Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna
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USA Cricket chief executive Iain Higgins has resigned after just over two years in the role. ESPNcricinfo understands that Higgins handed in his resignation late on Sunday night.
The timing of the decision comes just days after USA Cricket announced their first ever bilateral series on home soil against a Full Member nation with a two-T20I-and-three-ODI tour by Ireland set to take place over the Christmas holidays. However, talk has been around for some time that Higgins could potentially be lured back to working for the ICC following the departure of Manu Sawnhey as CEO. Higgins is still highly regarded in Dubai where he worked from 2008 to 2019 as general counsel before taking on the dual role as chief operating officer in 2015.
Despite the suddenness of his resignation, ESPNcricinfo understands that Higgins had offered to resign on a number of occasions during his tenure due to regular clashes with members of the USA Cricket board of directors. The tumultuous nature of administrative affairs also has not ceased since USA Cricket took over as the official governing body from the expelled USA Cricket Association (USACA). USACA was banished by the ICC in 2017 with USA Cricket taking over in January 2019.
Higgins played a key role in writing the new constitution in his then role as ICC general counsel and chief operating officer prior to coming on board with USA Cricket. However, the constitution which he helped author has been a source of continuing governance issues reminiscent of the USACA era. USA Cricket has not held general elections since February 2020. A lawsuit was filed by two board members against Higgins and five other board members over the voting and membership registration processes. The suit was dismissed in July by a Colorado circuit court judge but elections have still not taken place.
The USA Men's set up also went through a rocky management transition around the time of Higgins' arrival. Pubudu Dassanayake resigned as coach just months after USA secured ODI status after an internal power struggle. Dassanyake's replacement, Kiran More, only lasted a few months before going back to commitments in India. James Pamment, who was an assistant under More, stayed on as an interim head coach beginning in October 2019 for three tours before blasting the USA Cricket administration on his way out. Former Karnataka captain and head coach J Arunkumar soon took over the men's role after Pamment.
Things appeared more stable after April when USA Cricket launched its first domestic events following the start of the Covid pandemic. The board launched its inaugural Men's 50-over Championships on Monday in Texas while events have also been held during the summer for boys Under-19s in April and girls Under-19s in August as well as women's national championships. The USA Women's team secured a first-place finish at the ICC Americas T20 World Cup Qualifier last month in Mexico while the men did the same at their corresponding event, concluding with a ten-wicket win over Bahamas in Antigua on Saturday to end the event undefeated.
Higgins played a key role in garnering support for USA's bid to co-host a major ICC event with the West Indies in the next ICC rights cycle from 2024-32, along with rallying support for cricket's inclusion in the Olympics as early as the 2028 Summer Games to be hosted in Los Angeles. He also recently helped secure USA's first title sponsor for the men's and women's national teams, Sistar Mortgage.
However, Higgins continued to face some opposition internally after national team players and domestic participants raised concerns over the fact that all players had to pay their own way to travel to participate in the USA Cricket Men's 50-over National Championships. The same was true earlier in the year for the U-19 National Championships, further highlighting financial concerns with the organization that were also raised during the most recent AGM in May.