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A row which has been brewing behind the scenes over the USA Cricket Association's proposed new constitution has spilled over into the public domain with the publication of an open letter from two regional directors slamming the changes.
Arjunan Ethirveerasingam, a regional director of the South West, and Laks Sampath of the North West, have written to the USACA executive all all board members in which they express "dismay" at the draft constitution and recommend that clubs and stakeholder vote against it.
The USACA had already come under fire for the short time it had given regions to consult stakeholders, and Cricinfo has been made aware of deep dissatisfaction among senior representatives with the way the entire process has been handled.
The letter points out several flaws with the way the planned changes have been handled, pointing out that they breach the existing constitution. The main complaints stems from the way that board of directors are to be appointed, effectively unelected for a three-year term.
"The USACA is administered by an executive committee who are a part of the board who nominate a panel to select the next executives. The nominating panel (the current board of directors) select the individuals who, in their "expert opinion", are qualified to be executives and eliminate the rest. The panel then asks the board to do a back ground check on the final list and the names are forwarded to the regions to "select" (not "elect").
"It is incomprehensible in a democratic society such as ours that a panel can eliminate everyone except the current executives or the five members that they want on the executive body. "What chance does a serious challenger have to break into the very private circle appointed by the current executives? Agreed, the regional administration votes for the executives, the first step is to get on the ballot and that very avenue is insurmountable."
The existing board, once famously described by the ICC as "dysfunctional", has been lambasted in the last couple of years for being almost unaccountable and incommunicado. The most recent elections were also shrouded in controversy, and it seems that the new constitution, which must be in place by March 1 to meet a deadline imposed by the ICC, will only add to the disharmony.
Sampath and Ethirveerasingam seem to drive a coach and horses through many areas of the constitution and they make a compelling case for stakeholders to refuse to approve it. Even if it is eventually passed, what is clear is that it needs more time to be examined. If it is passed, the letter points out that it is drafted in such a way that it is unlikely ever to be amended.
"This constitution will not change into eternity. Yes mathematically it can, logistically with the country as large as United States it is just impossible. Never in the history of USACA have there been 400+ people present at a general meeting."
The conclusion is unequivocal. "The proposed constitution is not a constitution for the membership but is a constitution for the incumbents," they wrote. "There is no forum for the stakeholders to voice their concern or to even seek clarification.
"We urge you to withdraw this constitution and call a meeting of the general body to work on a constitution that is both acceptable to the membership and will also provide a strong foundation for the future of cricket in USA. In the meanwhile, we will request any member clubs wanting to vote send in their "No" ballots and to vote via email so that there will be proof of deliver of the ballot."
Cricinfo has been contacted by several other senior regional representatives endorsing these views and it is now possible that what initially looked to be a simple rubber-stamping process could present a major headache for the USACA incumbents.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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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.