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May 6, 2014
The official governing body of cricket in the USA could be facing suspension from the ICC after seeing its tenuous grip on control of the sport in the nation slip further.
Under ICC rules, Associate membership is dependent upon a board proving that "they are the sole recognised governing body for cricket in the country." But dissatisfaction with USACA, the official board, has seen around a third of the country's senior hard-ball leagues sign up to the rival organisation, the American Cricket Federation (ACF) instead. Switzerland was suspended from the ICC in 2012 in similar circumstances.
To further weaken USACA's position, their chief executive, Darren Beazley has recently quit with frustration at the board's failure to accept governance reform being a contributing factor. The organisation is believed to be around $3m in debt and if the ICC withdraw their funding - currently believed to be around $400,000 a year - it is hard to see how USACA could survive.
Beazley resigned after 14 months in the job as he was unable to persuade USACA to accept independent board members - a policy that would have involved some existing board members resigning - and competency based appointments. Furthermore, he backed limited-term appointments to the board and introducing player representation.
High performance manager, Andy Pick, also resigned recently citing political interference in his selection and development plans. Neither he nor Beazley have currently been replaced.
USACA had hoped to boost interest and funding by attracting the Caribbean Premier League to stage some games in the country. But while there is support from the West Indies Cricket Board for the idea of exploiting the interest from the large Afro-Caribbean community in the US, any commercial organisation is likely to be uncomfortable about dealing with an organisation burdened by debt and with such doubts about their governance. USACA are also among the partners in Cricket Holdings America; a limited liability company that was established amid lofty claims to stage T20 leagues in the country. It has instead merely accrued large debts.
While the ICC could, in the long term, consider backing the ACF, there is likely to be some reluctance to set a precedent by switching support to a rival group. In an ideal world, the ICC would probably want the ACF and USACA to join forces for the betterment of cricket in America. At present it seems some individuals in both organisations are more interested in personal aggrandisement or score settling.
In USACA's favour is the fact that the ICC have a number of more pressing priorities. While the failure to exploit the American market remains a frustration, it could be that the ICC, beset by other issues, might allow the matter to slide for a while. USACA could ask for extra time to reorganise themselves, too, and are due to stage elections in the coming months. Quite what would change that could not have been changed before remains unclear.
USACA have twice before been suspended by the ICC. In 2005 and 2007 the ICC took the action due to governance issues. Then, as now, the president of USACA was Gladstone Dainty. Appointed in 2003, Dainty has gained many critics over the years. His survival qualities, however, remain beyond question.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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