ICC sees end to warring factions as key to progress in USA
Peter Della Penna
Tim Anderson, the ICC global development manager, believes there needs to be a drastic change in mindset from administrators in the USA if cricket is to ever become professionally run in the country. Anderson recently toured the USA as part of an ICC task force headed by the chief executive Dave Richardson to produce a comprehensive report on the state of cricket in the country.
The report will be presented next week at the ICC annual conference in Barbados, and Anderson felt it will be hard for the sport to move forward as long as a battle for control continues between the USA Cricket Association (USACA) and the American Cricket Federation (ACF).
"For us it's not about one or the other," Anderson told ESPNcricinfo. "That's not what this process is. But we just don't think in principle it's a healthy situation for the development of the sport for a relatively large proportion of people to be aligned to one group, a relatively large proportion to be aligned to another group, and a relatively large proportion not giving much care or thought to either of them and then just going on playing.
"It doesn't provide an environment where leadership can come in and take the game to the next level. You're not going to do that in this environment. Philosophically, that needs to be changed if cricket is going to take a step in this country."
USACA was put on administrative notice at the 2014 ICC annual conference in Melbourne for being in violation of Associate governance statute 3.1, which at the time said that the respective ICC member must be the sole governing body in the country. The statute was amended in January to state that a member no longer had to be the sole governing body, but had to prove it was the one "responsible for the administration, management and development of cricket in the country."
USACA has also fallen in conflict with the ICC for its failure to hold elections on time, and for not having a full-time paid chief executive since the resignation of Darren Beazley in March 2014. However, Anderson kept mum when asked whether the report was being organised in preparation of a third possible administrative suspension for USACA since 2005.
"What we want to find out is what is happening in the USA in cricket," Anderson said. "That's the general sentiment. If as part of that process, the ICC board then takes the report and says, 'This guy is good and this guy is not so good,' that'll be a decision they have to come to.
"The bottom line for us is that USACA is our member, there is another association that has a large number of leagues in the country that is also doing things and we want to speak to everybody. So our thought process is not about get rid of one and bring in the other one. That's not really what it's about at all."
As part of the information gathering process, Anderson said the ICC has facilitated face-to-face and phone interviews with more than 100 stakeholders, including various league administrators from both USACA and ACF. The ICC has also sought the opinions of leagues which are not aligned with either group, as well as of players and coaches, as part of an all-encompassing survey.
Anderson denied the ICC's task force initiative was spurred by USACA's failure to ratify sweeping governance reforms at the November 2014 AGM which had been championed by himself and Beazley. As part of the proposed reforms, term limits would have been introduced for USACA's executive board while the board's voting power would have been cut in half and redistributed to independent directors based on recommendations from a review conducted by TSE consulting.
"Governance reform is difficult," Anderson said. "The ICC is a good example in terms of the process of the Woolf Report. Ultimately it was decided that some of those things were good and should be changed and some of those things wouldn't be changed.
"Obviously you still have to go through a process of consulting your stakeholders in whatever organization you're with and those stakeholders and members have to determine whether they want those changes or not. I think the same thing has happened here."
One of USACA's main governance problems has been their failure to hold elections on time according to the USACA constitution, both in 2011 and in 2014. The most recent delays have meant the ICC has levied financial penalties against USACA in the form of withholding their quarterly Associate funding grants.
Anderson said the ICC's interest in commissioning the task force report now, as opposed to three years ago in the wake of the delayed controversial elections which saw 32 out of 47 voting members disenfranchised, was that the ICC's Full Member representatives have recently developed greater interest in Associate development.
"The chairman of the ICC is now the chairman of the development committee and there are three Full Member directors on the development committee," he said. "Previously, nearly all members of the development committee were Associate and Affiliate member representatives or other stakeholders but not full members of the ICC.
"That's really positive that that's happening. I think what has manifested itself out of that process is even though a lot of the Full Members on the board have been aware of the importance of US cricket, I don't think it has really hit their radar that cricket could be doing more here and therefore I think that was the spark to answer your question about 'why now', that our board has greater interest than it had in the past which I think is really positive."
In a letter from ICC chairman N Srinivasan to the USACA board of directors dated January 28, Srinivasan outlines several areas in which the ICC claims USACA has failed to meet its membership obligations and is in danger of being suspended. Aside from delayed elections and a failure to pay back a $200,000 loan to the ICC, Srinivasan blasted USACA for its "failure to produce an internationally competitive and properly prepared men's team."
In the time since, USACA canceled a pre-tournament preparation camp in Jamaica ahead of the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 in Indianapolis in May. A subsequent camp scheduled for June 19-21 in Jamaica to prepare USA for the World T20 Qualifier has also been ditched. As a result, five players have taken it upon themselves to fund their own way to Barbados and train with Barbados Tridents in a personal effort to get prepared for the qualifier. Anderson said the task force review will include a more in-depth look into why USA has not delivered consistently positive results on the field.
"With all the opportunities that are available to ICC members to play international cricket, it would be our hope that a country that we think has a huge amount of potential like the USA would be going up as opposed to going down," Anderson said.
"I don't think there's any doubt that we'd all like to see the USA cricket team playing better. At the same time, we don't necessarily have a great understanding of what happens within the high performance programs or preparation and selection and these types of things that might impact on the team not going so well."
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Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna