Gladstone Dainty won re-election by a 12 to two margin over Ram Varadarajan on Saturday to remain president of the USA Cricket Association. As predicted by observers, all four incumbent candidates won, as did Kenwyn Williams, who was running for the post of executive secretary. Dainty, a Maryland resident, had been re-elected in USACA elections in 2008 by an 18-15 margin over California-based Varadarajan in another controversial vote.
Dainty's margin of victory in this election is in stark contrast to the mood of league presidents and administrators just six months ago. On October 16, more than 30 national cricket administrators, including 13 league presidents, participated in a conference call to voice their dissatisfaction with how cricket was being governed in the country.
During the call, Eastern American Cricket Association (NY) president Rudy Persaud expressed he had "no confidence in the USACA president right now and the two guys who he put there as first vice-president and second vice-president." Off the 13 leagues whose presidents participated in the conference call, 12 were eventually barred from voting in USACA regional and national elections.
Only 15 out of 47 member leagues were deemed eligible to vote in the election after the USACA board of directors voted at a meeting in February to disenfranchise 32 leagues based on the results of a member leagues compliance audit conducted by Austin, Texas attorney Robert Chance. It is believed that only 14 votes were polled in the ballots for president and first vice-president because Surendranath Gandavaram, president of the Atlanta Georgia Cricket Conference, stated on March 31 that he was abstaining from voting in the election in protest over the decision to bar the 32 leagues from participating.
The only close call was in the race for second vice-president where Rafey Syed of Chicago took six votes to Ahmed Jeddy's five while Hemant Buch and Mahammad Qureshi polled two votes each. Michael Gale of Austin, Texas won the race for first vice-president by taking nine votes while challengers Shahid Ahmed and Krish Prasad took two votes each and Qureshi one. John Thickett of Austin, Texas easily defeated Gangaram Singh by a 12 to three margin to remain USACA Treasurer.
Williams, a New Jersey resident, took the position for executive secretary by polling 10 votes to John Aaron's five. On March 7, Williams sent out a campaign email which stated in part, "I have 10 iPad 3's for the first 10 people (and by people I mean 10 of the 15 league presidents that can vote - obviously)." Saturday morning, Williams sent out a campaign message via Twitter which stated, "Election day in USA cricket! Vote Williams or die!"
Another piece of news to come out on Saturday from a newly established USACA Twitter feed stated that Nabeel Ahmed had been named interim chief executive of USACA although a formal press release had yet to be posted about it on the USACA web site. Nabeel resigned from his position as first vice-president of the USACA board in November 2010 and then announced that same month that he was going to run against Dainty in the next USACA elections.
Nabeel was a sharp critic of Dainty's practices over the following year, but his campaign changed tack late in 2011 when he began sending out a string of emails urging stakeholders to unite. He voiced his disapproval of Varadarajan's threats to sue USACA, stating that it would be damaging to USACA and to Cricket Holdings America, the joint entity between USACA and New Zealand Cricket. On March 6, he urged stakeholders to respect the results of Chance's audit and to support the elections with just 15 leagues participating. He mysteriously dropped out of the presidential race with no formal announcement and his name was not on the final voting ballot.
The position has been vacant since Don Lockerbie was fired in November 2010, just a week after Nabeel had resigned from the board. No advertisement was ever posted for the position.
Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey