ICC holds US cricket meeting in Chicago
The International Cricket Council are taking the situation in US cricket very seriously. Since the suspension of USACA in July and the leak of a list of over 30 reinstatement conditions, a local advisory group has been set up, and a series of meetings with various stakeholders have taken place.
Most recently, last week 85 stakeholders gathered at a "town hall" style meeting at a hotel near Chicago O'Hare airport. The attendees were addressed by various ICC Americas staff, including regional development manager Ben Kavenagh as well as global development manager Tim Anderson and ICC chief executive Dave Richardson.
The ICC described the event as "successful". However, whilst the boards of the American Cricket Federation (ACF) and Cricket Council USA (CCUSA) were there, as was former ACF CEO and USYCA chief Jamie Harrison, who now heads up the Center for American Cricket (CAC) in the increasing alphabet soup that is US cricket, the USACA board was notable by their absence. Perhaps that's why it was successful.
Those involved with some USACA leagues were there, and the board, for their part, says they weren't invited. ICC, of course, denies this.
I won't bore readers with long details of what was said at the meeting (the dreamcricket.com website has a good summary for those so inclined) except to point out that Dave Richardson said that the ICC wants the USA in the 2020 World Twenty20 and the 2019 World Cup. Whilst the former isn't completely out of the question - they only just missed out in the recent qualifier - the latter seems highly unlikely.
The USA were last year relegated to Division Four of the World Cricket League. To think that they could go past the 14 associates ranked above them, plus a full member, seems most bizarre. But then the ICC haven't been above giving the USA a helping hand in qualifiers in the past - they were given wild card entries into qualifiers for the 2004 Champions Trophy and the 2010 World Twenty20.
It is, of course, good to see the ICC doing this. Two years ago when Tonga were suspended, and ICC East Asia Pacific representative admitted in an interview on New Zealand radio that they were getting no support during their suspension. They were subsequently expelled in 2014. Will Morocco - also suspended in July - also receive this sort of support? It seems unlikely - the ICC really wants cricket in the US to work.
But that hope of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup betrays something else - the lack of long term planning. Mentions were made during the meeting of the growth of soccer in the US. But developing soccer was a long term issue that started in the 1970s and has only recently come to fruition. Major League Soccer - launched in the mid 1990s - lost $350 million in the first 10 years, and that had much more solid foundations than US cricket currently does. Long term planning is needed for US cricket, not overly ambitious goals of World Cup Qualification within four years, for a World Cup that has made it harder for teams such as the USA to qualify in the first place.
The aftermath of the meeting has seen two resignations from the USACA board. Vice president Faizan Janjua resigned on Wednesday, telling Cricinfo that "There was no real effort to steer the organisation in the right direction." He said that USACA were unwilling to answer questions from the ICC, and that he felt they would not be reinstated from their suspension.
Janjua's resignation was followed by that of Central West regional representative Lovkesh Kalia on Thursday. He also cited a lack of organisation. He said that he thinks USACA can overcome its current administrative strife, but has his doubts about whether it can be done under the direction of current president Gladstone Dainty.
As ever, it's interesting times in US cricket. What's next? It's anyone's guess.