USACA need to sort out own problems January 1, 2007

Major League Cricket explains its silence

Follow-up interviews and off-the-record phone conversations with USA's Major League Cricket (MLC) explain their official silence on USACA's current problems. Theirs is a deliberate and calculated choice. They are following the issues closely, but giving USACA a wide berth.

From its beginnings, MLC's stated mission has always been that of "developing US cricket to [the point of] achieving mainstream status by 2011", i.e. the year when the next World Cup is to be played in South Asia or Australia. MLC's Global Development Plan (GDP) was first set up 2001, and MLC has been making slow but consistent progress towards this goal. MLC sees its mission as similar to that of (say) Major League soccer, or lacrosse - it is no accident that several US soccer and lacrosse folks have been working closely with MLC on their programs. MLC sees no reason to abandon its direction, and is reluctant to assume other responsibilities.

Early in 2002, MLC approached the USACA executive with a plan for a cooperative agreement where USACA could work actively with its member clubs while MLC would focus on planning and financing for US cricket. It gave up when no official reply was received from the USACA Executive. In fact, a coterie of USACA "supporters" attacked MLC for trying to "usurp" USACA's rights and responsibilities, and then proceeded to undermine its programs with some decidedly shady tactics. This was when MLC finally decided on "going it alone", and adopted a high-risk planning strategy which has proved to be its salvation.

That MLC always had the corporate capability to manage US cricket has long been plain to all but the most myopic observers. For one thing, MLC has always had the resources and assets to meet all the requirements for ICC Associate membership, while USACA has not managed to meet a single one of them in the last three years. MLC reluctantly agreed to reconsider its views on managing US cricket, and specific recommendations to the ICC executive committee to give MLC such a role were placed before the ICC executive. MLC was turned down because it was not the ICC-recognised representative of US cricket, and that was that.

Privately, MLC spokespersons speak of their palpable sense of relief at ICC's actions. With the diehard USACA opposition to MLC still lurking in the wings, it would have been difficult for MLC to implement any management plan for US cricket. Far better, they reason, to continue on their main mission, and let the USACA sort out its own messes.

Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA

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