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USACA targets massive player growth

Peter Della Penna

September 17, 2013

Comments: 19 | Text size: A | A

USA celebrate after winning the ICC Americas U-19 championship, Americas Under-19 Championship 2010-11
USACA is targeting a 56% increase in player count by 2016 © Peter Della Penna
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USA Cricket Association (USACA) chief executive Darren Beazley has announced a goal of increasing the number of recreational players in the country to 50,000. The target is the chief aim of USACA's strategic plan for 2014-16, which was unveiled over the weekend.

According to 2012 ICC Development Programme data, USA has 32,066 players, including 17,820 registered in hardball leagues. USA had 26,935 amateur players in 2009 according to ICC data, meaning that there was a 19% increase in playing numbers over the last three years. For comparison at the Associate level, Ireland had a 113% increase from 18,969 to 40,414 players in the last three years according to ICC data. Achieving the 50,000 target in USACA's three-year strategic plan would require a 56% rise in participants, but Beazley says it can be done through recruiting more women and junior players.

"US cricket has really been crying out for a plan," Beazley told ESPNcricinfo. "This is not going to be the panacea, that's for sure. It's only really a road map for the next step. I wanted to make sure it was collaborative, clear and gave people a direction and I think it does that.

"I think it's achievable. That's going to come from a real focus on getting more girls and women playing, and getting more kids eight-years-and-up playing, and really trying to ensure over the next three years that the standard of competition that the seniors play in is a good quality and is split into grades, so you have an A grade, a B grade and a premier league."

Currently, USA has only 930 junior players registered in hardball leagues with about half of those playing in the NY Public Schools Athletic League, the only high-school cricket league in America. Beazley would not elaborate on how many junior players he wants as part of the 50,000-target, but said that more must be done to produce similar style programmes and structures as opposed to introductory clinics. From that standpoint, Beazley's plan differs greatly from the work done by the US Youth Cricket Association (USYCA), which has focused on donating startup cricket sets mainly for use in gym classes to get children exposed to cricket for the first time.

"It's one thing to get lots of people tasting the game. It's another thing to get them playing competitions week in-week out," Beazley said. "We want kids to experience in a school or in a camp environment, but the big push is then how do we get them to play in a six-to-eight-week competition because that's where you learn your cricket. On that basis, we're probably forgoing huge amounts of numbers just going out and doing lots of one-day and two-hour clinics because that's not sustainable long term. It's good and it gets kids exposed to the game but it doesn't have any sustainable or observable outcome at the end. What we're doing is forgoing huge amounts of numbers to make sure that we put in place structures."

Beazley indicated that high performance manager Andy Pick and other staff that may come on board will be crucial in executing the plan. He said increasing sponsorship and corporate support will enable more staff to be hired and hopefully will also allow USACA to establish funding pools for facilities development and a high performance center.

"It's great to have the plan, but on the next phase - and it's why we've been working on it so long - we're going to start to roll out the resourcing plan, which will look at human resources and financial resources to make sure that we can actually deliver on the plan," Beazley said "USACA as an organisation has to grow. We can't do it with two or three staff.

"If cricket in this country is going to be around in 20 years, then we need to go out and commercialise it. In order to do that, when a commercial company wants to have a good look at you, they're going to say, 'What do you stand for? What are your values? What are you trying to achieve?' That's what 2013 has been all about. It's been trying to define what USACA is all about. It's about trying to, as an organization, work out what it is that we want to achieve and then communicating that to our members and to the broader cricket community."

Beazley believes USACA will be able to develop revenue streams by, among other things, selling broadcast rights to next year's USACA National Championship, set to be held at a new facility in Indianapolis. An increase in funding is identified as an important part of the strategic plan, which states that USACA should have a "commercial plan developed that reduces current reliance on ICC funding". About 75% of USACA's annual revenue comes from the ICC. At the same time though, Beazley doesn't want stakeholders to be entirely dependent on USACA to alleviate funding issues locally.

"What we don't want is USACA to be seen as a big cash cow or the bank because we're not," Beazley said. "We're a charitable organisation. We're here to help and guide. We don't have massive pots of money but what we do have is expertise."

Ultimately though, Beazley said in order for USACA's strategic plan for 2014-16 to succeed, it will be up to local volunteers to buy into it and contribute the manpower necessary to pull it off.

"The people that are on the ground are going to be critical in doing this," Beazley said. "We're not going to be able to have 500 people on the payroll to deliver this. We just couldn't do it. Some volunteers work massive hours and are prepared to give that and that's the sort of people we want."

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey

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Posted by rohary on (September 19, 2013, 22:00 GMT)

Beazley has truly immersed himself in the sleazy world of US cricket! Additionally, to put in a dig to the only national body, USYCA currently and most likely going forward planting the seeds and nurturing the sport is SHAMEFUL!! US cricket has been dented and having Dainty in place for the last 10 years places a cherry on top of the bukake. If the ICC was realistic about the game in the US they would have taken the route FIFA took with US Soccer; not one of an arrogant cheap shot artist demeaning anyone who does not agree with his 8 month viewpoint, especially not the one's who have been in the trenches for YEARS!!!

Posted by   on (September 18, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Cricket in the USA can be a success if we plan right. We need people with great visions in this country, no matter where you are from we need to produce solid ideas for the game and put them in operation. This what we need to do plan properly and extensively and see the game grow by leaps and bounds. To much talking and empty promises, plan,, plan, plan is key.

Posted by TexanCricketer on (September 18, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

"It's one thing to get lots of people tasting the game. It's another thing to get them playing competitions week in-week out," Beazley said. On that basis, we're probably forgoing huge amounts of numbers just going out and doing lots of one-day and two-hour clinics because that's not sustainable long term." This is direct dig at USYCA. You need to put the seeds in the ground then water and fertilize regularly and nurture it so after some years it will be beautiful tree who will give for years and years to come. USYCA is Johny Appleseed who is puting the seeds of cricket all across America and may be with good nurturing we will have bunch of fruits (American born Cricketers) playing at International level after may 10-15 years but thats the only way to grow cricket tree in USA. You will not know Johny Appleseed as you are not from here Mr. Breazley. Ask you employer USACA why they kicked out those 32 league volunteers? Look within USACA and you know how they have ruined cricket USA.

Posted by RamhanceRampersaud on (September 18, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

Folks, as an American Citizen. I am embarassed and ashamed to see these individuals celebrating their mediocore win against opponents worthy of my high school competetion. The high fives is what bothers me the most. Can you really see someone celebrating the departure of a 5 year old boy? That is exactly what these men are doing here. I would really like tosee them celebrating against the likes of Afganistan, or Holland, oh wait what about Ireland. I would like to see the like of Obrien send these USA so called boys packing. In the end, you coash, you administrator,you public relation officer are responsible for this embarassment. In Guyana, there is an old sayng: " man ah man, man nah tubaccah stick"

Posted by RamhanceRampersaud on (September 18, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

1.) work 2.) after work we try to get some practice, (yeap) other countries have their cricketers doing nothing but cricket 24 x 7 3.) work is our livelyhood and we cannot sacrifice this for trials, with no pay 4.) the amont of time it takes to travel. trials, etc can cost us our jobs 5.) USA cricket does not pay more than my job so why shold I leave to play cricket? 6.) my job covers my family health insurance, USA ricket does not 7.) if I give up thisjob and play for a few years for the USA I do not get anything after I retire, why play? 8.) why must I pay to play for the USA,I travel, I pay,I stay in hotelsI pay, I leave my job and i do not get paid 9.) i go to the game and I get abused by coaches 10.) tell me why I sholdplay for the USA? Just to say I did play for USA? it really is not the same as saying youplayed for the USA Basketball team....very different, so get on with it, you play for the USA is like I played for the under 13 school team, meaningless....

Posted by RamhanceRampersaud on (September 18, 2013, 6:54 GMT)

Delusional. I have been in the cricketing circles for 30 years and have been waiting for Potra-potties at many prominent grounds in NYC, and I still have to goin the bush....Afer30 years the Irish, the Italians, Russians and a whole hots of others have made remarkable strides in their quest for their commnities. Van Cortlandpark in NYC was taken away fro criceters to make room for the Irish and Italians...perhaps we drank too many beers and had too many fights after the games thus lost the rights to play or simply those wee just excuses to move us, the black people from this part of town. Go to Maryland, georgia, Florida, california etc and the police behave the same way towards cricketers...by- the way there are no cops after the baseball games, nor the italian soccer matches. Folks we are on the wrong side of the planet. For us to get to the right side, it will take corage,passion, and several hundred years to make cricket an American past time.

Posted by   on (September 18, 2013, 5:41 GMT)

No way Cricket is ever going to be popular in the United States.

Posted by   on (September 18, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

There is no way Cricket is going to excel in the USA. Kids in the U.S want to be Lebron James, Tom Brady, A-Rod, etc. U.S already has Baseball which is equivalent to Cricket. Only the people from the subcontinent like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and may be Caribbean people would be interested to play this game.I would rather ask the ICC to develop cricket in countries in Ireland, Scotland, Nepal, UAE, Kenya, Afghanistan, etc. Cricket would be a total failure here.

Posted by wusacricket on (September 18, 2013, 4:47 GMT)

The strength of cricket in the USA is in the individual States - we do NOT need stadiums, we need cricket grounds -we need infrastructure.

We need the USACA to work with Cities, Towns, Counties and States to provide sufficient land on which we can put cricket grounds. We need the gravitas of a national organization to establish the partnerships needed to help cricket grow at the State (and sub-State) level.

Currently it's a complete hodge-podge of small, individual groups with very little national guidance. The USACA in the past has, essentially, ignored the majority of cricket players in the USA in favor of a nepotistic-laced attempt to establish a National team.

Wake up ! Support cricket at the State level and you will see cricket grow. Then, when facilities are finally available, you will see an increase in schoolkids playing, taking up the sport of their fathers (and, hopefully, their mothers).

AZ currently has 20+ teams, but only six grounds, and land to spare. Help us.

Posted by bkrai1 on (September 18, 2013, 3:42 GMT)

Mr. Beazley is wasting his time. USACA does not even have a junior program in place and it would be a miracle if they can come up with such numbers. Just hype!! ICC needs to disband this organization

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