Andy Pick resigns as USACA High Performance Manager
Andy Pick has resigned as USACA High Performance Manager after just two months on the job. The abrupt end to Pick's tenure comes in the wake of a USA men's national team training camp in Florida from October 18-20, during which a series of incidents occurred that Pick says were not in line with how a professional organisation should operate.
At the top of the list of his reasons for stepping down was the unhappiness with the squad selection process for the USA team that will be traveling to the UAE next month for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. This included a petition from the USACA to the ICC to change two players in the squad after the final list of 15 players had already been submitted by the original tournament deadline of October 15.
"Following the camp and a number of other issues before and after, culminating with the changing of the final squad after its submission, I felt unable to continue working for USACA," Pick wrote in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by ESPNcricinfo. "In my brief time there, it became obvious that certain people are not ready for change and structure and are determined to maintain control even if it holds back cricket in the USA and I was not prepared to sacrifice my personal and professional reputation working for these people."
Prior to his role with the USACA, Pick had been working full-time as the ICC Americas Regional High Performance Manager out of Toronto. In taking on the role with the USACA, Pick was to split his duties part-time working out of USACA's Florida headquarters and part-time working for the ICC Americas but he will now resume full-time duties back in Toronto with the ICC Americas office. When contacted by ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday, Pick said he had accepted the position with the USACA because he believed the organisation was ready to become professional but that his brief experiences after being hired indicated otherwise.
"I think earlier on in the summer, there was a feeling around USA Cricket that people were ready for the change," Pick told ESPNcricinfo. "This external review was going on and I think people thought that with its recommendations they hoped things would move forward and that this would be agreed or voted on at the AGM, and it still might be. Who knows, I don't know how the vote is going to go."
"One thing is for certain. There was more confidence earlier in the year when this project was started. There was an air of confidence that things were going to move forward and with the right support Darren [Beazley, USACA chief executive] would be able to get things moving and that's not been the case. There are still people holding things back and affecting the way that things need to be done."
The tipping point for Pick were the events that took place in Fort Lauderdale just over a week ago at a USA player preparation camp ahead of the tour to the UAE. The USACA had submitted its final 15-man roster for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier to the ICC and had already informed those players who were going on tour. After the weekend camp though, a request was made to make two changes to the squad.
According to team sources, those changes were to take Fahad Babar and Ritesh Kadu out of the team in favour of Imran Awan and Barrington Bartley, neither of whom were originally invited to the camp. However, Awan paid for his own plane ticket to come down to the camp. Despite not playing in any of the three trial games against Bermuda, he impressed USA coach Robin Singh enough with his bowling in the nets that Singh, according to team sources, requested for the changes to be made. USACA applied to the ICC for a special exemption to make the two changes, which were accepted.
"After having decided on 15 and having brought them down to Fort Lauderdale, to then decide on the Sunday night after the camp that they wanted to make two changes and leave two people out, that was it," Pick said. "That's just no way of going and you can't treat players like that ultimately, not players who you want to go out and give their all, take time off work, leave their families behind. You treat them like that but then expect them to be fully committed to the cause. That's just not right.
"I've worked with some of the best players in the world. I know how you go and how you treat players and how selection is done. There has to be some sort of a process. I feel I failed because I was hoping we could get some sort of a process in place and things would be better and it's not happened ultimately. That was probably the final straw really, when they wanted to tell people who were going [to the UAE] and had been told they were going and had kits ordered that now they weren't going."
Awan was not the only player to show up to the camp without his travel being arranged and paid for by the USACA. According to sources, as many as six other players, mostly from the Washington, D.C., area where USA team manager Shoaib Ahmed and USACA president Gladstone Dainty reside, were encouraged to come to the camp despite not being part of the official 15-man USA roster that was submitted to the ICC for next month's tour to the UAE. Pick was never informed that these players would be showing up in Florida and does not know who invited them.
"Your guess is as good as mine," Pick said. "That was another one of the issues. When people come and introduce themselves to me in the hotel and I'm not expecting them to be here…. There's no process. There's people off on their own doing their own thing. I'm trying to organise food and transport and all these different things for certain numbers. USACA doesn't have a lot of money. If we've paid for 17 meals, then I want 17 meals, I don't want 20 people sitting down and eating because that's another $50 a day that we've got to find from somewhere. There has to be some sort of structure and there isn't."
Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey