Dainty confident in his achievements
With the much-anticipated elections to the USA Cricket Association's board of directors this weekend, in the last of three interviews with the candidates for the presidency, we talk to Gladstone Dainty, the incumbent.
Kiddies Cricket - bringing cricket to mainstream America, schools cricket for both boys and girls, collegiate cricket, women's cricket, build strong national teams at the youth and senior levels and supporting regional boards so that they can accelerate cricket development regionally and nationally.
Given all that has happened in the last few years inside US cricket, what drives you to stand again?
Admittedly, USACA has had its share of problems over the past few years; however the support and commitment of fair minded individuals within the organization and throughout the United States has given the courage to continue.
USACA is in a very much better position today than it was five years ago when I took over. We have a new constitution in place that will empower our regions to accelerate the development of cricket, regionally and nationally. We have held National Tournaments consistently at multiple levels for the past five years with little or no funding from the ICC. We are a top performing Associate Member of ICC regarding cricket development. Kiddies cricket and the New York City high-schools-cricket program are two new initiatives that we are very proud and will have a major impact on mainstream America immediately. The USACA board and I were ostracized in the media for the scrapping of Project USA, however I assure you that the USACA board and I had nothing to do with the scrapping of Project USA.
How much do you know about the rival group led by Ram Varadarajan?
I met with Ram about two years ago and he seemed to be a fine gentleman. He represented the California Youth Academy and sought my help to run a youth tournament in California and I urged the USACA Board to support CCA's effort. Like most new programs, the efforts were not perfect but I am glad we did it because we are all learning from some of the mistakes.
Varadarajan has been travelling the country meeting with regional administrators. Has he stolen a march on you or have you been doing the same?
The imperatives are vision and execution. My abilities and past performance match the task at hand. I take time to communicate with stakeholders across USA as stated earlier and I am confident that I have the support and commitment of fair-minded individuals within the organization and throughout the United States that made it possible for me to stand again. I've met with some of the newly formed regional administrations and I do speak to members of the various regional administrations on a daily basis.
How would you respond to people who say that it's time for change?
We have been changing from a private club to an industry. This administration is very proud of its accomplishments over the past five years but we have much more we will do. We will grow our numbers rapidly to allow access to existing infra- structural resources within our communities. We have begun and will continue to partner with school systems, parks and recreation, boys and girls clubs, private cricket academies, ICC regional colleagues and private enterprises.
Over the last two or three years US cricket has been deeply divided. How will you bring together all those factions ... and can you?
We are Americans working for the development and improvement of cricket in USA and that should be all that matters.
Varadarajan has said that the current USACA executive is not representative of the whole USA. How would you respond to this criticism?
That is an unfair criticism of people he has never met.
There has also been criticism that the US side, when it played, was not representative of the country. Again, how would you respond to this criticism?
We have scrapped the quota system and I hope we never go back to that since the primary purpose of our national tournaments is to select the best eligible players, per the ICC requirements, to represent our national teams. And I can assure that this is being done.
To get selected, players go through a system - they first get selected to represent their individual leagues in inter-league competitions, then they get selected to represent their respective region in the national tournaments. It is from these competitions the national selectors identify the best Eligible Players to represent the USA.
You stated that the ICC has well-documented views about USACA and I hope it is not a personal thing. The development of cricket in the United States of America has always been my primary focus and I plan to stay the course, should I get re-elected.
We made positive strides developing cricket in the United States of America and I will continue to do so. We are on par, if not better than most Associate Members of ICC and that speaks volume for the progress we have made under my tenure. We hold national tournaments at the various levels (Senior, Under-19 and Under-15) annually. We are embarking on a program for kids and their parents, schools cricket in New York City public schools - for boy and girls, women's cricket and plans are underway for a collegiate program in 2009. So I don't see how being re-elected will create problems internationally.
One of the most widespread criticisms of the USACA has been its complete lack of transparency, most evident in the way that stakeholders are kept in the dark and the website at times moribund. Do you accept that and how will you remedy it?
The adoption of the new constitution makes it much easier to communicate with stakeholders. With the new structure and a regional administration in place for each region, we can now communicate more efficiently and effectively with stakeholders. There is a system in place whereby the regions are now required to provide us with the most current contact information for stakeholders. In the past, information was disseminated to the regional directors only.
Maintaining the website is a full time job and we are simply under staffed to provide updated information on an ongoing basis. There is no doubt in our minds that the USACA website needs to be out sourced. Several attempts were made in the past to contract resourceful individuals within the USA to develop and maintain the USACA website, however we were not successful. One of my goals is to ensure the technical resources are secured to re-format the website and provide updated information on a regular basis.
Funding has always been a problem. What plans do you have for attracting investors to the game?
This is a very good question. The key to attracting investors and sponsors is to rapidly increase the number participants and profile of cricket over the next five years. We already have some success in this area and we plan to expand on our partnerships.
In talking to potential investors, we have acquired a lot of knowledge over the past few of years. One of the things we have learned is that for cricket to be successful and profitable in USA, like the other mainstream American sports, we must get mainstream American involved at every level. And this is why the kiddies Cricket program, schools program and collegiate program are so important and are priorities on our agenda.
Partnerships will be formed with more financially strong groups, national parks and planning, schools boards, youth empowerment programs and, local and regional businesses.
Where do you think you can take US cricket to in five years time?
Based on the programs we have outlined, we will see cricket in more than 50% of our parks and schools in the USA in the next five years. These programs will feed players to our national tournaments. From these programs and our national tournaments, we will build strong and highly competitive national teams and in doing so achieve ODI status within the next five years.
With the introduction of Twenty20 cricket, I see professional playing opportunities for players becoming a reality in the United States in approximately five years. In five years time, we will have the number of participants and facilities to make this possible. This is due to the building blocks we are putting in place for sustainable growth - Kiddies cricket, schools cricket, collegiate cricket, our national tournaments and our partnership with parks and recreation.
In short, why should someone vote for you?
I am surrounded by a team of individuals who have excelled in their professional careers respectively and who have the skills and knowledge to develop, manage and bring cricket to mainstream America. We have done it under tremendous pressure. Stakeholders should vote for me and my team because of our accomplishments the past five years and for our vision and ability to execute the plans we develop.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo