The ICC has announced a seven-man local advisory panel in the USA whose aim is to form a meaningful strategy for the future promotion and development of cricket in the country. The announcement comes in the wake of the USA Cricket Association's Associate membership being suspended at the ICC Annual Conference in June.
At the time of the suspension, ICC chief executive David Richardson stated that cricket in the country was "fragmented" and that the only way for the sport to move forward was for the warring factions, most notably USACA and the American Cricket Federation, to come together. In a sign of that potentially becoming a reality, ACF chairman Jagan Jagannathan and USACA liaison Dr Vincent Adams were two of the seven people who have been added to the advisory panel, which will be under the direction of ICC head of global development Tim Anderson.
Former ACF chief executive Jamie Harrison remained staunchly against any reunification of the ACF and USACA. Most of the ACF's member leagues are formerly USACA members who split away in the fallout of the controversial 2012 USACA general election, when two thirds of member leagues were barred from voting. Jagannathan's presence on the advisory panel is an indication that the ACF's hardline stance has softened since Harrison's resignation in May.
Adams was a former member of the ACF's advisory board until he decided to run for president against Gladstone Dainty in the USACA general elections, which took place in March. After losing to Dainty, Adams was appointed to a USACA liaison committee whose aim was to rectify issues raised by the ICC at the June 2014 ICC Annual Conference in hopes of avoiding suspension.
Two other members of the panel, former USACA board member Brian Walters and USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville, were both part of USACA's governance review committee established in February 2013. That committee was formed in conjunction with TSE Consulting's governance reform recommendations for a new USACA constitution - one which would have set term limits for the current board and cut its power by 50% - that was ultimately never passed. Walters resigned from the USACA board in March 2014 over frustration from lack of progress in governance reforms, a week after the resignation of former chief executive Darren Beazley.
The TSE report also recommended athlete representation on a USACA board under a new constitution. The ICC announced that its own USA advisory panel included Usman Shuja, who recently retired as USA's all-time leading wicket-taker in 50-over cricket in a national team career stretching from 2006 to 2014. Shuja, 36, has an MBA from Northwestern University's prestigious Kellogg School of Management and is now working as a vice president of sales and business development for Texas-based startup company SparkCognition.
The other two names on the advisory panel are Jim Isch, formerly of the NCAA, and Patrick Sandusky, chief communications and public affairs officer of the US Olympic Committee.
Isch worked for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) from 1998 through 2015, the last five years as the NCAA's chief operating officer before retiring early this year. He also served as interim president after the death of Myles Brand in September 2009 until current president Mark Emmert took over in October 2010. According to sources, the ICC initially came into contact with Isch in October 2013 during former ICC president Alan Isaac's trip to Indianapolis to evaluate the progress of the Indianapolis World Sports Park complex.
The NCAA is headquartered in Indianapolis and it is understood that the ICC views the city's multi-sport base - the NFL's Colts, NBA's Pacers, minor league baseball and soccer franchises also call the city home - as an attractive launching pad for professional administration and development of cricket in the country. It's one reason why the upcoming ICC Americas Cricket Combine was designated for Indianapolis instead of other potential venues and a sign that USACA's headquarters might be shifted there from a currently rented office space in Lake Worth, Florida.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna