USACA president slams Project USA October 15, 2004

ICC condemned for 'colonial' approach to US cricket

Deb K Das talks exclusively to Gladstone Dainty, the president of the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA)

Gladstone Dainty has made clear that he is far from impressed with the International Cricket Council (ICC), and furthermore, he is refusing to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) with it regarding Project USA, the ICC-sponsored initiative for the development of cricket in the USA.

Dainty said it was important for US cricketers, and the cricket world in general, to understand why he was taking this position. This was why he had sought me out on the sidelines of the US National Championship finals in Los Angeles.

Project USA was uppermost in his mind at the time. He said that the ICC was pressing the USACA to sign a Memorandum of Agreement that would validate the role that Project USA would play for the next ten years in the USA. And he did not like the terms that were being offered, let alone ICC's attitude, which was more of an ultimatum -- "take it or leave it" was the way it was described.

Dainty's objection, he made clear, was a fundamental one. He was opposed to the idea that funds raised by Project USA would be transferred to an "offshore" bank account, and would be administered by officials based outside the United States at their own discretion and judgment. He had no problems with an independent body being in charge of administering the funds. However, in Dainty's view, such a body should include individuals based in the USA, with background and experience with the circumstances that applied to US cricket.

Over the past few years, he said he had seen persons and organisations from inside and outside the USA operating within the US cricket scene under their own agendas, which were not always in the best interests of US cricket. And further, US cricket was simply not understood by the ICC -- this was exemplified, he continued, by its obdurate refusal to simplify ICC eligibility requirements or to provide sufficient funds as "seed money" for proper development for a vast country like the USA, although the complexities of the marketplace had been repeatedly communicated to the authorities.

There were other difficulties cited by Dainty. For instance, there could be possible problems with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in maintaining USACA's non-profit status. Then there was the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), whose tendentious and protracted post-9/11 procedures had led to ICC's eligibility requirements becoming a stranglehold on development. A comprehensive MOU would need to address these issues as part of any overall agreement between USACA and ICC. Yet none of these items had been included in any of the discussions that had taken place so far. USACA could hardly sign an agreement that did not cover these points.

These matters of detail boiled down to a single overriding principle, according to Dainty. US cricket was not just a marketplace for the ICC to sell itself and its programs, and dole out money as and when it wished -- this was a kind of "colonialism" which he wanted no part of. To him, Project USA would work only if it combined marketing and development in a single US-based entity, and this was something he was pushing for.

We parted on a note of mutual acknowledgement. I had never met Dainty before. He had been described by supporters and critics alike as a kind of godfather of US cricket, inaccessible to all except the few he chose to communicate with, and yet exercising absolute control over USACA affairs.

Nothing he said to me dispelled any of those impressions, but I became aware of something I had not known before -- his passion and total commitment to what he saw as US cricket, and his willingness to do whatever he could to sustain his vision.