USACA's changes 'seriously undermine' their chances - Richardson

USA men, women and U-19 squad members took part in a specialist skills camp in Texas Peter Della Penna

ICC chief executive David Richardson has delivered scathing criticism of the leadership of the USA Cricket Association (USACA) in a strongly-worded letter outlining the reasons for the ICC Board's decision to table a resolution for expelling the board. The USACA is in danger of being expelled as an Associate Member of the ICC at the annual conference in June. Richardson also warned the USACA that if it follows through on its threats to commence legal action in an attempt to block or overturn an eventual expulsion, "you should be in no doubt that the ICC will defend its position vigorously."

The letter from Richardson was addressed to USACA president Gladstone Dainty days after the recent ICC Board meeting in Dubai in which, the chief executive said, there was a 13-0 vote to table the resolution for expulsion, with the West Indies Cricket Board choosing to abstain from voting on the matter. Richardson said that the USACA's refusal to ratify an ICC-approved constitution was the last straw among the issues they did not remedy as laid out in the 39 terms and conditions for reinstatement.

"If USACA had adopted the ICC-approved constitution, thereby creating a sustainable governance framework that the entire US cricket community could unite behind, then perhaps USACA's other failures, including its failure to satisfy the other reinstatement conditions, could have been forgiven," Richardson wrote. "But without the ICC-approved constitution to offer hope of a new beginning, what is left is a string of unsatisfied reinstatement conditions, which are serious enough when considered in isolation, but when taken together are more than enough, in the view of the ICC Board, to warrant the proposal to bring USACA's membership in the ICC to an end."

Several elements of the constitution the USACA approved at its April 8 SGM rankled with Richardson and the ICC. The USACA version would allow the incumbent board to remain in power until March, rather than expediting elections for September, and the USACA also insisted on overseeing their own elections rather than having outside oversight from ICC Americas, ICC Legal & Audit plus an independent auditor. In reply, Richardson said that "is clearly not justified given the sorry history of previous elections to the USACA board."

The incumbent USACA board also wanted to maintain decision-making authority over who would be allowed to vote, something Richardson said was severely problematic given the board's history of election controversy. As a result, they could not see how such governance would bring the US cricket community together.

"The ICC Board considers that the changes that USACA has made to the ICC-approved constitution seriously undermine, if not destroy altogether, USACA's chances of uniting that community," Richardson wrote. "Far from offering the prospect of a fresh start under the guidance of an independent leader free from any political affiliation and history, the amended constitution will be perceived by the many disaffected members of the US cricket community as perpetuating the power and influence of the incumbent USACA board and current USACA members, who lost the trust and confidence of their peers many years ago. It is the view of the ICC Board that the wounds of the past will not be healed, they will be perpetuated; and the ICC Board's imperative of uniting the US cricket community behind the 'new' USACA will be entirely undermined."

Richardson said the USACA's current membership base represented a minority interest in stakeholders, making them unfit to continue as the national governing body. He also criticised them for failing to provide evidence refuting allegations that "ghost leagues" had been given member status in order to influence victories for incumbent candidates in previous elections, and highlighted concerns that the same practice had been carried out at the April 8 SGM.

"USACA appears to have done little to extend its membership base beyond its traditional power base of leagues in New York, New Jersey and Florida," Richardson wrote. "USACA appears to have done little or nothing in terms of development programs, either at national or at regional level, whether for men's senior cricket, for youth cricket, for female cricket, for coach/umpire training, or otherwise.

"There have been allegations of serious improprieties tainting each of the past five elections to the USACA board of directors (in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2015), including repeated and persistent allegations of granting of votes to 'ghost leagues', in order to keep the incumbents in power.

"One of the conditions fixed in 2015 by the ICC Board for reinstatement of USACA to ICC membership was that it produce evidence refuting these allegations. Despite repeated requests, however, the USACA board has failed to provide any such evidence, without any good reason or excuse. In such circumstances, it is not difficult to understand why there is apparently so little trust and confidence in USACA among the US cricket community."

Richardson went on to criticise the behaviour of USACA's board members for their unwillingness to meet in good faith to rectify the litany of issues. He specifically called out the USACA's leadership for its response to the ICC-approved constitution by "openly disparaging the integrity of the ICC Board, myself as ICC CEO and other members of ICC management (including describing the ICC-approved constitution as 'the apartheid document', imposed by the ICC 'so they can discriminate against blacks')."

Contrary to what the USACA communicated in messages to its membership base about what was needed to be done to lift the suspension, Richardson said a host of other issues were a cause for concern. He pointed out that the board failed to stop USACA vice-president Owen Grey from initiating legal action last year on behalf of USACA in an attempt to stop Caribbean Premier League matches from going forward in Florida. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed but Richardson said the ICC was forced to accumulate unnecessary legal fees of its own to fight the action in court.

"Ultimately, it does not matter why the US cricket community has been so fractured and disunited," Richardson wrote. "This state of affairs is unacceptable and must be remedied, whatever the reasons."