We're all watching you
The ICC's reply to Bernard Cameron's letter requesting an official reply on why USA Cricket Association has again been recognised as the official body for US cricket was provided by Matthew Kennedy.
Kennedy, the ICC's Development Manager, said the approval was made on a strictly legalistic interpretation of the matter. According to him: "The USACA is the national representative body of the cricket clubs and associations of the USA, is one of 96 recognised members of the ICC, and the legal dispute as to who was in governing control of the USACA which is what led to the previous action of the ICC executive board in terms of (non)recognition of either of the disputing parties - is over, [so] there is therefore no logical or legal reason as to why the ICC should not resume full service relations with its member".
Kennedy's statement could be disputed by many US cricketers, including Cameron's Major League Cricket. The arguments between "disputing parties" within the USACA were seen by most as a tempest in a teapot, of little concern to any one but the disputants themselves except to the degree that it brought USACA's activities for the past year to a virtual standstill. The real issue is the "dysfunctionality" of the USACA as openly proclaimed by Messrs Mani and Speed of ICC, and their denunciation of the USACA's operations and management practices, not the USACA's internecine issues which are recognisably trivial. Cameron's request was founded on those premises, and Kennedy's reply manages to avoid that point altogether.
However, some reassurance is provided by the ICC's stipulations on the re-recognition of USACA. Kennedy makes it clear that there is no free ride here: USACA has to meet specific requirements for it to retain its membership in ICC. "The 2006-07 Associates' annual grant - due in April 2006 - [is to be] released in quarterly installments so that the situation can be closely monitored and the ICC's position reviewed at any time".
Then, the ICC demands that " the interim USACA board agree on a third-party to oversee the next election of the USACA board of directors and that the ruling of this third-party on any related matter be binding". It also states that "elections for the USACA board of directors be held under an agreed constitution by no later than November 30, 2006" and that this must be "under an agreed constitution" - meaning that the current one must be revised and approved by the ICC since so many elements of the current constitution are disputed, equivocal and contradictory.
The ICC goes on to say that the USACA must "appoint or re-confirm all USACA executive positions by December 31, 2006" under the "agreed constitutional mechanism" and adds a warning: "[the]ICC executive board reserves the right to revert to the previous position of withholding funds, and not recognising the USACA at ICC events/meetings, etc., if any of the above conditions are not met."
The ICC has done US cricketers a valuable service by letting them know exactly what it expects USACA to do. It is also clear that the ICC's stipulations are by no means trivial; the USACA has to drastically change its modus operandi if it is to fulfill the ICC's requirements. This time, all US cricketers will be watching.
Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA