USA News August 28, 2013

'USA should revoke membership of ICC'


Frustrated with the lack of progress in the development of cricket in the United States of America, the head of the nation's youth cricket association has called on the country to relinquish its membership of the ICC.

Despite having been an been an associate member of the ICC since 1965, cricket remains a minority sport in the USA, with fewer than 10 grass pitches and only three of the current national side born in the country.

USA's membership has twice been suspended from the ICC and plans for a high-profile T20 league have never progressed beyond discussions. USA are currently in Division Three of the World Cricket League and USA Cricket Association, the official board, are believed to be US$2 million in debt and mired in controversy after highly criticised internal elections.

Now Jamie Harrison, president of the volunteer organisation USA Youth Cricket Association has called for change. While Harrison is loathe to turn his back on the funding provided by the ICC - currently around $300,000 per year - he is among those to have lost faith in the USA Cricket Association, the official board, who have, he says, "proven itself incapable of establishing cricket as an American sport".

According to Harrison, if the ICC is unwilling or unable to see that USACA are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, the country would be better off without their involvement.

"After nearly fifty years of Associate membership of the ICC, cricket in the United States still languishes as a niche sport for expatriates," Harrison told ESPNcricinfo. "The national governing body has proven itself incapable of establishing cricket as an American sport and the world governing body sees America's value solely in terms of the commercial prospects of its expatriate fan base.

"Ample evidence exists to support the conviction that the United States has evolved into little more than a dysfunctional cricket colony, forever doomed to the backwaters of the international game, unless a new path is chosen.

"It is clear to me that the time for this new path has come, and that for the immediate future, that path must shun ICC entanglements. Only by shedding its international rewards and responsibilities can America free itself from those in its current cricket administration, find true visionaries for its leadership, and turn its ample resources toward building a domestic game.

"Rather than prop up a dysfunctional, unpopular body saddled with crushing debt that cannot act in the best interests of American cricket, the ICC should do the right thing and let us begin again, and if the ICC won't get on the right side of the debate, then the USA should just do it without them.

"The time has come for change. No longer is out-of-touch administrators smugly dictating to American volunteers an acceptable state of affairs."

"The time has come for change. No longer is the status quo, where out-of-touch administrators smugly dictate to American volunteers, an acceptable state of affairs. We believe that a fresh start, a start controlled from the grassroots by those doing the hard work of building the game, is required."

One of the fundamental problems, in Harrison's view, is the link between ICC funding and the success of the national side. It has, he claims, led to short-termism both in regards team selection and development funding with administrators chasing immediate gains and the expat market, to the exclusion of youth development and engagement.

He hopes that, in time, the ICC will embrace the American Cricket Federation as a viable alternative to USACA.

"The ACF is a relatively new national organisation that has attracted some of the best cricket administrators in the country to its ranks," Harrison explained. "Its constitution and governance structure is superior to USACA and they go to great lengths to give representation to all cricket stakeholders. More to the point, its leadership is motivated by altruism, not ego-inflating ICC baubles."

The USYCA was formed by Harrison in 2010 with the intention of making a more vigorous effort to grow the game in the US, and claims to have reached around 250,000 school students, though that figure is disputed by the ICC. The association has distributed more than 1,500 cricket sets to schools across the country. But Harrison said he had found his efforts to push the game at the grassroots level had not corresponded to the way he feels the ICC sees the US - primarily as an extra marketplace for the current Full Member countries.

Tim Anderson, global development manager at the ICC, accepted the development of US cricket had been "challenging" but insisted that USACA was now putting in place the changes required to progress.

"It's important to acknowledge the history of cricket in the USA," Anderson told ESPNcricinfo. "The majority of cricket played in the USA is by people of Caribbean or south Asian backgrounds, and limited progress has so far been made in taking the game to the wider population. USACA has also faced governance and administration challenges in the past that saw it twice suspended by the ICC for failing to meet membership criteria.

"But that approach wasn't effective and therefore a closer working relationship has now been established. To the USACA Board's credit, it has recognised that change is needed for the game to move forward more purposefully, and over the past year this has led to the appointment of a new CEO, the implementation of an independent governance review and the development of a new strategy and staffing structure that has a focus on both improving performance and growing participation.

"We admire the work of USYCA and other youth development organisations across the USA that are promoting cricket to the youth of America. Their work supports USACA's national development mandate and will hopefully assist in the long term realisation of cricket's vast potential in the USA."

Darren Beazley, who became chief executive of USACA in February, admitted the long-term history of his organisation was "chequered", but felt the short-term results promised far more.

"I can't deny there have been problems in the past," he told ESPNcricinfo. "But we're heading in the right direction now. We've made real progress in the last six months and I hope, in time, we can persuade Jamie Harrison to work with us."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ajith on August 31, 2013, 17:15 GMT

    My comments are addressed to the author primarily. Please understand that Jamie Harrison's Organization primarily focuses on tennis ball and hard tennis ball cricket. Therefore when you try to project him as "the" voice in youth cricket you are ignoring many other organizations that focus on youth playing genuine hard ball cricket and spend their time and resources to improve Cricket.Yes, the USA record in youth cricket is deplorable. That has to do with a lack of structure in youth cricket and the vested interests in current cricketing circles none of which USACA is "arrogantly" refusing to address. Revoking ICC membership is not the solution. Revoke USACA's exclusive rights to cricket in the USA. Confer those rights to one or two other organizations so that it fosters competition to promote cricket here. Until that happens you will be pouring money into (I do not want to go there.........)

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2013, 18:28 GMT

    So how is cricket funded exactly in the United States? Through private individuals and corporations? How can U.S. cricket get more funding?

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    @Krishnan - If you've never heard of USYCA, and you are now surprised to hear about the 250,000 children they've introduced to cricket, then you must not be that involved in cricket in America. Wake up. Seriously!

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    Disappointing article. While we are here at Cricket Zeal Academy toiling away in California building up Youth Cricket across 4 cities here in Silicon Valley, some random article appears and shows no respect whatsoever to grass root folks such as us. It is for the first time I heard that there is an organization called USYCA! And they've trained, wait a minute, how many kids now? 250,000? Did ESPN check whether the bats were flat or rounded? 250,000 kids! Deserves a recheck, I suppose!

  • Manoj on August 29, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    Here in USA teams play each other and they say we are world champion though there is not a single international team or player.huh... Also they don't want to promote cricket here becuase they are affraid of cricket popularity and it will harm there own created boring game - Basball.

  • dexter on August 29, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    The USA is lite years ahead of the ICC and the sport of cricket as a whole. And they are right when they say that all the decision making takes too long especially when it comes to serious progression, just proves me right when I say that cricket is full of too much bureaucracy and very little vision when it comes to development, no wonder the USA is in debt of $2 million the ICC needs a serious overhaul SEEEEERIOUSLY!!!! They need to be overthrown and all those old grey headed men need to be removed and replaced with young enterprising blood and that has to be done soon to save this great and wonderful sport.

  • Dummy4 on August 29, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    I think the problem here is that instead of trying to develop a sport, they are trying to develop a market. Their focus is too much on the money part of it and not that much on building the game itself. You will have to focus on funding schools and colleges here to introduce Cricket then we ll get somewhere. You want locals and main market to play the sport. Instead of focussing on big market and thinking about how to make money, lets think about how to develop the sport and take it to mainstream America.

  • Tom on August 29, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    I live in Houston, Tx and there are currently quarter of a million Indian Americans ( Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) live in greater Houston areas. Than there are others like Srilankans, Nepaleese, West Indians, British, Australians and so on. But sadly there is no official cricket stadium in Houston and hardly couple of decent pitches available. There is a lot of enthusiasm for cricket here and only from Houston we can raise a good competative team out of expatriats. It's hard to believe that UAE and Afghanistan are producing better teams and USA can't. The community here desperately wants to involve their kids in cricket activities and we need atleast 20 pitches to satisfy the demand. Currently most of the kids play either in the parking lots of apartmemnts, Temples, mosques or on some grounds with no pitches. They wants to play with regular cricket Gears and balls but due to safety reasons they can't. NY, Dallas, LA are other cities with great potential. ICC should wake up now.

  • Jay on August 29, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    @anton1234: We can agree to disagree. However, you mentioned a stat of 41%. Can you provide me with any valid proof or source as to where you came to know about it ? Which part of the USA represents that 41% are all important factors. So we need evidence when you give out such numbers. Also, the number of losses to the so called 'lesser' teams which you mentioned in your comment is a bit unfair. There are NO 'lesser' teams in MLB. All teams have a rich tradition and history in major league baseball. You probably meant slightly inconsistent teams yes ? Yes, there are inconsistent teams in baseball, my own Toronto Blue Jays are a fine example; winners of the 1992 and 1993 World Series title. But nowadays they are not so good. Anyway, in sport we have winners and losers; so what if these good teams lost to the others ? They are humans after all. It's the overall win ratio that I am talking about. Even cricket has its share of losers. It's part of professional sport.

  • Amit on August 29, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    For long time there was no term limit provision for Presidents in the US constitution. Presidents voluntarily served only two terms following a tradition that was started by our First President George Washington; who, despite being widely popular chose to retire after the end of his second term. In fact President Washington wanted to retire after the first term. Hope USACA office bearers learn from the example set by our Nation's first president.