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USACA must turn problems to its advantage

USACA is now at a crossroads and its critics - and they are fairly widespread - will be watching to see what happens next

Martin Williamson

November 2, 2012

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Dainty Gladstone, President USACA, February 21, 2011
USACA under Gladstone Dainty has a small window of opportunity as a result of Kenwyn Williams going rogue © Peter Della Penna

The dismissal of the objectionable Kenwyn Williams signals the official end of a fortnight of embarrassment for US cricket and the USA Cricket Association.

It is unlikely to silence Williams, who continues to refuse to accept the decision, but he is no longer privy to board information and has offended even those who initially sympathised with him, so his potential to cause trouble is fading fast.

USACA is now at a crossroads and its critics - and they are fairly widespread - will be watching to see what happens next. It has for a long time been accused, with justification, of being unaccountable and totally dismissive of the need to engage with stakeholders or the media.

It was this refusal to appreciate that silence fuels rumours and breeds discontent that created the environment which allowed Williams to use official USACA social media outlets to push his increasing unpleasant views and abuse anyone who had the temerity to cross him.

Some within USACA's higher echelons were concerned over the maverick Williams from the moment he was elected but questions have to be asked about the board's vetting procedures. This was, after all, a man who bombarded regional representatives with eccentric emails before the board elections in April and then on the day of the poll sent an email with the subject line "Vote Williams or Die". Even a cursory search of the internet would have revealed someone who did not necessarily play nicely.

The board decided it was not willing to allow Williams access to its existing social media outlets so he set up his own unofficial "official" versions of them. For a few months things went uneventfully but it was an accident waiting to happen. When the board started to block his unilateral plans he turned on them, and then the world in general. What he claimed was a carefully orchestrated media campaign was clearly no more than a rather unpleasant man getting carried away with his own importance.

But he's gone and USACA's board can breathe a sigh of relief. It now needs to show it has learned from this.

The appointment of a new chief executive later this month is a start but he has a lot of fences to mend. Aside from the long-standing internal problems facing US cricket the CEO needs to blast open the closed doors behind which USACA has operated for so long. To stop persistent rumours about the state of the board's finances - which Williams jumped on with glee - he has to open up the accounts for scrutiny.

Perhaps his hardest job will be to persuade Gladstone Dainty, USACA's seemingly permanent president, that it is not acceptable to try to run his board with a level of secrecy that would make Kim Jong-un proud.

USACA can turn this shambles to its benefit and send a clear message that it is ready to start afresh. But the window of opportunity is small and it has to act quickly if it is to win over its critics.

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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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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