USA cricket November 8, 2014

Baker blasts USACA, demands changes

Former USA captain Orlando Baker has criticised the USA Cricket Association administration, saying USACA president Gladstone Dainty and coach Robin Singh are responsible for USA's recent relegation to Division Four of the World Cricket League. Baker, 35, says USA's players are treated "like they're in Guantanamo Bay" and the team's on-field fortunes will continue to suffer unless new leadership takes charge.

Baker captained USA last year to an 8-0 record at the ICC Americas Division One T20 tournament in Florida but was not considered for the Division Three tournament last month in Malaysia tour due to a recent back injury, a USACA selector told ESPNcricinfo. Baker initially approached ESPNcricinfo to speak prior to the Division Three on the condition that his comments not be made public until after the tournament so as not to become a distraction to his team-mates. However, Baker remained firm in his views when speaking to ESPNcricinfo at the conclusion of Division Three.

"For me to continue playing for the US, there have to be a lot of changes," Baker told ESPNcricinfo in an interview following Division Three. "I don't think I can continue like this. There have to be a lot of changes. Changes in preparation, changes in coaching, administration.

"Somebody has to go there [criticise USACA] and it's right that it be a senior person," Baker said. "I don't expect the younger guys to do it. I think it's been going on for too long. People have been sugar-coating and covering it up. Cricket is going down tour by tour. Since I joined the US team under Dainty as president, tell me what progress do you see? I don't see any progress from USACA, from the head.

"If you fail to prepare you prepare to fail," Baker added. "You can't be coming into a high-profile tournament with only two days of preparation when you get into Malaysia. For players young and old, there's no structure. From a USACA perspective, they don't care."

Baker's chief gripe with the Dainty-led USACA administration is the lack of funding spent on player preparation and development compared to the much larger sums of money USACA has spent on lawyers to defend the organisation in legal battles over the past several years.

As for Singh, Baker alleged the coach resorted to intimidation tactics that are counterproductive and wind up breaking down team morale rather than serving to motivate players, a sentiment shared by other members of the USA men's team who were contacted by ESPNcricinfo but did not wish to be quoted.

"The disrespect that Robin Singh brings to a changing room can kill a team no matter how good the team is and no matter how big a coach is," Baker said. "You don't talk to a grown man like they're kids. That's what Robin carry. He bullies the players to play his brand of cricket. He can't bully me, he can't bully a Tim Allen, a Barrington Bartley because we're from the same culture and we don't take certain disrespect. We will not take it so he knows who to pick his fights with."

Baker also claimed that players have been unnerved by Singh openly calling out individuals in front of the team rather than doing it in private conversation to avoid any embarrassment. One incident that stands out for Baker, and has been corroborated to ESPNcricinfo by multiple USA players, was a confrontation between Singh and vice-captain Timroy Allen in the USA change room at the innings break of a warm-up match against Nepal in Abu Dhabi ahead of last year's World T20 Qualifier.

According to Baker and other players, Singh was unhappy with the lengths Allen bowled in the final over of the Nepal innings, during which Allen took a wicket but also conceded a four and a six. When Allen came off the field, he was scolded by Singh in front of the team, sparking a heated confrontation - audible to members of the other team - in which Singh allegedly told Allen to leave the tour before the team manager eventually intervened. Baker characterised the scene as "almost World War III".

Baker says his own relationship with Singh has deteriorated to the point where he will no longer play for the coach. Upon leaving the UAE tour in November with a ligament injury in his right ankle, Baker says he was heading downstairs from his room in the team hotel to get a ride to the airport when Singh joined him in the elevator. According to Baker, the two rode the elevator in silence down to the lobby and the moment still stings Baker nearly a year later.

"I never forget that night," Baker said. "How can you tell me you have US cricket at heart? Show me what has Robin Singh done? [Clayton] Lambert took us from Division Five to Division Three and he was pushing the side because he stood up and talked to Mr. Dainty."

ESPNcricinfo reached out to both Dainty and Singh but requests for a comment in response to Baker went unreturned.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on November 9, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    Every time I read an article about USA cricket I laugh. I can't believe anyone thinks there's a chance of any real progress in this country. what is the plan? over the hill expats or grooming their young sons to develop domestically in leagues no on knows of or cares about. rugby doesn't have a realistic chance to become big here and for USA to become globally competitive and that's with a much better setup. how in the world is cricket going to thrive. Most Yankees don't know cricket is even played here.

  • Baskar on November 9, 2014, 10:47 GMT

    It's good that a senior player in Baker has spoken out. Unlike Baker, most players just seem to be mostly into getting picked for the national side which is why they continue to keep quiet so as to not rock the unstable selection boat. As someone said "sports dont build character, they reveal it." Quite apt.

  • Prasad on November 9, 2014, 0:48 GMT

    Mr. Baker comes out with his statements now after he is over the hill, c'mon better sense should prevail. Are you planning to run for USACA presidency? Most of the USA cricket associations know about Mr. Dainty and his cronies for over 10 years now. What have they done to support Cricket in USA? We all know the state of affairs with WICB, and cricket associations in USA should consider before electing next president. The old adage is " if you do the same thing over and over again you will get the same result" . Please make your vote count in the interest of Cricket. Please recognize Dainty and cronies are not interested in development of Cricket.

  • Sanjay on November 8, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    Ah yes, the ole "it's all the fault of the administrators and the useless coaches" excuse. USA have been dire long before Dainty or Robin Singh came along. As for respect, it's a 2-way street, we don't know what instructions were given and whether the players concerned even tried to follow them. USA has plenty of players from a culture that just sawWI players walk out of the Indian tour, they think they're the bees knees.

    Maybe Baker can reel in one of his mates as a coach, everyone can then get along. I somehow doubt the performances will improve, if history is anything to go by. You've just been handed your derriere by little Nepal.

    The only way USA will become a force - and they can - is if they move away from 3rd rate expats and start getting home grown Americans involved.

  • Amit on November 8, 2014, 18:34 GMT

    Out first President George Washington quit after serving only two terms despite his immense popularity. USACA president should learn from the example set by our nation's first president.

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2014, 17:37 GMT

    Its a shame that the usaca adminisitration still continues despite all the mis management. I think being as an associate member being under the west indies board based on proximity is a bad idea. They should let bcci who has enormous wealth to sponsor usaca with a new charter and management to take this forward. t20 will be an instant hit with the local americans for sure!!!! ICC pl intervene to save the game in the U S.

    All cricket lovers in the u s pl respond so ICC can hear us!!!

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    I don't think Orlando Baker has said anything that those of us who has been around US cricket don't already know. However, he just reinforced it. Thanks, Orlando, for being brave enough to make this public. I am waiting to see if any more of the senior players will do the same.

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