American ProCricket July 5, 2004

Colin Miller - the air-mile king

Wisden Cricinfo staff



Colin Miller: if it's Saturday it must be California ... © Getty Images
It may have critics, but American ProCricket is not afraid of experimentation. Sure, there were first-night glitches. In New York they forgot to install the stump cameras; in San Francisco there were actually quite a few problems - the pitch was not so much mown as gnawed into shape by a ravenous sheep, the boundary rope was too short and so only went about two-thirds of the way round, and (no fault of the organisers) there was dense smog which gave proceedings a surreal feel.

One of the more novel ideas was to allow players to rotate between teams during the competition. So on Friday, Colin "Funky" Miller, the former Australian allrounder with the chameleon hair, turned out for the outclassed New York Storm, jumped on a plane, and 24 hours later was on the other side of the continent representing the San Francisco Arrow Heads. Lest he became too settled, it was straight to the airport after the match and back to New York for Sunday's game. "I've got no idea who I'm playing for tomorrow," a slightly dazed Miller told The Guardian. "But it doesn't really matter; the point is I'm here and I am having an interesting experience."

If Miller's Marco Poloesque travails didn't give some indication as to the organisers approach to the competition - as well as raising the scenario that he might end up playing against himself at some stage - then the appearance of Larry Gomes in New York on Friday did.

Word got around that Gomes, who is now 50 and last played for West Indies so long ago that they were still good, was in New York, and so the organisers found him, threw him in a taxi, and he turned out for New York. "I just see it as an opportunity to bring the game to the American people," Gomes told The Guardian. "You've got to try things, otherwise how will you ever know if they work?" If Gomes sounded less than convinced, at least his outing gave him enough money to "buy a few groceries" - or pay for some physiotherapy.

The response from the public was not exactly overwhelming - the attendances at the first two matches barely made it into four figures despite the admission charge being waived in California - but the enthusiasm of the organisers cannot be faulted.

One of the main problems remains the venues. On Friday, the wicket was so poor that fast bowlers were banned, and so Merv Dillon resorted to bowling dobblers - the outcome left onlookers in little doubt that he has no future as a spinner. But the resulting hits out of the ground pleased the crowd.

Despite the effective opposition of the USA Cricket Association, and the stumbling blocks thrown down by the ICC, this venture was not stillborn. It is still not guaranteed survival, but it lives to fight another day.