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February 17, 2006
Major League Cricket, the organisation which has been responsible for a number of initiatives inside US cricket at the same time the official board has been embroiled in disputes and allegations of mismanagement, has formally approached the ICC and asked to be allowed to take charge of the running of the game in the country.
In a letter to Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, and all the executive board members, Bernard Cameron, the chief executive of MLC, asked that the ICC considers "the expulsion of the United States of America Cricket Association as the governing body of cricket in America and the installation of MLC as the new governing body at its upcoming meetings."
Cameron referred to "a most steady decline in the management and administration of the game of cricket in the USA" and points out that MLC has been able to attract investors and has successfully run tournaments at the same time the USACA has been virtually moribund. He added that while MLC had repeatedly attempted to work with the USACA "we have made no headway whatsoever with the governing body who is of the morbid opinion that they do not need any outside assistance whereas the development of the game.
"I remember the Gladstone Dainty [the USACA chairman] debacle, involving education, strategic development and promotion of cricket throughout the United States ten years ago. It certainly was a painful and bitter memory written in the annals of US cricket. Notwithstanding, that evil seems to befall us again and again."
Cameron was particularly critical of the USACA's effort with schools and grass-root development. "I am certain that the USACA has no idea that there are 21 regions and 743 school districts in the state of New York, let alone create a development plan to introduce and administer the sport within and among the school districts of New York notwithstanding the other 49 states. MLC is prepared to take on this challenge. We have the intellectual resources that can create the necessary business processes and scaled economies that can create - as we call it - anchoring mechanism for the long-term sustainability and development of the game of cricket here in America."
MLC has already made considerable progress, running a successful inter-state competition and unveiling a national development programme in schools and colleges.
The news will be welcomed by many inside the USA who have battled to remove the Dainty-led regime. A challenge to the board last year was stifled by court action, but there are serious unanswered questions over the board's finances, elections and contracts with third parties which remain shrouded in mystery. It refuses to answer questions put to it and few know what is happening.
Officially, the ICC is likely to flat-bat the approach, much as it did in 2004 when a similar coup was attempted in Kenya. It maintains that it cannot interfere in what is a domestic issue and can only recognise the official board.
Privately, the news will be welcome as the ICC are extremely unhappy with the conduct of the USACA, and serious governance issues led to it suspending the USA last year and expelling it from the Intercontinental Cup. At the moment, the US receives no ICC grants, and despite the arrogant insistence by certain officials that the ICC needs it more than it needs the ICC, what is clear is that under present management, US cricket is on the road to nowhere.
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper