January 31, 2007

USA

USA elections throw up glaring gaps

Martin Williamson

The revelation that the USA Cricket Association had finally put forward a new constitution to its stakeholders was, on the face of it, a rare piece of good news in the murky world of domestic US cricket. But after a closer look, the news might not be as good as it seemed.

Within hours of the announcement there were signs of unrest. The most obvious issue was that the whole deal was presented as one that only needed rubber stamping rather than consideration. After months of silence and rumour, stakeholders were given three weeks to digest the proposals, circulate and discuss them, and vote. While that may be time enough, there was a feeling of indecent haste about the whole process.

And then there was the issue of the regions, and more specifically the clubs within those regions. A close examination shows that there is a considerable imbalance between the way the regions are divided. More worryingly, some regions appear to have grown at a phenomenal rate.

One regional president made his views clear. “There are a number of so called clubs that are nothing but bogus clubs,” he told Cricinfo. “I challenge this administration to conduct a through independent audit of all clubs in all regions to see if they really play cricket or if certain individuals chose to pay $30 per club time 8 per League (i.e. $240 per year) to ensure they have enough leagues and enough clubs to vote.”

In other words, are all the clubs recognised by the USACA genuine?

A quick examination of the numbers of affiliated clubs in each region throws up some remarkable success stories. In the Atlantic region, in 2004 there were 69 clubs – now there are 133. It’s the same story elsewhere. North East region has grown from 16 to 40 clubs; Central East from 51 to 127. This may represent a tremendous success story for the USACA in that it has expanded the game.

Cynics claim it is little more than an exercise in manipulation. Each of the regions will elect a representative to the USACA board, so gain control of the regions and you effectively run the USACA. The new clubs may well decide whether the current regime is allowed to carry on or not.

“You’re damned if you do, damned if you don't,” a senior official said. “If you oppose the constitution then you are hampering progress; if you are in favour of the constitution you are keeping the incumbent in power.”

The most recent elections were shrouded in controversy. It seems that these will be no different. The veneer of democracy will keep the ICC happy and will satisfy the various external companies rumoured to be about to climb into bed with the USACA. It will also ensure that the existing bosses remain in place.

Unless leopards can change their spots, that is likely to mean a continuation of a policy of running US cricket in virtual secrecy, with no information made available to stakeholders or the media.

Like elections in the old Soviet Union, they claim to be democratic and open when in reality they are quite the opposite. The candidates offer themselves for a re-election that is inevitable and as soon as the poll is counted, they wave, head back behind the curtain and carry on as before.

Perhaps we are wrong and this is a brave new world. We have asked senior USACA officials to comment, as we have repeatedly done over the last two years. Stay tuned to see if they reply. Stay tuned, that is, but don’t hold your breath.

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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 Muhammad Yousaf on (February 23, 2007, 1:34 GMT)

I played enough cricket in CEZ. Number of teams in Michigan doubled in one year. From where these teams came in one year? People are leaving Michigan due to down turn in automotive sector. Current VP of USA has started his own league. Now we have two leagues but how come both league has 19 plus teams when we had only 18 teams last year team? These folks are not doing justice to game, they are here to satisfy there own ego.

Posted by Nazir on (February 11, 2007, 18:43 GMT)

The problem with cricket in this country is USACA. The solution is simple, immediately nullify the USACA flatly and categorically.

Replace it with a new governing body. But, that takes work. All regional bodies need to meet immediately, online if possible. Set up a framework and appoint one of it member as national president for one year. Then another regional representative takes over next year, so that we have a rotating leadership in the mean time. This should last for five years.

During the interim it a more formal structure should be established for elections online by individual members. Cricketers would be in custody of the game they love.

If you need help, I volunteer myself. Cricket should not suffer under any egotistical power monger.

Posted by Firoz on (February 10, 2007, 5:47 GMT)

When the original "draft constitution" was presented, a detailed, point-by-point expert analysis (25 pages long) was prepared and sent to USACA. Along with it, a formal 13-point amemndment to correct the inconsistencies and contradictions in the document was also sent to USACA. Guess what. NOT A SINGLE ITEM FROM THE EXPERT REPORT, NOR EVEN ONE OF THE THIRTEEN AMENDMENTS, APPEARS IN THE CURRENTLY CIRCULATED VERSION OF THE USACA CONSTITUTION. The present document is still the inconsistent, contradictory mess that it originally was. The comments and criticisms have not even been acknowledged by the USACA Executive. In presenting this excuse for a constitution to US cricket, USACA is not only being simplistic; it is being hypocritical, self-aggrandizing and is lying through its teeth to US cricket. Yes, only in the USA could such a Goebbels-like "big lie" be paraded with a straight face. This is not democracy, by any stretch of the imagination. It is an exercise in naked power and that is the way it should be treated.

Posted by Texan on (February 6, 2007, 15:56 GMT)

Nauman: I read the constitution on my own and then i contacted our League president and got some more info from him. But he received it on last Wednesday or Thursday(1st Feb.) still it's very little time after the ratification ballot on Feb 21 st to March 1st when USACA wants to have all officers elected at regional levels. Nauman are you from Dallas or Austin or Colorado? What I like is to have is enough time for all the CW leagues to have a good strong representation at Regional and National level. And for that time is too short. Hope something positive comes out of all this. I have seen the growth of Cricket in our region from one team in Houston to three full fledged leagues in Texas(Austin, Dallas - Fortworth and Houston) and one in Colorado.

Posted by Nauman on (February 3, 2007, 20:38 GMT)

Texan: You have some valid concerns, the time frame is very tight. As for not being informed, I think you should inquire with your league president Mr. Channi Bians. Given the circumstances, the CW director has notified the leagues and has kept them informed as well. Being part of one of the CW leagues, we were given ample time to send our feedback, not sure if your league forwarded that info to your club or you. While we did send feedback, doesn't look like a lot was accepted. USACA IS DROWNING!

Posted by siva on (February 2, 2007, 22:17 GMT)

There is no National Cricket League here in the midwest........and there are no team other than cardinals and kcc knights....but they play in Cricket League of Iowa. National Cricket league is listed as a league in central east..which doesn't exisit.....!!!!

Posted by Texan on (February 2, 2007, 18:11 GMT)

It's very much disturbing and I am sure all the clubs are not even aware of what's going on. In our league, Houston Cricket league no one has heard anything from anybody including the Regional Director. They want all ratification ballots by 19th and will announce the result on 21st on passing of the Constitution. After that within 10 days they want all regional administration finalize with the Regional Board Representative. How it's going to happen no one knows. Some of the leagues will have elections coming up in next few weeks like Houston League. I wish they would have given us enough time to digest all these and convince members clubs to do the right things in a demeocratic way. Do not know what will happen tomorrow.

Posted by Faraz Kadri on (February 1, 2007, 0:05 GMT)

You are giving undue attention to USA Cricket Association. No matter what they (or you for that matter on your website) do cricket will never take of in the land of the free!

REPLY - The aim is not to make cricket the No.1 sport in the USA. It's just that every country has a right to have a democratic process and a national body running the game that represents them.

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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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