USA cricket February 20, 2014

ACF submits rival bid to govern US cricket


The American Cricket Federation has submitted a formal request to the ICC to recognise the ACF as a governing body for cricket in the United States in a strategic move that ACF chief executive Jamie Harrison admits may cause the ICC to suspend the USA's Associate membership for the third time in a decade. Harrison says that another suspension will allow USA to clean up its own domestic structure.

"What we're asking is for the ICC to acknowledge that there are multiple governing bodies in the United States, which is undeniable, and then to apply its own rules and constitution to that situation," Harrison told ESPNcricinfo on Wednesday. "If you read the ICC rules and look at the immediate precedent of what happened in Switzerland, the ICC has no wriggle room here."

According to the ICC guidelines for Associate Membership, "members must satisfy that they are the sole recognised governing body for cricket in the country". In 2011, Switzerland had its ICC membership suspended before their membership was removed entirely in 2012 after a rival governing body challenged the status of the Swiss Cricket Association. Previous battles waged in the USA between unrecognised governing bodies and the USA Cricket Association resulted in a pair of ICC suspensions but reconciliations were eventually achieved to allow USA to be readmitted into the ICC fold. Harrison has no intention for that this time around.

"There will be no merger," Harrison said. "We're not giving an inch. We're going to see that out to the end. We're not talking to USACA, and we're prepared for what comes down the road."

The ACF announced on Wednesday that the Commonwealth Cricket League, the largest league in America with 72 teams competing in New York City, had become the newest ACF member. It's another dent to USACA, particularly in light of their 2012 tax return revealing $3 million in debt and membership fees that were down 47% from 2011 to 2012. Harrison says that USACA's "toxic brand" makes them incapable of recovering and that they're holding back cricket in the country from developing. If the ICC recognises the ACF, Harrison believes it will open the door for American cricket to regenerate.

"Imagine you have a building site in a prime location. The only problem is that occupying the site is a burned out shell of a building. You can't begin to make something good of that site until you tear down that shell," Harrison said. "Once the site is cleared you can begin building a new edifice. Well, this is the first step. We've asked the ICC to make it possible to tear down the old structure. We understand that some people may be emotionally attached to the old structure but I'm hoping they'll look to the future and see the great plans for the new structure."

Harrison realises that there may be an initial uproar over engaging in action that may cause the ICC to suspend USA but says that the ACF purposely held off from attempting any manoeuvre late last year so as not to interfere with USA's participation at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier. USA's 15th-place finish in the event, and their earlier failure last year at World Cricket League Division Three which prevented their participation in the World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand in January, meant that USA has no ICC commitments in 2014 that they would be barred from competing in and Harrison felt that now would be the best time to take action.

"The ICC, if they act appropriately and don't drag their feet and do the obvious thing in keeping with their rules and their constitution, this can be done in a relatively short period of time," he said. "The restructuring of US cricket can be done within a year.

"It would be nice if we could separate administrative issues from opportunities for our players to play cricket and the success of our international team but those things are intertwined and welded together. If we had better administration, our international team would be more successful and right now it would be preparing to compete in another international tournament. We intend to make better administration and better results for clubs, leagues, all the way down the line but we can't start that process without taking this first step."

In August, Harrison had told ESPNcricinfo that the USA should "revoke its ICC membership." When asked on Wednesday why he was now seeking ICC recognition, Harrison answered that it isn't the ACF's objective. He believes that although it would be "a feather in the ACF's cap" to have that status, being the ICC-recognised national governing body is "not a prerequisite for success" and that the USA should look to become self-sufficient rather than depend on $300,000 in ICC funding for survival.

"With the Big Three takeover, they talked a lot about countries being self-sufficient and they're absolutely right. Countries have to be self-sufficient. The mistake we've always made in the USA is being completely dependent on ICC funding to run our programmes and our entire administration. The truth is that ICC funding should not be running your operations. You should be self-sufficient."

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 22, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    I got completely bored one day and found the Willow channel. So, I decided to watch the test match between NZ and India. I had never watched before, but got drawn in. I pretty much figured out the rules and scoring after watching for about an hour and got drawn in for the final three days.

    I was amazed at Brendan McCollum's 777 minutes at bat scoring 302 runs and setting a NZ Test record. My first match and I saw that.

    I later watched the ODI between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. That seemed to be an exciting match that came down to the wire.

    If you want it to be popular in America, you need to find a way to play the game in a day, like the ODI and switch up the Innings structure a bit.

    It's hard to watch one team at bat for several hours. Maybe have the teams switch every 10-20 overs. Give people a chance to stay excited. People go to sporting events in this country to get excited and release energy, not watch a 10 hour Ken Burns special on baseball.

  • Dummy4 on February 22, 2014, 0:20 GMT

    Cricket is far from a popular sport in the united states...We can't let cricket framework succumb b'cos of USACA's inability to get its act together...Its high time we build a true platform to develop, nurture and promote cricket talent here..GO ACF!!!

  • Jay on February 21, 2014, 17:21 GMT

    I think this is actually good for American cricket. I guess it's in their inborn nature to be fiercely capitalistic and competitive. Unlike in the rest of the world where there is a monopoly, YES I am talking about you the BIG 3. Sport should be democratic in nature and run by people who are passionate about it; not by politicians and corrupt bureaucrats who wish to turn 1 & 1 into 2. Let there be an election of sorts and may the body with the highest number of votes take over cricket governance in the USA for a certain number of years. This process should repeat forever.

  • Cricket on February 21, 2014, 17:03 GMT

    I have been following ACF very closely and results are encouraging that they execute and have open communication with cricketers. I am also excited to see ACF and USYCA join hands together. If anyone has promoted cricket in the US like none, that is USYCA. Jamie with ACF is just the right thing at this moment.

    Not sure what else can be done with US cricket with USACA already incharge for more than 60 years. Results: NONE

    My money on ACF and hope results are good within a couple years and not wait another half a century !

  • Amit on February 21, 2014, 15:47 GMT

    Dear ICC, Please save US Cricket from Gladstone Dainty and recognize ACF. USACA is not about Cricket in this country, it all about ego of Mr. Dainty which is bigger than the Cricket itself. Thank you, A Club Cricketer from the Chicago suburbs on behalf of many like me who go out and play the game as many summer weekends as they can just for the love of the game.

  • sarwat on February 21, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    I supported ACF completely. ACF is doing a great job for the cricket in the USA. My Club GTTCC and members also supported ACF, we are located in Michigan . ICC should give chance to ACF.

  • Baskar on February 21, 2014, 0:53 GMT

    If ACF truly represents the future of American Cricket, then ICC should give them a chance. The last decade has been disastrous for American cricket at the representative level and at the national level. That is a sad state to continue to be in.

  • Anura on February 20, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    We have the perfect models in NFL, NBA, MBL, and NHL running perfectly and why is this bickering when it comes to cricket. AFC seem to be in great shape under Jamie and seem to know what they are doing. USA is the biggest market for sports and if cricket can not have a piece of that pie it is a great pity. I believe NFL, NBA and MLB started of with 2 governing bodies (American and National) but subsequently brought under one roof of NFL,MLB and NBA. Why can't cricket do the same under AFC where everyone will benefit. We have to take the game to the little leagues, high schools and colleges like BB and football where we will develop talent. See how soccer has picked up in HS and even in some colleges.We can should offer scholarships at college level and send the talented people to play in the english leagues or australian grade cricket and I am sure we will have a good team in 3 years.To do all these we have to be united and unselfish for the good of the game and for the sake of players

  • Dummy4 on February 20, 2014, 19:28 GMT

    war of boards trying to outsmart each other. Not good for cricket

  • Prateek on February 20, 2014, 19:01 GMT

    Now whether recognition to ACF in place of USACA brings the benefits that every cricket lover would be looking for, or not, one thing is certain that it won't harm cricket in USA. USACA is not even a useless organization; its existence is a curse to the game of cricket in this country. Hopefully ACF gets a chance at least.

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