Last week marked the
100th day of the election of the current USACA administration. Although new
USACA administration was not expected to fire away on all engines immediately,
there have been a few outward signs of progress - the national tournaments have
all been announced (some have been held) and efforts by grassroots volunteers at
the school level have borne fruit in California and New York.
strategy standpoint, those who were expecting fast and proactive steps must
rightly be a bit disappointed. Because progress has been somewhat slow - like
watching an iceberg melt.
Here is a quick report card starting with the
|As expected, $110K in annual ICC funding has been reinstated and USA stands
to gain from increased development funding that ICC has announced for countries
with a robust cricket program.
Manaf Mohammed, Second VP, has taken over cricket operations and the
national tournament schedule was announced ahead of time, a departure from
last-minute scheduling surprises of the past.
Nabeel Ahmed, the First VP, has been a constant presence at cricket events,
sometimes helping the organizers from his own resources, as in the case of the
forthcoming Night Cricket tournament in Chicago. His show of support has
rejuvenated the organizers and participants alike.
The newly constituted regional boards have infused more vitality in the
regions. For instance, the Western Region has undertaken various initiatives
both on and off the field including a planned junior tour of England.
John Thickett and John Aaron, Treasurer and Secretary respectively, have
done their bit to improve transparency - the USACA website now has sections for
financial information and
meeting minutes although recent minutes remain unpublished.|
in some areas
However, in the key areas of fund-raising and cricket
development, progress has been lackluster. Here is the status of some of the
In a position paper titled
Path to Success" published ahead of the April election, Gladstone Dainty
wrote "During the first year, we will budget $25,000 for each Region." He
promised that USACA would "contribute $3 for every $2 raised by the Regional
Entities for the development of cricket in each Region. Matching funds to
Regions would be limited to the first $10,000 raised."
administrator, speaking on the condition of anonymity told DreamCricket.com, "We
have not seen the money yet and this is putting tremendous pressure on the
region and leagues. Players end up paying their own tickets to tournaments. The
problem is that not all of our best players can afford to pay for their travel.
Cricket activities have gone up but we need resources to support these
Absent a clear roadmap to secure funding through improved
marketing efforts, USACA would continue to rely on meager ICC life-support and
donations of the many volunteer-organizers, Dainty himself being among the more
generous contributors. Even if such generosity is commendable, it is only a
Hiring a CEO:
USACA has said that it
plans to hire a CEO. About the plan for hiring a CEO, Dainty wrote "funding will
be secured from various sources including membership dues, sponsorship, grants
and tax deductible contributions." CEO hiring was put off until September and
progress on this is eagerly awaited.
Reuniting the USA cricket
WICB chief Dr. Julian Hunte, ahead of the USACA election,
was hopeful that the current regime will act promptly in reuniting the USA
cricket fraternity by inviting non-member leagues into the USACA fold. Progress
on that front too has been slow. DreamCricket has spoken to four such leagues
that are waiting to be reinstated and we estimate that at least 10 other leagues
could be convinced to join the USACA fold. Not only will greater participation
in USACA aid grassroots cricket development, it will also generate incremental
Decisions on membership should be fast-tracked and
not have to wait for board meetings. Also, membership criteria should be
reviewed and, at the minimum, be outside the purview of the regions. That is
because the regions have every incentive to manipulate membership to their
Cricket development - The aspiring youth
Although, USA cricketers' dreams of qualifying for the
2011 World Cup have now been put to rest, the real silver lining has been youth
When it comes to junior cricket, progress in the boardroom has
not kept pace with real progress on the field. These youngsters have shown that
they are the real deal - and here is where the board's attention is most
Two USA cricketers,Abhijit Joshi and Steven Taylor, excelled as
part of a combined ICC Americas team at the recently concluded Clico U-15 World
Cup in the Caribbean. Abhijit hit 4 consecutive fifties in the tournament. With
their successful campaign, the two lads continued USA's recent record at
international tournaments - USA had won the ICC Americas Under-15 Tournament in
2006 and put up some great performances at the last edition of the ICC U19 World
Even in domestic cricket, the energy at junior level has remained
high. The National Junior championship matches in California have reaffirmed the
giant strides being made by the next generation of cricketers. An inter-zone
junior tournament this past weekend in Chicago too has shown that there is a
groundswell of interest from youth cricketers.
A recent international
coaching program run by DreamCricket.com was attended by over 20 youngsters.
"USA could be the place to invest some time and money if Twenty 20 is to take a
grip around the world", said Ian Pont, at the end of his first fast bowling camp
at the DreamCricket Academy. "I've seen some raw talent worth developing but
there's a serious lack of formal coaching at present. The lads are starved of
quality support but they are keen, knowledgeable and willing to learn."
Tamil Nadu Junior Cricket Coach Bharath Kumar, speaking after his
coaching stint in New Jersey said, "The enthusiasm of these kids is infectious.
I have no doubt that USA will have a solid team in the near future if these kids
stay motivated and get the support they deserve."
The two coaches, who
came from England and India were quick to note that having the raw talent does
not equate to a national program. That takes "the spark of money and time to
create an atmosphere that cricket can thrive in and the desire to create
something new and exciting," Ian Pont, a Level IV international coach said.
Bharath said he was puzzled about the frequent complaints about about
lack of quality wickets in USA. "I agree that the grounds are not comparable to
England. But I think that is only a small part of the problem. If you look at
India, not all first class venues had natural turf pitches and even as recently
as the nineties, Ranji matches were played on matting wickets." Talking about
local weather, he said "I am quite impressed with the DreamCricket facility,
which is an all-weather facility. Only a handful of Indian cities have such a
Bharath said the real problem was that the cricketers needed
a nurturing environment where their commitment to cricket would not go to waste.
"What USA is lacking is perhaps a system that rewards these kids' cricketing
abilities. The simple question on every kid's mind is - I look at Tendulkar
or Dhoni and I will motivate myself to play great cricket, like my friends who
play tennis. But what will that get me in terms of international exposure? Will
it help me secure a scholarship for college?". Cricket administrators should
ensure that the young cricketers have the same opportunities as their peers in
other sports, Bharath noted.
The way forward
If USA wants
to make a mark on the world stage, it has a better chance of doing so at the
2012 U-19 World Cup in Canada and the 2012 Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. But
USACA must formulate a strategy and a long-range plan for a successful campaign
in these two tournaments.
Hemant Buch, who has organized the national
junior tournament for three years said, "I agree that to drive youth cricket
forward, we need a solid national youth development program. I wish we had the
funds for this."
Chidamber Joshi, who played a key role in organizing
the inter-zone tournament said,"I firmly believe that there is a need for
National Cricket Academy. To the academy, we need to identify the top 25 in each
of U-15, U-19 and U-25 (or open) levels nationally and adopt year-round,
sustained programs - such as high Performance training, sustained home and away
tournaments with neighboring countries and beyond. It is just not sufficient to
conduct tournaments and believe that they will pave the way for the future -
that is just a small and needed step towards the bigger and visionary goal."
In fact, Dainty too has recognized the need a national approach in his
white paper when he wrote "The national body will aggressively plan and
establish training and development programs to be administered by the regions."
Progress on this important goal too is eagerly awaited.
Domestic tournaments - Criteria
Another much awaited
development is a harmonization of eligibility criteria for the national
tournaments. "The constant shifting of eligibility criteria, and in some
instances the tournament rules themselves, are aspects of USA cricket that we
need to change as a priority," one administrator said. Selection criteria too
need to be made more transparent and harmonized across the regions, he
Next 100 days
Cricket's growth potential in USA is
undeniable, and everybody from Allen Stanford to Lalit Modi have painted their
vision for USA cricket. But realization of this potential needs strategic
planning, management and infrastructure - and intertwined with these factors is
funding. It is hoped that the President and his board will deliver on its many
promises in the days to come.
Recognizing the young cricketers who
will put USA cricket on the world map
The future USA team will most
likely include these names -
Gregory Sewdial, Abhijit Joshi, Steve
Taylor, Akeem Dodson, Dominic Audain, Mohammad Rehman, Saminda Siriwardena, Ravi
Timbawala, Mital Patel, Brandon Dunbar, Varun Vallur, Vaibhav Nayar, Cameron
Mirza, Akash Jagannathan, Hemant Punoo, Abhemanyu Rajp, Dunae Nathanial, Sumon
Bari, Anil Deopersaud, Balaji Giridharan, Mihir Deo, Arsh Buch, Pranav Pradhan,
Rishi Patel, Raman Nelakanti, Roshan Varadarajan, Sunil Deopersaud, Saurabh Deo,
Alex Kirton,Kapil Talwalkar,Adhiraj Watave, Jacques Gerber, Kwiese Edmondson, G
Domaille, Ani Mayasandra, Adithya Nagaraja, Jodhbir Singh, Pranay Suri, Jason
Fox, Krish Goel, Kalim Ahmed, Vikram Valluri, W Jamil, Herno Smith, Steven Sawh,
Andrey Ajodhi, and Salman Ahmed.
At the Under-13 level, Mohak Buch,
Hersh Solanki, Neil Tagare, Abhimanyu Vaidyanathan, Akhil Ghirnikar, Sandeep
Padedda, Arun Chakravorty, Immanuel Amirtharaj, Mihir Athavale.
know of other promising young cricketers whose names are missing, please alert
us by writing to frontfoot @ dreamcricket.com.
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