USA Cricket announces membership and player selection combine for 2018

USA celebrates after regaining the Auty Cup for the first time in 26 years Peter Della Penna

USA Cricket, the ICC-approved governing body formed in late 2017 to take over cricket administration after USACA's expulsion from the ICC midway through the year, has announced the start of membership sign-up process ahead of its first general elections due in mid-2018.

"This is another significant step forward in making the new national governing body a reality," said Patricia Whittaker, former West Indies women's Test player and a member of the ICC's Sustainable Foundation advisory group that was a forerunner to USA Cricket's formation. "We are excited to give the cricketing community the opportunity to engage with USA Cricket through the membership program and are certain that the all inclusive and fair approach we are taking will assist the new governing body in achieving the most impact for all involved in cricket in the United States."

According to the USA Cricket website registration forms, there are two membership categories that interested parties can register under. The first is individual, in which players, coaches or fans can sign up. The second is organisational, which is open to clubs, leagues, academies and schools. Both sets of categories are free to join until July 2018, by when the first set of elections are expected to be held ahead of USA Cricket's first executive board being installed and represent the country at this year's ICC annual conference.

Both categories include voting rights in the inaugural USA Cricket general election. Under the USACA constitution that was approved in 2008 following their second ICC suspension, voting was limited to USACA member leagues, with the league president controlling his group's vote. This stipulation turned into a major source of contention over the years and played a factor in 32 out of 47 member leagues, many of which voiced opposition to USACA president Gladstone Dainty, being disenfranchised ahead of the 2012 USACA general election.

A subsequent landslide victory for Dainty among the 15 remaining voting leagues spurred most of the 32 disenfranchised leagues to break away and form the American Cricket Federation. When both governing bodies claimed to be the rightful group in charge of representing the majority of stakeholders in the country, the ICC finally intervened, leading to USACA's eventual suspension in 2015 and expulsion last year. The move to open up voting rights to as many members as possible is aimed at curbing any future repeat of the events of the 2012 election.

USA Cricket also announced that player selection combines, which were first started by the ICC Americas caretaker administration in Indianapolis in September 2015 and then on an eight-city regional basis in 2016, will return in 2018. Like 2016, they will be held across eight cities or states around the country with combines divided into women's, junior and senior men's trial applicants.

The only place not to have a repeat combine from 2016 is New Jersey, with the players there expected to be grouped into the trial process for the New York metro area in 2018. In New Jersey's place, a junior combine has been slated for North Carolina, which has a developed a reputation in recent years for youth cricket initiatives.

Previous ICC combines required players to apply themselves. This year's combines will have players nominated by their leagues - each league can put forward a maximum of four names not currently part of the national team squad - as well as players applying on an individual basis. The deadline for player applications for the first two combines - in North Carolina and San Francisco this March - is February 28 but the application for all other combines is March 9.

After the eight regional combine trials are complete, about 30-40 players are expected to be invited to a men's national team camp in Houston from June 21-24. From there, squads are expected to be picked for USA's assignments for the rest of 2018. These include the Auty Cup series against Canada, the start of 2020 World T20 qualifying and WCL Division Three. Information about the subsequent national team camp and selection process for women's and junior players are yet to be announced.

"I am hugely enthused by the previous editions of the combines we have conducted and believe this is an important process to ensure a fair, transparent and all-inclusive selection process for our national teams while we work towards the creation of regional performance structures across the country," ICC Americas USA project manager Eric Parthen said.

USA Cricket had previously announced that a national tournament would be scheduled sometime later in 2018. The national tournament is expected to take over for the combine process with USA's main talent identification pathway going forward.