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March 1, 2006
While last week's move by Bernard Cameron and Major League Cricket has, as expected, been politely rebuffed by the ICC, what is interesting is the ICC's revelation about the conduct of the USA Cricket Association.
It has been widely assumed that the USACA had kept the ICC in the loop as to developments since the uneasy truce in early November between the Gladstone Dainty board and the Council of League Presidents. Since then, the USACA has held a dismally-attended EGM and also at least two executive meetings. It has sought to convey the impression of normality, but it seems that might not be the case.
It appears that no one inside the USACA has thought it necessary to keep the ICC in the loop. With all funding and support for the USACA suspended pending a resolution of the dispute, it might have been safely assumed that would be the No. 1 priority. Furthermore, the USACA effectively threw away $10,000 that was available to help with Under-19 World Cup preparations because it was not able to produce accounts for the 2004 financial year on time.
Although the USACA has implied it had reached settlement with rival factions, that it had not informed cricket's governing body means that either such disputes have not been settled, or that the board is acting with a cavalier disregard for the ICC which can do nothing but seriously harm the profile of US cricket globally.
The ICC executive board will review the situation inside the USA when it meets in Dubai next month, when Dainty and the USACA will be asked to answer many of the charges levelled by Cameron as well as provide some credible explanations as to its own conduct since the expiry of the November deadline. Cricinfo's attempts to obtain an official response from senior USACA board members have all gone unanswered.
Cameron's letter has had some effect, however, as within days of it being sent, the USACA is understood to have sent, via its attorneys, an update as to the current situation and the long-overdue 2004 audited accounts - that, however, might be too late to guarantee the payment of the outstanding U-19 cash.
The USACA has adopted an approach of operating in virtual secrecy for some time, and it looks as if it had decided to deal with the ICC in the same way. If so, then it made a massive mistake. The ICC is highly professional, well organised, and holds the purse strings. Bluster and bull will not work.
Barring something remarkable, Cameron will still have to go through the usual channels if MLC is to assume control of US cricket, or even have an official role to play. However, the USACA is slowly but surely painting itself into a corner.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.