USACA issue update on 100 day plan
It's sometimes hard to know whether or not we're meant to take the United States of America Cricket Association seriously. At times they seem like a satire of incompetent cricket administration.
Nowhere is this hilarity more apparent than in their press release updating their 100 day plan. This 100 day plan was published 24 weeks ago - you don't need to be Duckworth or Lewis to work out that is more than 100 days ago - and yet they are only eight weeks into the plan.
So obviously it's another 6 and a bit weeks to go then? Well not quite, as this 100 day plan lasts 28 weeks - 196 days to save you reaching for a calculator - almost twice as long as 100 days.
Another bizarre entry in the press release is the claim that the USACA will hold a national men's tournament 75 days from the date of the press release. The date of the press release was 5th October, and 75 days after that is the week before Christmas - that well known period of good cricket playing weather in the Northern hemisphere.
Whilst there are parts of the United States where it is possible to play cricket at that time of year - the Arizona Cricket Association runs an October to March season for example - the majority of leagues are well out of season and wouldn't be well prepared for any sort of national tournament.
Of course given that by the USACA calendar 100 days is 28 weeks, perhaps 75 days means 21 weeks?
A much firmer date is given for the selection of a new CEO to replace the long since departed Don Lockerbie. The organisation claims to have received "well over 100 applicants" and they intend to have selected the final candidate by 19th October.
A governance review is scheduled to be completed by 25th October, but they have received only one response to a consultation. Given that the people currently in charge are mostly the same bunch - Gladstone Dainty in particular - that saw the USA twice suspended from the ICC, any governance review that doesn't recommend their dismissal is unlikely to have been correctly carried out.
The press release has a section headed "ESPN" which refers to the fact that the World Twenty20 was televised on ESPN 3 in the US, and proudly points out that they mentioned it on their website. Of course the coverage had absolutely nothing to do with USACA.
The same section refers to the planned hiring of a communications consultant and plans to carry out a review of media relations, and this is well needed given their current ways of dealing with the media.
Prominent US cricket journalist Peter Della Penna - who writes for the aforementioned ESPN as well as contributing the US entry to the Wisden Almanack - certainly doesn't have a friend in new USACA secretary Kenwyn Williams.
In a tirade on his personal Facebook page, Williams said that Della Penna would be prevented from talking to "any USACA player, coach, manager or administrator" and suggested that he changes his profession or starts writing about "Major League Fishing". (I've checked, and yes it is a real organisation - and one with a TV deal too, unlike USACA!) Media relations indeed.
Della Penna, to his eternal credit, continues to follow the US national side to all parts of the world, covering every tournament, the only journalist to do so, thus providing more coverage of the national side than the USACA itself.
Their involvement in online and social media is a rather bizarre beast. There are currently two official USACA websites. One - usaca.org - more resembles a website of 15 years ago than that of a modern organisation and is rarely updated. The other - usa-cricket.org is currently a holding page with a picture of a cricket ground and a caption reading "The official webpage of the future of cricket in the United States of America". The cricket ground? The SCG.
Their twitter feed (@USACAorg) sometimes consists of more news about West Indian cricket than US cricket. They have also take the decision to block a number of US cricket bloggers from reading their tweets. The facebook page is similar, except commenters on that page are sometimes treated with outright hostility if they dare to question what the USACA do.
That facebook page recently decided that the best way to illustrate an announcement of extra funding for women's cricket in the US was not with a picture of a member of the women's national team, but with a picture of a woman in an almost skin tight West Indies top and hot pants squatting on the ground, legs akimbo, gesturing towards her crotch. When the appropriateness of this was questioned by some commenters, they themselves were accused of being sexist by the administrator of the page.
Given that former Indian Test cricketer Robin Singh still has a job with the organisation though, after saying that coaching women required him to "lower his mental standards" when asked about his experience coaching the US women's national team earlier this year, perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised at this minor display of misogyny.
In the midst of all this comes more news about the Twenty20 league set to launch next year. Cricket Holdings America chief executive Neil Maxwell - a former Fijian international - announced to the Indian Business Standard that six franchises would be made available, with an average price per franchise to be $40 million. The league will be played entirely within New York in the the first year - a city with no natural turf pitches.
They hope to make the league profitable by the third year. Quite how anyone would want to invest $40 million into a league partly run by such a dysfunctional organisation is beyond me, but each to their own.
Away from the USACA, other organisations continue to be involved with US cricket, and much more successfully.
The rival American Cricket Federation held its national tournament at the Woodley Park complex in Los Angeles the past three days, with the Southern California Cricket Association beating the Cricket League of New Jersey by 8 wickets in the final.
The United States Youth Cricket Association continues to introduce hundreds of US schoolchildren to cricket and has received endorsements from the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Mike Young. They attract major sponsors that stay well away from the USACA such as Reebok and Metlife. President Jamie Harrison was this past weekend honoured by the Connecticut based cricket hall of fame for his efforts in developing the game amongst American youth.
The USACA meanwhile meanders along, still getting its ICC funding, still being taken seriously by the organisers of the proposed Twenty20 league and still in charge. I started this article by querying whether we're supposed to take them seriously. As the saying goes, you couldn't make this stuff up.
The truth is, they really are this bizarre an organisation, and they seem to be here to stay for the foreseeable future. And so long as they are, cricket in the USA will continue to suffer.