November 19, 2007

USA

A subdued fanfare for new USA constitution

Martin Williamson

by Deb K Das

With less than the expected flourish of trumpets, a new constitution for the USA Cricket Association (USACA) was released by the board executive.

The first reactions to the document were lukewarm. At best, it was seen as an earnest effort to paper over some of the most obvious flaws in the old constitution, but in the process it inadvertently exposed some new problems. At worst, it failed to address some fundamental issues facing US cricket, and in so doing, it represented something of an anti-climax.

There are some issues thrown up by the new document, not the least being how US cricket should be governed so as to maintain its essentially democratic structure, which has been at the heart of the rows over the last decade. In this regard both the old and the new USACA constitutions totally fail to address the issue.

The lurch towards a furtive and centralized modus operandi, which has developed in USACA over the past three years, is not significantly addressed by the new constitution. Beyond steps to curb the most flagrant abuses of power, the new constitution offers little safeguards against usurpation of authority and the maintenance of conspiratorial secrecy.

Again by way of contrast, the CLP re-draft submitted to ICC in December 2006 included a series of 10 procedures to incorporate needed checks and balances into the re-draft. Steps were spelled out to maintain accountability at all levels of governance, and penalties were included to ensure that USACA executives and board fully complied with their stated responsibilities - an unheard-of thing in the present USACA.

The second concern is over finances and how US cricket will pay for itself in the short, medium and long run? Neither the old nor the new USACA constitution offer any new ideas on this point. Revenues from that bring in about $18,000pa and there will also be the additional income from the ICC once USACA is readmitted to the fold.

There is the rather shadowy deal entered into with Consensus, a marketing company, which could, if their promises come to fruition, earn USACA millions of dollars in fees for sanctioning ODIs involving overseas teams, mainly from Asia . But the deal is very much up in the air and the promises are no more than that. But the prospect of such riches does help explain why Dainty and his associates seem so keen to cling to office.

Thirdly is the question of how will USACA be made to operate at the levels of efficiency required by ICC to meet its responsibilities as an Associate Member, when it has failed to meet a single one of them in the last ten years?

This is the issue that has been most remarked upon by USACA's critics, from Ehsan Mani and Malcolm Speed to just about every stakeholder in US cricket outside the USACA inner circle. But the ICC requirements for Associate Membership are not even mentioned in the new USACA constitution, nor are any provisions made for meeting any of them.

Where things go from here is the big question. Most US cricket leagues whose clubs are members of USACA have their presidents as members of CLP. Any constitution, which fails to address the fundamental issues facing cricket, may well be rejected by them.

There are, however, differences of opinion within CLP. Some want to get any kind of constitution adopted, and vote in a new USACA leadership as soon as possible, leaving fundamental changes for later. Others argue that only in a brand-new constitution can a slew of fundamental changes be instituted from the start, and they want a draft constitution to contain most of the items that were proposed on their behalf to the ICC. They are unwilling to settle for less.

Only time will tell, of course, which of these viewpoints will be likely to prevail. But that time is not far off.

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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 Arjun Chaudhuri on (November 29, 2007, 7:13 GMT)

U.S. cricket hasn’t been much heard of ever since the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 in England, where they managed to cross a hundred against New Zealand, and claim an Aussie wicket.

U.S. cricket should take a leaf out of the book of their northern neighbours Canada, who have featured in three out of the nine ICC World Cups played thus far. As in the U.S., cricket in Canada is played mainly by expatriates - World Cup centurion John Davison is from Australia, West Indian Austin Codrington managed a five-wicket haul in Canada’s surprise victory over Bangladesh in the ICC World Cup 2003. Canada managed two Man-of-the-Matches in the same tournament. These are little achievements, but achievements, nonetheless, especially for an ICC Associate nation.

Weekend cricket among expatriate professionals is great in the U.S., but someone, possibly from the cricket crazy and cricket starved expatriates, should take the mantle of keeping U.S. returning to the big league. That may be a tough call for a non-cricket professional, but perhaps an inspired lot of such like-minded individuals can take a few strides for changing the face of U.S. cricket for better and once for all.

Posted by Adam Scholem on (November 26, 2007, 18:30 GMT)

Hammad has the right of it. For most of the cricketers in the States, the absence of a governing body doesn't mean a thing. It would be nice if some body was making an effort to popularize the game outside the expat community, but most of the administration of cricket takes place at a local level and at the level most of us play there's no need for larger conglomerations.

Posted by John Gowan on (November 21, 2007, 3:18 GMT)

Ok, where is this "NEW" constitution for all to read? Or is it the same piece of garbage that was floated weeks ago. I agree with Hammad Siddiqi. local cricket is well and a national governing body the likes of USACA with Dainty etal anywhere in the picture is a farce. Remember ICC's letter to Dainy? Least we forget, he and his puppets have not changed their stripes, in fact the stripes should be traded in for jumpsuit orange as in enemy combatants of cricket and therefore be sent to GITMO.

Posted by Hammad Siddiqi, Cincinnati Ohio on (November 20, 2007, 18:48 GMT)

All this political mumbo jumbo and hogwash about constitutions and the like. All we bloody well want to do is play some frickin' CRICKET!!

As a weekend cricketer in the U.S I really don't give a rat's ass who's running the show as long as cricket starved expats in the U.S get some match time.

We (the cricketers) have managed to organize leagues and play tournaments without any support or official backing. We payed out of pocket for ground fees, equipment, travelling costs, website development of our respective clubs and hundreds of other things. We do this for the purest reasons, for love of the game.

What would change if the USACA get it's house in order and receives official ICC recognition? would we see an officially sanctioned league? a first class set up? training academies? talent scouts? cricket grounds in major cities? and the coup de grace...a competitive cricket team of U.S nationals playing series against the big boys?

Forgive me, but I seriously doubt it. The so called powers that be in U.S Cricket are just trying to milk the cash cow that is modern cricket and their grubby attempts don't fool anyone. We need men (and women!) of goodwill and genuine love for cricket to take the helm at some point otherwise cricket in the U.S will always be the way it has; weekend games of 20 overs a side between doctors, lawyers, bankers, software engineers, gas station and motel owners and the guy who owns the corner shop.

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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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