USA cricket December 17, 2010

Ahmed aims to guide USA cricket into a new era

Nabeel Ahmed, who last month resigned as first vice-president of the USA Cricket Association, has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo he will challenge for the post of board president at next year's elections.

Ahmed, who was born in Pakistan but moved to the USA in 1980 and has been actively involved in the game as a player and administrator ever since, said USACA needed new leadership

"Gladstone Dainty [the current USACA president] has been involved with US cricket for a long time and he has done a lot for it … it went through lots of ups and downs but in the end it was not enough to take USA cricket to greater heights. I think the leadership approach was very casual bearing in mind this is the national organisation and whole cricket community is looking up to it.. The leader's quality is to keep the board together and move it forward, but this has been clearly lacking … there was a division in the board at the highest level and that was bothering me a lot as a second in command.

"I realised things were falling apart and nobody was trying to control them. Some serious allegations were surfacing but nothing was moving, so out of frustration I decided to give up and I resigned under protest.

"USACA has no option but to be democratic and accountable from top to bottom. The organisation has to run professionally and according to the constitution."

Ahmed, who runs his own business in Farmington Hills, Michigan believes he has a "fool-proof plan" to take US cricket forward, and that involves making it a far more open affair than it has been.

"I want to change USACA from the way it has been run. It needs to be a democratic, accountable, fair and transparent organisation, one which cares about the general membership and has a system which is fair and equal for everyone. Participation will be welcomed from each and every region equally, and no region will be treated different.

"It has to be an organisation which cares about every cricketer, cricket administrator in this country and has open door policy and welcome those who are promoting cricket in the country according to USACA constitution."

Ahmed admitted the finances of the game in the US remains a major obstacle, but said he was confident a commercial deal he was actively involved in while on the board would be completed very soon. " I am sure it will go thru and I will be very happy to see it maturing," he said. "[The deal] is one of the best thing which is going to happen for cricket for grass root level and promotion of cricket at national and international level in this country. I was approached by all the commercial partners after my resignation I told them I have my differences with the leadership and some other members who had important positions but my full support is with the commercial deal because it was a great thing for US cricket."

Ahmed would not be drawn on the reason behind the sudden dismissal of Don Lockerbie as USACA chief executive last month - "I know why he was let go but I think best thing is to interview Lockerbie, a USACA representative or Dainty … US stakeholders need to know why" - but was critical of him for not focussing enough on the grassroots game.

I have watched the system very closely and I exactly know what USA cricket community and stake holders need and are looking for

"He should have done more and better for the cricket at that level. He had lots of ideas and a great vision, and in the beginning and we were very happy to have him. As time passed everybody started realising nothing was possible without lots of funds."

Ahmed has no doubts he has the background and skills to take US cricket forward. "I think with my experience in USACA for four years I have done my homework and have put a plan together to take USA cricket to greater heights and regain all the lost respect in the international community."

"I have established a track record over the years in the cricket community nationally and internationally. I have been very vocal and conscious member of the USACA board and always fought for what is right for cricket. I tried my best to bring things on track and make members do things according to the constitution."

"There has been some improvement in the last two years but USACA should have been more organised with effective leadership. The whole system has to be revisited; the favours have to stop. Everybody has to be selected on merit. I have watched the system very closely and I exactly know what USA cricket community and stake holders need and are looking for.

"Change in US cricket is coming and we are going to make it the best cricket market and cricket playing country. The old US cricket politics are over. We don't have time for negativity, we need to change gear and prosper. We need to start electing right people starting from clubs to leagues to regions and eventually the USACA board."

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa