A bizarre post on USA Cricket Association's Facebook page caused cricket writers across the globe to stop and take notice of USA cricket.
[By Venu Palaparthi - A blogger and occasional writer of satirical pieces on our plight as American Cricketers. This is not one such piece.]
A bizarre post on USA Cricket Association's Facebook page caused cricket writers across the globe to stop and take notice of USA cricket. Not since GOP's John Bart King topped first class bowling averages in 1908 has USA cricket received this kind of attention. Unfortunately, it was the type of attention we could have done without.
By Monday evening, the post on USACA's official Facebook page had received more than 721 comments and threatened to trend on Twitter thanks to tweets by a former Test cricketer, bloggers and reporters.
One cricket writer correctly called the entire situation a 'hilarious social meltdown.' By afternoon, there were suggestions that the entire thread be forwarded to the ICC, whose financial support and recognition USACA continues to receive months after a majority of the leagues were muffled in a controversial election.
Here is a synopsis of what transpired and we have not yet seen the end of this sorry episode. It continues to grab the attention of the world's cricket writers (or bloggers, if you prefer). For a detailed version, go to the post on Facebook.
On October 13th, after Peter Della Penna wrote on ESPNcricinfo shedding light on a division among USACA's board members, the administrator of USACA's Facebook account posted a link to the article along with the following comment: "Peter Della Penna continues his unethical journalistic bias by writing yet another scathing article on USA Cricket's internal affairs." Addressing Peter that afternoon, he wrote: "And yes Peter, you will be sued." A little later, he alleged that "There is a clear agenda to defame the organization."
Addressing Martin Williamson, Executive Editor of ESPNcricinfo, the USACA administrator wrote: "Just to summarize in one paragraph..Peter is an unqualified journalist..unethical by its professional standards and is using his limited education to defame an organization and its board on an intrernational (sic) level."
What followed this were the somewhat strange views expressed by the administrator on the qualifications of a professional journalist.
Addressing Martin Williamson once again, he wrote: "Bloggers - like yourself and Peter get around this professional endorsement by only using the internet to spew venom. Ask yourself if your garbage could ever be considered for publication in the Magazine. Reason: you and Peter and other bloggers are unqualified as professional journalists."
"America has standards Martin - you don't just wake up one day and decide that you are a journalists..Especially if your career before your obsession with USACA was selling knives for a living. Sorry - send Peter to Journalism school to learn the basics. Then send him to the New York Press Club to become a member and then to the NYPD to get a press pass. I need to see credentials and so will a Judge."
Soon after, after bloggers expressed bewilderment with this definition of a journalist, the USACA Facebook administrator wrote: "The bottom line is that I am committed to change USA Cricket and that change involves removing all the negative components from its infrastructure. You and Peter are part of that negative component."
This led the blogger, David Mutton of The Silly Midoff Blog, to note, "how does calling the Managing Editor of ESPN EMEA a "negative component" of American cricket fit in with USACA's goal to "build an effective comarketing relationship with ESPN" as stated in your 100 day plan?"
The USACA administrator proclaimed that Martin Williamson 'had no relationship with ESPN3' and proceeded to call David Mutton an "alter-ego" of Peter Della Penna, who he called an 'ex-knife salesman.'
The USACA administrator then went back to attacking Martin Williamson: "MW on your resume..I actually doubt that you wroked for Barclays after HS there is no record of it. My basic point...any bloke can tout himself to be a journalist. As you well know you are hiding behind the internet."
He then asserted: "This page is the official page of USA Cricket. All news updates and concerns should be addressed here. Martin, Peter etc. have been made obsolete."
Elaborating on his role, the administrator, by now it was apparent that he was likely the Executive Secretary, wrote: "My point - I am working to make Cricket professional. Next year guaranteed in the month of September in Newark NJ - there will be cricket championships played in the Newark Bears Stadium. Guess what - unless the bloggers develop their careers then they will not be allowed there for the entire month of September. USA Cricket has become a professional organization - yes we have internal problems but we don't need the one blogger in America divulging every disagreement that the board has."
What followed was a veiled threat: "ESPN will have to make a decision on these two if they want to do business with USA Cricket."
The administrator continued to maintain that the two reporters were internet bloggers and not journalists. "Fortune has come to USA Cricket in its new Executive Secretary," he wrote, apparently referring to himself in the third person. "Martin Williamson here is your author index 973 web articles...nothing ever printed. Trend and qualities of a blogger," perhaps forgetting that ESPNcricinfo was the most widely read cricket website and that Martin Williamson wrote for Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. In Martin's words, "Real articles. In a book. On Paper. So (cue quiet sobs of relief) I am a journalist."
All of this led Andrew Nixon who writes for CricketEurope to wonder: "I'm not sure about Peter or Martin, but I had a book review published in my local paper when I was 7. Am I in?"
By evening, another accusation was leveled, once again Martin taking the brunt, "my quaint point is that blokes like you and PDD are a part of the problem with USA Cricket," USACA administrator wrote. "You have ruined the brand."
Martin's response was simultaneously amusing and tragic: "Oh, so Peter and I have ruined the brand? So it was our fault the ICC twice suspended USACA for its dysfunctionality. Thanks for clearing that one up."
USACA's administrator then followed that up with another bizarre remark. "Martin correct me if I am wrong here. Aren't you the one that was responsible for the Disney debacle?" he wrote which too attracted a quick and amusing reply from a commenter: "Martin Williamson had absolutely nothing to do with "Aladdin 3"."
By evening, as the number of comments approached 700, the USACA administrator wrote: "Oh the 1,000 commenter gets an iPad. I still have 42 left over from the last election."
Even if the math does not add up, this latest iPad giveaway is similar to a promise Kenwyn Williams made earlier this year as the candidate for Executive Secretary when he announced: "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)."
It is a fact that 32 (not 42) leagues were disqualified from voting in the election. It is also a fact that Williams only offered 10 iPads to begin with. So it is not clear how 42 could be left over. It is not known if he kept his promise anyway. What we do know is that Williams received exactly 10 votes.