Stakeholders now have to decide November 19, 2007

A subdued fanfare for new constitution

With less than the expected flourish of trumpets, a new constitution for the USA Cricket Association (USACA) was released by the board executive.

The first reactions to the document were lukewarm. At best, it was seen as an earnest effort to paper over some of the most obvious flaws in the old constitution, but in the process it inadvertently exposed some new problems. At worst, it failed to address some fundamental issues facing US cricket, and in so doing, it represented something of an anti-climax.

There are some issues thrown up by the new document, not the least being how US cricket should be governed so as to maintain its essentially democratic structure, which has been at the heart of the rows over the last decade. In this regard both the old and the new USACA constitutions totally fail to address the issue.

The lurch towards a furtive and centralized modus operandi, which has developed in USACA over the past three years, is not significantly addressed by the new constitution. Beyond steps to curb the most flagrant abuses of power, the new constitution offers little safeguards against usurpation of authority and the maintenance of conspiratorial secrecy.

Again by way of contrast, the CLP re-draft submitted to ICC in December 2006 included a series of 10 procedures to incorporate needed checks and balances into the re-draft. Steps were spelled out to maintain accountability at all levels of governance, and penalties were included to ensure that USACA executives and board fully complied with their stated responsibilities - an unheard-of thing in the present USACA.

The second concern is over finances and how US cricket will pay for itself in the short, medium and long run? Neither the old nor the new USACA constitution offer any new ideas on this point. Revenues from that bring in about $18,000pa and there will also be the additional income from the ICC once USACA is readmitted to the fold.

There is the rather shadowy deal entered into with Consensus, a marketing company, which could, if their promises come to fruition, earn USACA millions of dollars in fees for sanctioning ODIs involving overseas teams, mainly from Asia . But the deal is very much up in the air and the promises are no more than that. But the prospect of such riches does help explain why Dainty and his associates seem so keen to cling to office.

Thirdly is the question of how will USACA be made to operate at the levels of efficiency required by ICC to meet its responsibilities as an Associate Member, when it has failed to meet a single one of them in the last ten years?

This is the issue that has been most remarked upon by USACA's critics, from Ehsan Mani and Malcolm Speed to just about every stakeholder in US cricket outside the USACA inner circle. But the ICC requirements for Associate Membership are not even mentioned in the new USACA constitution, nor are any provisions made for meeting any of them.

Where things go from here is the big question. Most US cricket leagues whose clubs are members of USACA have their presidents as members of CLP. Any constitution, which fails to address the fundamental issues facing cricket, may well be rejected by them.

There are, however, differences of opinion within CLP. Some want to get any kind of constitution adopted, and vote in a new USACA leadership as soon as possible, leaving fundamental changes for later. Others argue that only in a brand-new constitution can a slew of fundamental changes be instituted from the start, and they want a draft constitution to contain most of the items that were proposed on their behalf to the ICC. They are unwilling to settle for less.

Only time will tell, of course, which of these viewpoints will be likely to prevail. But that time is not far off.

Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA