea when it had been prepared, let alone what its contents were.

Then came the bombshell. An alert board member noticed that a draft USACA constitution had indeed been posted on the web site, but it was completely different from the CRC version. Moreover, this “new and improved” draft was a complete mess; it was riddled with errors and inconsistencies, contradicted itself on many key points, and used arbitrary formulas for counting member votes that made no particular sense.

The biggest problem with both the CRC and the new version of the constitution was their abandonment of any democratic principles in the operations of the USACA. Up to this point, the USACA has functioned as a national association of cricket clubs, which elected their representatives to a board of directors, which, in their turn elected a president and executive. The CRC version stayed within those parameters, although it tightened things up in a few decidedly undemocratic ways. The new version simply made cricket clubs and their leagues irrelevant; regional boards would consist of league representatives and any number of appointees, all aspects of cricket would be “controlled” by a central organization, and there would be a paid chief operating officer who would answer directly to the president. As one cynic put it, Hitler could not have come up with a more authoritarian constitution … assuming, of course, that he would bother to write one.

All this has led to a flurry of activity in US cricket circles, which is one good thing that may come out of all this skullduggery. Within the USACA, Laks Sampath of the Northwest Region and Shelton Glasgow of Mid Atlantic teamed up with Aron, a lawyer and one of the writers of the CRC version, to see if they could rewrite the new version to a more satisfactory format.

Meanwhile the Council of League Presidents, which has been in hibernation for a year, is cranking up its web site and has also produced a formal list of 12 amendments to the “new and improved” constitution, which it has sent to the USACA group as its contribution to constitutional reform. There has, of course, been no word from the USACA executive on any of these developments … and none are expected in the foreseeable future.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by JR on (January 8, 2007, 22:29 GMT)

I would like Cricinfo to make note that as of tomorrow, January 9, 2007, there are only 81 days remaining until March 31, 2007. This is the deadline set by the ICC for USACA to have a New Constitution in place and begin a new election cycle. Still no word whatsoever from USACA on anything, Constitution, Marketing anything at all. Will the ICC abandon the the dedicated players and local administrators in the United States who are all unpaid volunteers unlike their counterparts in the other parts of the world. The countdown has begun.

Posted by GRM on (December 31, 2006, 3:05 GMT)

Why is the principle of clubs being the members of the association flawed? It is the MOST democratic option available. This was initially proposed by the USCF (in the mid to late 90's constitution) because of a history of corruption within the USACA. The old constitution made it easy for one person or group to influence and control the Board since a) the Leagues were members and b) League presidents appointed a Regional vice-president to the Board. The old executive routinely bribed or intimidated the few voting members to do as they wanted. Having the 700+ clubs be members of the body effectively put an end to that wonderful tradition. Yes, it does have flaws of its own, but it was better than the alternative. In any event, it looks like we're heading back in that direction so why should anyone take the USACA seriously anymore - if anyone ever did for the last 5 or 6 years anyway. BTW, the heftiest blame for all of this does not fall on Dainty or his cronies, but on Richardson, Mani, Dalmiya and others at the ICC (at the time) who had the opportunity to replace the USACA with a competent organisation (the USCF) and chose not to. We Americans are left to suffer for it.

Posted by Anwer Shahabuddin on (December 18, 2006, 18:20 GMT)

The CRC version was unnecessarily complex and was founded the flawed principle of the clubs being the members of the USACA. It also establishedseveral milestones without ever describing the process for their attainments-perhaps quite intentionally. As regards the latest, it seems like a drunkards walk with the pen. It would veru eager to learn a more about it's origins and possibly its purpose.

Posted by Rob Bounce on (December 18, 2006, 15:07 GMT)

Sounds like the same non committal approach the ICC and the ACC especially are taking with regards to what is happening in Thailand. In this case, it is the ACC that need to step in but suppose that is up to one person at the moment, the CEO!!!

Good luck America, seems as though things have not changed since the mid 90's back there??

Posted by JR on (December 18, 2006, 13:19 GMT)

If history of ICC inaction is any indication of what is to come, then when March rolls around, not much will be forced on USACA. This is what Dainty's Gang is counting on, history to repeat itself. The ICC's stated policy is not to become involved in the internal operations of a governing body. But what if there is no governing body? USACA governs nothing and does nothing. It is time for USACA and Dainty's Gang to go. Will the ICC have to balls to remove USACA and Dainty. Speed needs to write to Dainty again, this time openly for all the world to see instead of a 4th party leaked letter.

Posted by Denoke on (December 18, 2006, 0:45 GMT)

What Mr.Das described is the structure of pretty much all major cricket boards around the world so what is he crying about?

Posted by timmyj51 on (December 15, 2006, 20:05 GMT)

"the deadline would be March, 2007, but that would be it..." And if there's no constitution by March? What then?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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