Julian Hunte: commands a great deal of respect from US cricketers
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In yet another display of the obduracy that has become endemic to its activities, the USACA Cricket Association (USACA) trotted out a so-called 'final' version of a constitution that ICC had requested over a year ago. In doing so, it managed to ignore one salient fact; a redraft of the old constitution had been prepared and submitted to USACA in December 2006.
The so-called 'new' version which is now being paraded before bemused US cricketers is the same patchwork quilt of contradictions and inconsistencies that USACA's critics have been complaining about for the past three years. Not a word has been changed, no criticisms answered, no fundamental issues addressed. Why this document should ever have been exhumed is beyond comprehension. Is it, as some cynics suggest, the USACA's idea of a joke? If so, no one is laughing.
The beginnings of this latest fiasco can be traced back to mid-2006 when, under the insistence of ICC, a Constitution Review Committee was established by USACA under the chairmanship of John Wainwright. By all accounts, the Constitution Committee was making steady progress in its appointed tasks. But the USACA executive suddenly decided to take matters into its own hands. The committee was sidelined, an ad hoc group took over, and wrote the document that is being presented today.
This constitution had been posted on the USACA website without any fanfare, and was quickly removed in the face of mounting criticism of its inadequacies and shortcomings.
Unfortunately for USACA, copies of the document had already been circulating among US cricket activists. After failing to get a word from USACA on what was going on, volunteer teams of US cricketers worked long hours to produce a complete re-draft of the USACA constitution and a set of formal amendments to take care of inconsistencies and shortcomings. This was completed well within ICC's original deadlines, and the documents were formally submitted to all concerned.
So there are now two constitutions to consider -- the official version put forward by USACA, and an authoritative re-draft which seeks to replace the old.
The question now is who is to decide which version should be placed before ICC?
Under the present scenario, the one to decide (or, at any rate, recommend) the choice to ICC is Chris Dehring, who was specifically assigned the task by ICC. He will undoubtedly be assisted by Sir Julian Hunte, the incoming president of the West Indies Cricket Board, who has lived in New York and has a long history with US cricket. Both of them command a great deal of respect from US cricketers, and there is hope that they will be able to pull together all the US factions to work for the common good.
Yet there are lingering apprehensions that things may not go quite as smoothly. Many of these are voiced by Asians who have rapidly expanded their participation in US cricket; they point out, with some justification, that all members of the USACA executive and a majority of the USACA board are from the Caribbean, and relations between Asian and Caribbean cricketers have recently been under considerable strain.
As long as ICC continues to exercise its control over US cricket policies, they think, there is hope of just representation for Asians. But a concern is that as soon as ICC declares victory, packs its bags and leaves, they feel, the USACA executive Board will again re-assert its control over US cricket, and the Asians will be left out in the cold.
And so it goes, the merry-go-round of US cricket politics which may be on the final spins of its three-year carnival ride. One can hope this will be the case. The alternative would be nothing less than a catastrophe for US cricket.
Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA