May 20, 2009

ICC

USA fast-tracked into global big time

Martin Williamson

The ICC has thrown the USA an unexpected lifeline by inviting them to take part in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in the UAE later this year.

After several years of infighting, including two periods where the USA Cricket Association was actually suspended by the ICC, the team currently languishes in the lower regions of world cricket.

However, the ICC's development committee decided to fast-track the team into the Qualifiers which features the six Associates with ODI status alongside hosts UAE. This will be greeted with anger by the many countries above the USA in the global pecking order, not least Namibia, the Associate on the periphery of joining the top six, who have been hit below the belt for the second time in as many days.

On Tuesday, they were excluded from the top flight of the Intercontinental Cup after the ICC decided to restructure the competition, partially to accommodate Zimbabwe, and now they find that they have been leapfrogged by the USA.

"For the USA the tournament represents a wonderful opportunity to move towards a brighter future and exploit its potential after a period on the fringes following previous suspensions and demotions because of administrative issues," explained Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive. "The ICC has strategic plans to target and strengthen the game in potential growth markets and the USA, with its player base, development potential and cricket broadcast interest, now backed with a new professional administration set-up, has obvious potential in all these areas."

Lorgat's comments suggested that the decision owed little to cricketing credentials and almost everything to commercial and marketing opportunities. How that will sit with other Associates remains to be seen. The last global event USA participated in was the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 in May 2008 when they lost to Jersey in the semi-finals.

"Twenty20 is the perfect vehicle for cricket to excite the USA and the carrot for its players and administrators is that a top-two finish will earn it a place in the main event which is to be held in its own region."

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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 Terry Jones on (June 4, 2009, 0:51 GMT)

I am glad that the T20 Qualifiers have expanded. However, I think that they should have selected by ranking, not giving a "leg up" to anyone (although USA shouldnt have been placed in Division 5, instead back into Division 3 after their re-entry). That said, I think it is silly that there are so many warm up matches (most have 2 or 3) with so few matches played.

It would make more sense for the World T20 to be expanded from 12 Teams to 20 Teams (4 groups of 5), allowing all 16 ODI teams to play and other 4 spots filled by T20 Qualifiers of WCL Divisions 2 & 3 teams.

The main focus of World T20 should be to promote cricket in Associate countries ... eventually World T20 should be expanded further to include all Full & Associate countries as well as the top Affiliated countries (by Region).

Posted by Vikram Maingi on (May 25, 2009, 5:35 GMT)

USA has really been lucky to get this opportunity, ahead of Namibia.

Posted by Wade Miller-Knight on (May 20, 2009, 16:52 GMT)

I'm all for the ICC making the most of marketing opportunities for cricket's world development in general and this move for the USA in particular if the USACA has now got its act together. But the unfairness to Namibia of not having a place in the next Intercontinental Cup after reaching the last final beggars belief. When UEFA tried to do something similar to Liverpool football club there was uproar and they had to back down.

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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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