In-fighting rocks US board September 27, 2004

USACA washes dirty linen in public

As if the USA Cricket Association (USACA) did not already have enough troubles to deal with, its executive and some of its board members have become embroiled in a nasty brouhaha over which players should be allowed to play in the upcoming Under-19 nationals.

The trouble began when two cricket administrators, Laks Sampath from the Northwest and Clifford Hinds in New York, suggested that they be given more leeway in selecting players for the U-19 National tournament to be held in Los Angeles in October.

Although coming at the issue from different directions, New York and the West regions concurred on an essential point. They wanted to include players for the U-19 Nationals who did not meet the ICC's player-eligibility requirements as they stand now, but who would be expected to qualify in time for the ICC World Cup in 2007. This would give promising youngsters who, because of their age, had not been in the USA long enough to qualify as long-standing permanent residents, but who could be identified early for possible selection for Team USA in 2007.

If that seems a reasonable position, it certainly did not appear that way to Gladstone Dainty, the USACA's president. In an extraordinary letter, he accused both Hinds and Sampath for undermining the USACA and indeed, US cricket. Hinds was spared a personal censure, but was warned about the dangers of including "illegal aliens" in their teams--something that neither Hinds nor Sampath had suggested.

With Sampath, Dainty was far more brutal. He accused him of undermining the USACA, its board and the executive; singled him out as a troublemaker and traitor to US cricket interests, and warned him to behave.

Sampath replied in an open letter to the USACA president, and the entire sordid affair was all over the internet, once more exposing the inner workings of the USACA behind its bland public image.

Several key issues were highlighted by this dispute.

First, it is not clear that the USACA president has the right to discipline a regional director, let alone put him on notice on any point. Directors are elected by their region's member clubs, and answer to them; they appoint the USACA executive, not the other way round. At the very least, Dainty was overstepping his bounds, and he should have known better.

Second, Dainty justified his actions with an oblique reference to the organization that was sponsoring the U-19 Championship and might run into trouble with US homeland security if the USACA was to be too permissive in selecting its U-19 player participants. Just who is this sponsoring organization? Why has it not been named so far? Why was its identity not disclosed to board members who are supposed to approve all USACA contracts? Why would U-19 player selections prejudice the organization in its dealings with US homeland security? Invoking the spectre of 9/11 is a facile way to get around these essential questions, and Dainty and the USACA have a great deal to answer for.

Finally, it is high time for USACA's officers to cease and desist from personal attacks (private or public) as a way to deflect reasonable critiques of the way it does business. The positions taken by Hinds and Sampath over the U-19 national selections are reasonable ones, and could be argued on their merits. There is no need for the USACA Executive to try to silence debate by citing "concerns of national security". That has not worked too well in the US body politic, and should not used in US cricket.