USA elections April 18, 2012

No victory for democracy

USACA votes back the old guard and stifles hope for the future

The news that Gladstone Dainty has won a landslide in the USA Cricket Association elections is about as surprising as Robert Mugabe emerging victorious in this year's presidential elections in Zimbabwe. Even Mugabe would give a respectful nod at the way Dainty managed to ensure many of those opposing him were either denied a vote or effectively totally maginalised. Only 15 of the 47 leagues were deemed eligible to take part in the elections. Many of those shut out had recently vociferously opposed the way USACA was operating.

The fact that the election took place at all - it should have been held in March 2011 - will appease the ICC, who will now be able to counter critics of the way US cricket is run with rhetoric about democratic processes and the need to respect the will of stakeholders. But few believe that the charade that has just taken place leaves US cricket in any better state than it has been for much of the last decade.

Dainty has overseen a period of unrivalled and bitter infighting within USACA. He refuses to engage with the media or with groups within the US who do not support him and has at times appeared to run USACA as something akin to a personal fiefdom. Board meetings have become increasingly rare and many key decisions have been taken by him acting alone.

The shambles he has overseen is well documented. Two unprecedented suspensions of USACA by the ICC are history. A high-profile chief executive - Don Lockerbie - was hired amid fanfare and then fired less than two years down the line by Dainty. The reasons for his dismissal are, like so many operational issues within USACA, still shrouded in mystery.

All the incumbents were returned to the board in the elections despite having overseen several years of shabby inefficiency. The only fresh face is Kenwyn Williams, the new executive secretary, but emails to stakeholders in the build-up to the elections suggest he is firmly in the Dainty camp.

Many have asked why Dainty still has the appetite to remain as USACA president given all the mud thrown at him. The reason can be found in the recent deal with Cricket Holdings, which promises to bring large sums running into millions of dollars into the USACA coffers. Money brings increased power. The USA remains an untapped resource and those on the outside are prepared to overlook any amount of unpleasantness to acquire a slice of the pie.

The new income stream should be good news for the rank and file inside the USA as hard-working local administrators look to expand the game among a largely uninterested population. But given the track record of the current board, there is no cause to expect any of those monies that do trickle down to be distributed fairly.

Whatever the ICC, USACA and Cricket Holdings claim in the coming days, this is not a victory for democracy. It is another sorry episode in the wretched mess that is US cricket.

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

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