USA news December 27, 2010

USA plans to add paid staff to each region

USA Cricket Association president Gladstone Dainty has said he wants his organisation to hire staff at the regional level with money generated from the recent multi-million dollar deal that formed Cricket Holdings America.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Dainty said he believed adding staff to represent each region would be an effective way to improve the country's weak cricket infrastructure. "This is a very large country and just like USACA talks about a CEO and having full-time or part-time help, in every region we should have people thinking about cricket as their job, about weekends, what the pitches are going to look like, what the fields are going to look like and the number we'll have participating."

USACA will have a minimum of US$9 million at its disposal over the next three years as part of its stake in Cricket Holdings America and Dainty hoped some of the money will be used to upgrade and initiate development programs, which have been put on the backburner for years. "What is necessary, and what is going to give us bang for the buck, is to immediately improve our infrastructure and that means getting more coaches trained and even getting coaches who are going to be paid on a part-time basis."

Cricket in America has been reliant on the service of volunteers for years, ones who aren't able to dedicate the full-time resources that are necessary to focus on installing and building development programs. Asked if he wanted USACA to hire at least one full-time staff member for each of the eight regions, Dainty said that the organisation might not have the funds to do that, but at the very least each one should have a part-time paid person.

"You call them whatever, regional development people, whatever, but that's their job," Dainty said. "They should have their job, they should be helping, and depending on what we can afford, they should be coordinating that. Every region should have that." One of the reasons Dainty is reluctant to spend money on full-time staff is that he would like USACA to budget their newfound money to make it last longer.

"Because this [investment deal] is driven by a business model, I would hope that we don't go ahead and spend all the money right away or commit all the money right away," Dainty said. "I think that we need to put aside some for a rainy day. But like I said the national programs need a little bit of better help."

Dainty's plan goes in a different direction from the one laid out by former chief executive Don Lockerbie, whose main priorities were to hire a national coaching director and start putting national players on central contracts by the end of 2010. Dainty hinted that central contracts would not be a made a priority until the domestic Twenty20 league targeted for the summer of 2012 got underway.

"United States cricket has had a chronic shortage of funds, and although this will not solve all the problems, it puts us in a better position to help grow the sport," Dainty said. "The shortage of funds hurts grassroots development more than anything else because the little bit of funding we do get, the focus is on conspicuous things like putting national teams together. So when that's done, there's hardly anything left there for any type of organized or sustained grassroots development. So this then, I'm hoping that my colleagues will go along with a program of funding leagues and regions better, shoring up those administrations so that they can deliver in terms of having better grassroots programs and then from those grassroots programs we'd be able to substantially increase our talent pool and fan base."

In terms of the vacancy for the chief executive position, Dainty said he had not accepted any resumes or interviewed any candidates to fill the role since Lockerbie was relieved of his duties on November 19. "I would hope within the next 60 days or so we could have that done," he said. "I think that's going to be a priority in the beginning of the year."

USACA is also dealing with a lawsuit filed on December 10 in New York County court by the North American Cricket League (NACL). The suit is reported to be asking for approximately $90 million in damages, which falls within the $80-100 million range that Insite executive director Neil Maxwell placed the capitalised value of Cricket Holdings America at. NACL is claiming that it had entered into an agreement with USACA to promote and organise an official Twenty20 league in America.

Sources said that NACL won the first bidding rights to USACA's global tender for the formation of a Twenty20 league. However, NACL's representatives were required to submit a $250,000 deposit by an unknown deadline in order to continue the process of negotiations. Sources said USACA's position is that NACL failed to meet the deadline, which opened the door for USACA to negotiate with the consortium group that included New Zealand Cricket, Insite, Top Bloom and Podar Holding International.

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey