USA news April 7, 2012

Varadarajan takes USACA to court over elections

Ram Varadarajan, presidential candidate for USA Cricket Association, is taking what he calls a "historic fight" to court on Thursday in a bid to overturn February's decision by the USACA board of directors to ban 32 of its 47 member leagues from voting in their general elections. Varadarajan, along with the California Cricket Academy (CCA), filed a lawsuit last month in a bid to reinstate the voting rights of those leagues which were barred from voting.

The case will be heard before U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California on April 12, just two days before the scheduled USACA elections. Varadarajan and CCA are seeking a preliminary injunction to force USACA to hold off elections until May 18 in order for banned leagues to be reinstated to ensure their participation. They are also asking the judge to force USACA to recognise regional election results from 2011 which were declared null and void by USACA president Gladstone Dainty last July.

"Nobody can predict how a judge will rule," Varadarajan told ESPNcricinfo when asked about his chances of gaining a judgment in his favour. "We believe that not only we have a solid case but also that we are on the side of righteousness and that we are morally correct."

He said that USACA board has committed a number of unconstitutional actions, the least of which is overstaying their designated three-year term by more than a year and that the recent actions taken by the board were the last straw to force him to pursue legal action.

"It's not that the US cricket population doesn't feel outraged," Varadarajan said. "They do feel outraged but the question is what is the remedy? So they write letters to editors, they write blogs, they send emails and things like that but the next step… you can shame a certain government into action but that clearly is not working here."

"Regional elections were held and the results were withheld," he said, making reference to last year's Atlantic Region elections. "People took it all lying down. I think now I'm actually showing a path forward on how this can be remedied, by going to a court and seeking redress which is the right way to do it. The one organisation that they cannot ignore is a judge in a court of law."

Varadarajan said that he has written to the ICC regarding the current state of affairs in US cricket and that he received a response which said they were monitoring the situation. Although USACA has been suspended twice before by the ICC due to poor governance, he said that it should not be the fallback solution for internal problems within the US cricket administration.

"My goal is not to have USACA suspended," Varadarajan said. "My whole goal is to make sure that we follow a fair democratic process."

On March 30, 2011, USACA announced that general elections would take place on October 15. However, Dainty initiated a highly controversial member leagues compliance review audit in September as a means for determining which leagues were "members in good standing" and were eligible to vote versus those who were not. Varadarajan said that he has no problem with having an audit, but the timing was inappropriate and it should not have been used as a means to delay the elections.

"There should be a process set up to clean house and do all those kinds of things but that has to be done as a regular administrative task and cannot be used as a mechanism, unless you are in some banana republic, to extend the government. That's the whole issue here, extending tenure by illegal means and making it sound as though it's very altruistic. It's clever, but it's not legal."

Varadarajan hopes that this case will be a turning point in the history of USACA and that a judgment in his favor will open the door to free and fair elections as well as pave the way to establish good governance.

"This is a historic fight. I think the importance here is that at last somebody is standing up to bring goodness and fair play, which is what cricket is all about, to the game of cricket in America."

Varadarajan was appointed by USACA last April to serve on the board of directors for Cricket Holdings America (CHA), the joint entity between USACA and New Zealand Cricket, to pursue the formation of a professional Twenty20 league in the USA. However, he resigned from his position on the CHA board last month before initiating legal action against USACA.

USACA general Manager Manaf Mohamed declined an opportunity to speak to ESPNcricinfo for this story. Dainty did not respond to attempts to reach him for comment.

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey