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New USACA chief sets sights on development

Peter Della Penna

March 4, 2013

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

Darren Beazley, the new chief executive officer of the USA Cricket Association, is hoping to turn around America's cricket fortunes by making grassroots development a high priority during his tenure. Beazley, who began in the role last month after moving from Perth, Australia, stated in an interview with ESPNcricinfo that cricket should be a sport "for all Americans."

"I'm keen to try and work really closely with a lot of the grassroots stakeholders. They've obviously been doing it around their clubs very well but it's now about helping them evolve, take the next step," Beazley said. "I want to work with people and particularly the USACA board to develop a strategic approach and plan for the sport over the next three years and part of that is going to be how we communicate broader than what we're apparently doing at the moment."

For Beazley, the job is an opportunity to show that he can grow the playing base among the local population in the United States that has been historically reliant on expats. Beazley previously lived in the USA in 2002 in Fairfax, Virginia where he met his American wife. Like most people, he says he didn't notice any cricket being played in the Washington, D.C. area a decade ago. Now based out of Florida, he says he's determined to raise the sport's profile nationwide.

"The reality is that cricket in the US right at the moment is very niche so therefore it makes sense that most people are not going to be aware of it," he said. "This is probably one of the most professional sports markets in the world and the big sports are obviously going to dominate mainstream media. There's no reason why with a coordinated and strategic approach that we can't start to get our messages out there.

"As we start to do things over the next few years, it's about using our money wisely and being strategic in how we get those messages out there, whether it's promoting a tournament or whether it's promoting to the community. 'Hey listen kids if you want to play cricket, here's how you can do it.' Schools are the first step but we have to see about making transition from schools to the local club."

Beazley says he has proven through his development work in South Africa for the Australian Football League's Fremantle Dockers as well as during his time as the CEO of the Perth 2011 ISAF World Sailing Championships that he can take an unknown sport in a local area and help build interest to gain exposure, something he feels makes him well suited for his role at the USACA.

"I really enjoy working in international business and international sport," Beazley said. "When I was at Dockers, the work I did in three years in South Africa developing a game was exactly the same scenario here, everyone telling us, 'You'll never get it off the ground. There's no one in South Africa playing Australian Rules Football.' All the rubbish that people do to try and cut you down and hold you back.

"We took it from 2,500 participants to 12,000 participants in our region alone, made some good money out of there and really developed the brand of football and in particular, the Dockers. I think this is a similar challenge where there'll be a lot of Doubting Thomas's and a lot of people telling, 'USACA, you can't do it,' and giving us a million reasons why not. I'm not saying that everything I've got in my mind will come to fruition but I can tell you now we're certainly going to give it our best shot."

One of Beazley's other aims is to establish a healthy relationship between the USACA and the general public in order to improve the organisation's reputation that has remained poor following last year's controversial elections. In his first month on the job, Beazley has attended local league matches in south Florida, met with various local, regional and national stakeholders, published multiple press releases and made himself readily accessible to speak with bloggers and journalists. Beazley plans to launch a new website soon and wants an effective social media presence for the organisation.

It would be a major turnaround from the problems experienced in October when former executive secretary Kenwyn Williams posted a string of messages on Facebook and Twitter that brought negative attention to the USACA and eventually caused him to be removed by the USACA board. Beazley says he doesn't want people to focus on the problems of the past. Rather, he hopes that those with an interest in cricket in the USA will look at his tenure as a clean slate for the organisation.

"I might be Australian so I might be from out of town, but I do have an American family who lives in Alabama and Tennessee so it's not like America is new and something strange to me," Beazley said. "The fact that I'm prepared to pick up my family and move from one side of the world to the other and make a commitment to help people develop the game here over the next three years and hopefully beyond that, I would hope that people would say this is a new start and this is an opportunity for us to develop the game of cricket."

Beazley acknowledges that there is no quick fix for many of the problems US cricket faces, such as lack of financial resources and infrastructure. However, he hopes people involved in cricket around the country are willing to work with him to get things going in the right direction.

"We're not all necessarily always going to agree. I'm not going to ride in on a white horse and wave a magic wand and all of the issues are going to go away because that's not how sport works anywhere in the world, but I am coming here saying that I'm here to help. I'm here to work with people and if we do that together then my experience has been over a long period of time that success becomes inevitable."

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey

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Posted by   on (March 7, 2013, 20:23 GMT)

Hi im Sumon Bari played u-19 world cup for usa team in Sri Lanka. Im really happy to see our teammate akeem dodson and Abhimanyu Rajp in that t20 squad..but i would love know whos the selector in usa now? because we had best team in world cup on 2006.That 06 u19 team is the best usa team ever we went undefeated in canada....and beat namibia in the world cup. I also like to thank my coach Linden Frazer who always try to help me put in usa team but i dont know whos the selector..... im sorry to say,you guys dont give a chance to Bangladeshis players usa never will qualify for any world cup.

Posted by   on (March 7, 2013, 3:13 GMT)

Im shayan, i played in the under 19 usa team. I think everything thats happening is more a step towards success, usaca needs to get up there, we need to be as good as all the other countries. and this could happen. we have the talent.

Posted by cricketfan2013 on (March 6, 2013, 17:27 GMT)

@bharath - Of course you need to pay in order to play in any form of structured event or league since basics like insurance and maintenance fees need to be paid (although sometimes maintenance leaves a lot to be desired). You can't seriously expect to play anything other than backyard or street cricket without having to pay some for of fee. The onus is as much on individual clubs to be constructive, responsible members of a well structured and financed system, as it is on the governing body to provide said structure and financial support. There seems to be a lot of improving from both sides that needs to be done. That aside, good luck Darren, and anyone else who is trying to develop the game of cricket in this country.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2013, 7:31 GMT)

It will be difficult to make cricket catch on in the United States. Sports like football and baseball, in being distinctly American and having been founded in America, will never be supplanted. Baseball, in particular, due to its similarities to cricket will certainly hamper cricket's progress. Furthermore, even the t20 format is relatively long (~4 hrs) for the American public. Cricket can certainly become more popular but given how it has been promoted so far, its ceiling as an American sport is limited. This is particularly due to it being dominated by expatriates and not enough being done to promote cricket's popularity amongst the general public. There are obviously some promising developments, such as a high school cricket league in New York (which I participated in) but even this league is dominated by kids who have just emigrated here (I was an exception). The cricket atmosphere in America just seems to closeted and exclusive.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

There are many curious people in Columbus Georgia. And we also have Friday night cricket where we get together and play cricket tournaments. Please have some kind of visit to Georgia. The talent here is amazing but there are no opportunities to showcase it. Also we should start by promoting cricket on Tv through espn because all of America watches it. Followed by creations of local teams and local tornaments. Thanks I hope cricket will become popular in America because it is a great sport.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2013, 4:04 GMT)

We all have our dreams, Darren, but what you'll learn is that cricket in the USA is jealously kept secret by expats who hold its domain and have no desire to let us Yanks in on this wonderful sport. The last thing they want is Americans to learn and excel at cricket. Right now, it's all theirs and they intend to keep it that way. We're not invited.

Good luck and God speed, Darren...you'll need plenty of both.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2013, 3:16 GMT)

I still feel that T20 cricket is still not short enough by global standards. Its duration is more than double as compared to soccer. If you aim to make a quick-and-crisp version of cricket, then three-and-half hours are still long. Ideally the length of the shortest version should be between seven to ten overs.

Posted by bharath74 on (March 6, 2013, 1:59 GMT)

forget about americans, just help ppl who are playing cricket right now. There are no cricket facilities anywhere in USA. If there are any, u need to pay for the ground and there are no organized events by ICC. ppl organize events by by collecting registration fees which is deterring ppl from playing cricket as students and young ppl cant afford them. Cricket is in pathetic state in USA that is the fact.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 23:50 GMT)

Another attempt to fix USA cricket, Reminds what Don Lockerbie did in past untill... It's simple USACA will work hard with this new person at Front office till they achieve their goals!!! Every one knows cricket in USA means its all about those green dollars !!! wake up folks Cricket is barely played by 10 countires at Ineternation scene on consistant basis and mostly in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh). Please leave this game as it is and where it belongs. Unless cricket willing to bring money to USA and help our education system in schools & colleges by means of supporting that system like many other sports does. Lack of Grounds, Lack of Equipment availability in Local stores and coaches are just few points to think about cricket in USA. Good Luck to all involved in this process.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 23:11 GMT)

The ICC should spend its development dollars on China, where there is a greater potential for cricket to become part of the sporting landscape compared to the lost cause of North America. Cricket is a is a sport of expats and their offsprings in North America because the major sports are firmly established and there is virtually no room for another stick and ball pastime.

If cricket leaders ignore China and focus on North America, cricket is doomed to become a regional sport.

Posted by ElPhenomeno on (March 5, 2013, 22:03 GMT)

Cricket has about as much chance of prospering in north American market (among born and bred north americans) as baseball have of prospering in India. Soccer is barely making a dent after decades of good work. It will be a bunch of expats playing as usual.

Posted by PakoP on (March 5, 2013, 21:05 GMT)

@ Yasser Khan

" U.S.A have their own version of every game; cricket - baseball, hockey - ice hockey and football - rugby"

but they have Tennis, Basket ball, Soccer.... too. Lets see the positive side and support T20 in USA. Thanks

Posted by SnowSnake on (March 5, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

There are some ideas that are dead on arrival and cricket in America is one such idea. "Cricket should be for all Americans." All I have to say is that slogan alone is very offensive. Americans do not like to be told what is good for them and what is not. It is the choice and competition that really matters in the USA. When it comes to competition, cricket is competing with its hands tied behind its back. Unless, ICC can give Cricket USA a billion dollars for marketing, most people in America will not even hear about cricket in America let alone watch it.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 16:26 GMT)

Lots and lots of thunder and lightening without rain, for the past 20 years since I am in North America. There are cricket leagues and tournaments in Atlanta, and I can imagine what would be happeneing in mega cities like Houston, Chicago, San Francesco etc. However they are all private events and USACA has nothing to do with it. USACA is sound and fury signifying nothing.

Posted by ashishkhandelwal on (March 5, 2013, 15:52 GMT)

Darren, After reading most of the comments I am little demoralized with all the negativity. I have to admit that some comments do provide fresh outlook for you and can help you explore different opportunities. I have been playing in local league in New Jersey for last 10 years and popularity of this league has gone through the roof. This league started with 12 teams and now has more than 40 teams registered for this year. There are 2 other leagues in New Jersey and more than 100 registered teams that regularly play cricket on Saturday and Sunday. If you really want to generate local interest for Cricket you need to explorer these leagues and help them get better. I believe there are leagues like this all over United States who do not get anywhere due to lack of resources. I really think this might be good starting point for you as you will have direct access to Cricket Crazy people through these leagues. Ashish

Posted by PakoP on (March 5, 2013, 14:23 GMT)

T20 Cricket is much more Thrilling than any sport played in USA, some time T20 game can even beat the best Thriller movie released in the Calendar year (India vs Pak Final in World T20)

Bring T20 Cricket to USA, we are waiting anxiously ...

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 14:08 GMT)

start by giving all the professional politicians on the board and executive positions their walking papers. To ensure this vision becomes reality, there should be no one from WI, India, or pakistan --get all the young bright graduates from Princeton, Harvard school of economics and finance on your team and you will break all the bariers. But if you have the same team around you you will get what we have always been getting....more of the same.

Posted by ZNiazi on (March 5, 2013, 9:05 GMT)

In order for any venture to succeed you need a group of people with a heartfelt desire and a will to succeed. USACA is not that group of people. They just want to be in power and remain there forever. Time and again they proved that to the world. This new CEO just might be the right person for the job but i can almost certainly guarantee you that he will fail.... He might get a few tornaments completed but he won't be able to achieve his goals... Or do much for cricket in the USA... Why you ask? Well...his "superiors" at USACA have given him the car...but with no keys.... He won't be able to make the large and bold changes necessary. USACA needs him here for the funding only...nothing else. And when he fails to overcome their obstacles, they will be the first to hand him his walking papers... Get ready to waste more time...yours and mine....

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 7:10 GMT)

its not going to work. North American live in their own world and have different taste. They have their own version of every game; cricket - baseball, hockey - ice hockey and football - rugby.

Posted by zuber21886 on (March 5, 2013, 6:01 GMT)

to develop cricket in America, it should be taken to school level, where kids will learn and develop further ahead.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (March 5, 2013, 5:46 GMT)

Good luck, Many attempts have been made to popularize cricket in America during the last 100 years by immigrants to America from the cricket playing countries. It was always going to be hard in America because it will compete with America's own brand of cricket called Baseball which is a national pastime. However I have noticed many Americans who are passionate Baseball fans have also taken a liking to Cricket because the rules are interchangeable, Both sports have Batting(Batter, Bowling(Pitcher) and Fielders. So maybe native American Baseball fans should be targeted as they already are passionate about one Bat and Ball sport.I think ICC missed a trick by not having a international one day tournament like they did in the middle east for the past 30 years.But I guess you need a cricket loving Billionaire like they did in UAE to bank roll such a tournament . Personally I can't see Cricket being more popular in future there.Still it won't stop cricket fans playing cricket there in Summer

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

I wish Mr Beazley well and luck I hope he is aware and knows who his dealing with when dealing with USACA and its regional directors.There are several questions which I personally think need to be addressed if cricket is to develop in the US. 1] To address the lack of good facilities in quantity and how to support the leagues in dealing with local authorities nationally. 2]To develop grass wickets throughout the country. Wickets that are maintained to the required standards of grass wickets as well as the groundsman to maintain them. 3] Develop cricket in Universities so it becomes a college sport with the requisite facilities. 4 To separate the influence of weekend cricket from those who have the desire and potential to play more serious cricket.Develop cricketers that wish to play First class cricket as well as limited over. 5]Look and talk to those developing rugby in the US.

The thing about these questions is not that they can be dealt with over night but that tthey are disc

Posted by tappee74 on (March 5, 2013, 0:38 GMT)

It will be great to see professional cricket played in the US.The US is a diversified society with people from every country.While living in Baltimore MD, I saw many top class games played ther in the summers.Every cricketing nation has players who show a lot of enthusiasm and the competition is fierce.A few years back I saw a player by the name of Amarnauth Behari whom I was told is a migrant from Guyana.This guy had every stroke in the book,it was a priveledge to watch him bat. He made 94 not out in that match. I was told he is teaching his American friends the game.Guys like Behari is very useful in the upliftment of this sport which can be big in the advent of time.

Posted by Robster1 on (March 5, 2013, 0:30 GMT)

As an expat Brit in S Florida, I can assure you that any England matches scheduled at Lauderhill would only bring full houses.

Posted by ARad on (March 5, 2013, 0:28 GMT)

More reasons for promoting Cricket via Universities. E. Not many would want to invest directly in USACA given its notoriety. Colleges that can self govern through their own athletic departments can be trusted by intelligent & wealthy expatriates who are willing to invest in Cricket here. F. Schools won't be able to afford professional coaches so, if 20 decent coaches are going to be dispersed to various parts of the USA, each is better off coaching a University team rather than a high school since games between Univ of California and Stanford would be of higher quality and would generate more local, expatriate & media interest than game between two high schools in Miami-Dade county, for example. G. Current USACA activities seem to be tied to regional self-centered interests. A decentralized college structure could be nationally oriented. It can sustain itself (via NCAA recognition??) and overcome USACA's mishaps (if USACA can't improve) so the progress won't be stop-start as it is now.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 0:25 GMT)

Good Luck !! Please do not be surprised as to what goes on at the top. Simple advice is that you focus on the Youth Cricket aggressively.

Posted by Rooohan on (March 5, 2013, 0:24 GMT)

Just trying to be realistic. Cricket will NEVER be successful in USA. The sport heaven is already saturated with Football, Baseball, Basketball, Ice Hockey. Soccer is struggling even though it is very popular as a kid sport. Lacross is trying to make in to mainstream. Tennis is fighting hard to get its share. Test and ODI is dying. 20/20 will have some luck in US.

Posted by   on (March 5, 2013, 0:19 GMT)

Get cricket on TV somehow, any cricket. Middle of the night, Channel 684, it doesn't matter.

That's how this American picked up the game. Caught WI-AUS on Boxing Day by chance on my new satellite dish, ended up as the president of a cricket club a few years later.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 23:09 GMT)

I really like to say someting aout this player who played u-19 world cup for usa hes name is Sumon Bari first bangladeshi player represent usa team. His amazing player usa must need him,hes our proud we really need to see him in senior team squad.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 22:36 GMT)

Good luck to you sir on this great venture, the US really need some international cricket matches.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

Darren,

Good luck. US has the potential to generate more money than sum total of rest of the cricket world. Soccer evolution over last 40 yrs is a great case study/bench mark for you. However beware of the self centered negative forces. If you are not good enough you will be out of this role before you complete 1st anniversery. Cricket is highly fragmented in USA. Cricket followers with knowledge come from West Indies, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and then some from England and Australia. Each community specifically WI, Pak, India, SL are power centers in each region and most of the so called seniors have liitle or no interest in building cricket for tomorrow nor taking the game to the grass root level. So your goals will clash with theirs. They need power and recognition at any cost. There is a very small number of individuals who are genuinely interested in getting US Cricket on global map. They are your best bet.. Good luck again...We do need a perfect storm..

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

I guranteed if they ever host a international game in newyork , than they will get profit and the money that they never imagined , newyork is the city where most of bangladesh , india and pakistani people lived , and in the summer here cricket going on everywhere , i just wanna say icc need just one event in newyork thats it they never have to look back after that

Posted by timmyj on (March 4, 2013, 19:05 GMT)

Sounds a lot like Lockerbie when he started. Waiting to see his specifica plans for taking the game to Americans. Have had plenty of people confident they could do this and never got anywhere. Not really impressed that because he brought Aussie rules football to South Africa he can bring cricket to Americans. Contrary to what he believes the situation in the two countries is very different. I still haven't heard that's he's reached out to people who have been working with Americans on the grassroots level. If he thinks he can ignore the collective experience of 150 years of trying to get Americans interested in cricket he's going to have tough time.

Posted by   on (March 4, 2013, 18:20 GMT)

Go Darren! As an Aussie with a local family in the US, I'd say for starters as a CEO you should have a LinkedIn profile (doesnt appear you do), expand your expat networks among those professionals who you know who come from cricket playing nations (let's face it, that is the only reason why people have a hit in the backyard in Virginia) and begin with getting all those people on board with seeding cricket among their American mates. I have got locals into playing rugby leauge, friends of mine have aussie rules teams up and down the east coast here (with Sheedy visiting etc), and there are 5000+ rugby union players in DC alone... a good start to get the cross polination of non-traditional US sports embracing another one in cricket (some people who AB and Boonie etc can visit?). Get in any cab here and you can often talk cricket to an Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Sri Lankan, or someone from the Carribean too - and they also have their local hits playing in the park-not part of any US comp

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