December 4, 2010

USA

Big ideas, little results

Martin Williamson

The USA Cricket Association's recently ousted chief executive Don Lockerbie set his sights too high and lost sight of the most important objectives.

If you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk too, and there was nothing that Lockerbie loved more than talking about bringing big sponsors and big money to US cricket. He would name-drop from his Rolodex of contacts at will, as if all he had to do was snap his fingers to get his choice of sponsors lining up outside his office door. Lockerbie was like Jimmy Stewart from It's A Wonderful Life, gazing into the eyes of USA cricket players, fans and administrators, wooing them by telling them that if they wanted the moon, "just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down".

Lockerbie certainly was reaching for the moon when he declared that a US$10 million annual budget was the minimum amount he needed to make the United States competitive in world cricket. That's a big step up for an organisation whose annual budget has typically ranged from $200,000-$400,000 in ICC grants, not to mention the fact that USACA never demonstrated sound fiscal management with those meagre resources in the past. Imagine Manny Pacquiao trying to go from featherweight to heavyweight in the span of two fights and picture what the result would be.

Instead of trying to build by attracting stepping stone, incremental sponsorships like Japan, Canada, or Ireland had successfully done, it appeared that Lockerbie's strategy was all or nothing. It wasn't worth his time to negotiate a three-year $650,000 deal like Cricket Canada had done with Scotiabank in 2008, or the three-year deal they signed in November with Reebok. RSA Insurance's sponsorship of Ireland, including a €100,000 boost before the World Twenty20 in April, was chump change. Such hubris contributed to Lockerbie's downfall. He didn't just want millions. He wanted tens of millions, and wound up getting nothing.

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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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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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