Little evidence of change November 18, 2005

US cricket enters a season of discontent



Sir Viv Richards: 'I am delighted to be a part of this bold and courageous move by Major League Cricket. I am proud to assist in any capacity' © Getty Images
Having ended a cricket season with little to show in the way of achievement other than the spectacular success of its unbeaten youngsters in the Under-19 World Cup Qualifier in Canada, US cricket is languishing in the doldrums, marking time and waiting for something to happen.

There had been hope that the protracted battle between the USA Cricket Association (USACA) and the Council of League Presidents (CLP) would have been resolved by now, with the New York courts approving the agreement that had been negotiated by their respective lawyers in October. Nothing of the sort has happened yet, and no explanations have been offered for the delay.

The USACA and CLP web sites, which were to have been freed by the agreement, remain more or less frozen in place; there is no news on the U-19 finals which were to be held this coming weekend, and even the leaks which typically inform US cricketers of what might be happening behind closed doors are conspicuous by their absence. A website picture of the new-and-improved USACA Board, bringing the old guard and the dissenters together under the same umbrella, is the only sign that anything has changed in the USACA - interesting, perhaps, but certainly not cricket.

The only organization that seems to have made any progress in the past two months is Major League Cricket (MLC), whose plans have progressed steadily since its Interstate Tournament was postponed to November 23 because of the disruption in Broward County caused by Hurricane Wilma.

Both the English Professional Cricket Association (PCA) and the West Indies Cricketers Association (WICA) have announced their teams for the tournament, and their rosters are impressive mixes of veteran and current first-class cricketers from their respective countries. All the US teams which had originally registered for the tournament have re-confirmed their participation, although there have been minor problems with team rosters because of the change in dates.

Broward County, which had been embarrassed by its own decision to postpone the tournament, has now committed itself in a big way. It has officially taken charge of publicity and promotion, and is thinking about adding one or more ICC-approved first-class grounds to supplement the existing Brian Piccolo Park stadium.

Sir Vivian Richards has now committed himself to support the MLC tournament, and will join Sir Clive Lloyd and Desmond Haynes in Florida. A major US builder of baseball bowling machines has worked with MLC on creating a cricket version for the USA, and will now be co-sponsoring the tournament and providing free use of its prototypes for players and spectators. Barring another natural catastrophe -- which can never be ruled out in Florida in this uncertain storm season - the tournament would appear to be a go at this point.

Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA

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