USA December 15, 2006

USA faces ongoing constitutional crisis

Once again, time is running out for the USA Cricket Association to live up to its basic responsibilities

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.

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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