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In a far-reaching and candid interview, John Aaron, Executive Secretary of USA Cricket Association, speaks to Venu Palaparthi about the issues facing USA cricket today.
In Part 1 of the two-part interview, we hear his thoughts on the leadership crisis at USACA, favoritism or quid pro quo decisions, the importance of the commercial deal and the complete lack of communications.
Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to share your thoughts on USA cricket. Let's begin on a positive note. What are some of the things that you are proud of during the last three years that you were Executive Secretary?
First, thanks for asking me. I appreciate the opportunity. There are many positive things happening with USA cricket today. I am particularly proud that the women’s program has generated such a significant buzz during the past two years, including attracting the attention of a very generous benefactor. The USA women did well to defeat Canada 3-0 last year to move on to the Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh this November. I am also proud of our Under-15 lads winning the ICC Americas North championship last month in Winnipeg, Canada.
Another decision of the board that everyone can be proud of, would be the signing of an agreement creating Cricket Holdings America, LLC. The appointment of USA Cricket’s first CEO and the level of candidates the search attracted was, at the time, a significant accomplishment.
Since things are so heated up, let's now move straight to the issues facing USACA. Every cricket board in the world is beset with problems and low-intensity feuding but for most members and associates, that has not hampered overall progress. On balance, have things improved over the last several years for USACA? Or are the problems so widespread and so malignant that we cannot get the house in order?
As a national organization with the only “product” being cricket, one would imagine that finding common ground within USACA would be rather easy. That appears very elusive and has manifested itself in such a divisive manner. This has begun to erode whatever confidence cricket stakeholders had begun to find in their national organization.
I only came on board as USACA’s Executive Secretary in March 2008, so I was not totally privy to the inner politicking of the organization prior to that. However, I was naïve enough to think that whatever ailed USACA before 2008 would soon disappear. I was also naïve to believe that a new energetic board could and would address the issues that caused USACA to be suspended twice before, and to come up with workable solutions to help build the organization and the confidence of its stakeholders. However, as time progressed, I noticed it was not the energy level of the new faces on the board, but the malignant nature of its leadership that was strangling the organization.
The problems that faced USACA before the current administration appear to be similar to some of the problems facing the organization at this moment, lack of adequate funding, distrust among board members and a leadership generously described by many as dictatorial.
It is my belief that many of the problems under those three categories can be addressed through scheduled meetings of the board. The USACA board appears to get much more accomplished when it meets, rather than not. However, therein lies the problem – a president who wields more power between meetings, therefore is in no hurry to preside over meetings and democratic processes.
Since you have been an integral part of this administration for over three years, our readers might be wondering why you did not speak up sooner.
The entire USACA board of directors has been the recipient of some very unflattering public comments from cricket stakeholders. But I have been one of a handful of the members on the board who have been fighting day in and day out, to get USACA on the track of true transparency and good governance during the past three years, six months, however I can understand and appreciate the frustration and disgust of the average cricketer and fan in the USA, and directed at the whole bunch of us.
For some years now, I have kept a public silence, which in hindsight may not have done USA cricket any good. On the other hand, I was sincerely hoping that by seeking to project a positive image vis-à-vis USA cricket, the Gods of good will would have blessed us with a turn-around in governance. As a result, I along with all those elected to serve must bear the burden of responsibility for any lack of governance of the organization.
However, the cricketing public ought to know how difficult it has been to serve on a board that is void of real and dynamic leadership in the person of Gladstone Dainty, and a Constitution that badly needs revisiting.
We have heard recently of some strong opposition emanating from Ahmed Jeddy, Tony Gilkes, Krish Prasad and yourself. What specific issues brought you together?
With as diverse a group as the USACA board is, it is not always that members see eye-to-eye on issues. The absence of process and protocol demonstrated by President Dainty was the basis for the coalition. The coalition has since expanded beyond the four gentlemen that you mention. But certainly, the four of us came together at a crucial juncture and because of the way in which certain appointments were handled.
What specifically got you aggravated?
It was the issue surrounding the appointment of members to the Cricket Holdings America, LLC board and the appointment of two interim vice-presidents to the USACA board.
It was clear that three members of the board Shelton Glasgow, Nasir Javed and Masood Aktar Syed were lined up behind President Dainty in the appointment of the individuals currently identified as filling those slots. [Editor's note: Gladstone Dainty, John Thickett, Ram Varadarajan and Dr. Asif Ahmed were appointed USACA representatives to the CHA, LLC board. Michael Gale and Rafey Syed were appointed to replace Nabeel Ahmed and Manaf Mohamed as USACA VPs.]
Treasurer John Thickett, considered one of the architects of the LLC agreement and in agreement with those identified to fill the positions of the individuals, was expected to support the appointments. However, Krish Prasad, Tony Gilkes, Ahmed Jeddy and myself saw that the appointments were being pushed through without the due consideration of other equally, if not more qualified individuals identified for the same positions.
So the issue that galvanized the opposition was how these appointments were made...
We felt that the process and protocol dictated that board members be afforded the opportunity of reviewing the CVs of all persons nominated with a debate before taking a vote. That was not done, and we expressed our disappointment to President Dainty and Treasurer Thickett.
Those sentiments were further expressed in a teleconference attended by Dainty, Thickett, Prasad, Gilkes, Jeddy and myself. At that teleconference President Dainty and Treasurer Thickett were presented with a list of protocols, which I believe was based on sound principles of good governance.
However, it quickly became apparent that no consideration would be given by President Dainty to the suggestions regarding the appointments to the CHA, LLC board, and as recommended by Prasad, Gilkes, Jeddy and Aaron. One would have imagined that the leader of an organization would at least have given serious consideration to, or encouraged a board discussion on some of the recommendations of fifty-percent of his board, at that time.
That brings us back to why you did not go public with your grievance then?
Well, the first thing I did after President Dainty refused to acknowledge that fifty-percent of the board was not in agreement with the process he was seeking to employ, was to write the ICC advising them that USACA was not being governed in an honest and fair manner, and encouraging them to review the matter on behalf of the thousands of cricketers and cricket fans in the USA. The informal response from the ICC suggested that the international organization was not interested in stepping in with regard to good governance of a sovereign organization. Although disappointing, the response was not unexpected.
With more than half of the current USACA board objecting to the manner in which USACA is being run, it is very surprising that the ICC is reluctant to become involved. One can only speculate that the ICC’s reluctance may be rooted in the potential for the growth of the game in the USA through the recently signed LLC deal, and as such is less concerned with the governance of USACA at this time.
The reason behind writing to the ICC was not to seek the suspension of USACA, but to encourage some form of review and/or response from the international body.
In any board, change is usually effected internally and rarely through the involvement of external forces...
Yes I agree that rebuilding process had to start with good governance, transparency and a set of protocols and guidelines aimed at establishing mutual respect between the organization and its members. That has not been the case with USACA.
If the style was more inclusive, since Gladstone Dainty had a clear majority until last November, he would have heard everyone’s views and still done the exact same thing? The President had the support of Glasgow, Masood and Nasir. After Nabeel Ahmed resigned, any chance of [the opposition] gathering enough votes vanished [in the near-term].
In many ways it was unfortunate that 1st VP Nabeel Ahmed chose to resign from the board at the time he did. Yes, his resignation did impact the possible outcomes of some issues, but one cannot blame Ahmed for quitting, after all he had been there and experienced a similar style of leadership under Gladstone Dainty, prior to the current term of this board.
Gladstone Dainty knew that all he needed was four votes from a depleted board and he would cast the deciding vote in favor of any agenda he wanted. It did not matter to him that he was forced to cast a deciding vote on both the issue of the LLC appointments and the replacement of two VPs to the USACA board.
It did not matter to him that fifty-percent of his board did not agree with the process employed in the appointments of the LLC board members. More alarming and damaging however, was the appointments of the two interim vice-presidents to the USACA board, via a teleconference. Again, the votes may very well have been there to appoint the two gentlemen to the board; however, the president ignored the nominations of two other outstanding candidates. His urgency to appoint the two interim VPs is indicative of his haste to govern based on his own agenda and not that of the board.
There was no reason why the incoming Regional Representatives of the North West and South West Regions should not have participated in the decision-making process of appointing the two vice presidents to the USACA board, or the four appointments to the LLC board.
USACA's decisions should at least be consistent with the wishes of USA's leagues. So I can appreciate your concern that a good number of board's views were ignored. But where the rubber hits the road, you know USACA's tournaments have remained haphazard, the selection process remained sub-par, and we haven’t seen a robust training calendar, scheduling and planning have remained somewhat spotty. Much of it without any public protest from dissenting board members.
There have been ample protests made inside and outside of the organization; however those protests have fallen on deaf ears and a leadership that is malignant in its approach to govern from the top down.
In many ways USACA has grappled with restoring an image in a public relations milieu that plagued the organization prior to elections in March 2008. Any attempt to appear divided in public was cautioned as counter-productive, thus thwarting any effective protest from members of the board. It appears in hindsight now that it did not matter how many chances were allowed President Dainty to change; the situation was never going to change, because the modus operandi served those proponents well in achieving their agendas at the detriment of good governance and real leadership.
Everywhere you go, cricketers talk of rampant corruption. Do you actually believe in stories of corruption?
There is no rampant corruption, and to the best of my knowledge there is no corruption with regard to USACA’s finances. Treasurer Thickett has been very thorough in his reporting and documenting of USACA’s finances up until recently, probably due to a lack of in-person meetings of the board. However, I feel that members of the board are entitled to, at least a quarterly financial report, regardless whether USACA holds a meeting or not. For instance, I have seen Ahmed Jeddy, a board member, ask Treasurer Thickett for financial information, and to the best of my knowledge, the request has been ignored.
The lack of transparency and due process results in some very negative speculation. I will give you an example. President Dainty asked Treasurer Thickett to stop the organization’s bank from mailing USACA’s bank statement to me, in my capacity as Executive Secretary. It begs the question, why the need to hide the in-flow and out-flow of the organization’s finances from the Executive Secretary? That move is certainly one that concerns a number of the board members and I. It was very surprising to me that Treasurer Thickett agreed with the president’s unilateral decision aimed at preventing me from seeing USACA’s finances.
Many of the issues involving perceived corruption unfortunately have to do with quid pro quo circumstances, done for political expediency.
Are you referring to perceptions regarding favoritism? A large number of decisions are perceived to be made on political grounds. The selection of board members, the selection of certain players, the selection of delegates and support staff, the selectors themselves and, more recently, the selection of the actual playing XI - the criticism is that USACA is largely about ‘who you know’ than ‘merit.’ Everyone complains about a lack of process until they are themselves a beneficiary.
Let me answer that by first saying, not everyone will ever be totally satisfied with any team selected, unless all of their “wishes” are met. So some of the criticism itself is of a questionable quality, however, the overall governance of USACA certainly contributes to such negative speculation.
I would like to think that players are selected on merit however; I am not that naive to believe that politics, favoritism and other dynamics don’t play a role in the selection process. That’s why reform and processes need to be put in place, to serve as guidelines and markers for good governance. That way, it would be harder to select a player who does not merit selection.
I agree that these perceived ‘political favors’; these things impact the very foundation of performance and development. So what have you done to put an end to this?
Personally, I have done everything I possibly can to stand against such occurrences, but it’s hard when you are standing alongside the minority on such issues. I continue to believe that you cannot change a system, if you are on the outside looking in. So although dissociating one’s self from an entity by resigning may be perceived as the right protest, it can also be perceived as running away from the heat or accepting defeat.
Coming to communication with USACA’s constituents, an area that you are responsible for, are you happy with how this important aspect is being handled? In May, the President admitted that in the past USACA had not been able to communicate well. In his own words: “Now we want to give everyone a chance to have their say.” The president has suddenly realized the truth after so many years at the helm?
The President may very well be pandering to the stakeholders; however, he must first ask himself, why all of a sudden he realizes this, when he has been running USACA for more than six years. One may consider such a statement as being insulting. What was he doing about the poor communication over the years and preceding the current administration?
But how about the communications that you are in charge of? Let us start with the website? Aren't you responsible for this? The website has been down for over two weeks now!
First on the issue of communication, I recall that soon after being elected Secretary and noticing the efforts of the energetic newcomers to the board being stymied by President Dainty, I issued a communiqué to the USACA membership titled “What’s happening!” President Dainty was not very happy with that, but I felt it was necessary to inform the general membership of what was happening inside USACA.
Over the past three years I have issued almost forty media releases, something unheard of from USACA in the past. I sought to cultivate a relationship with the domestic and international media, because I wanted to rebuild the public relations image of USACA and kill the perception that USACA was some sort of secret society.
Pic (Right): John Aaron receives a plaque at the ICC Americas U-15 tournament in 2009
With regard to the web site, credit for improvement in the aesthetic value of the USACA web site should go to former Regional Director Raj Padhi who redesigned the site with a cleaner and uncluttered look. My role was limited to moderation and I sought to focus on cricket and not politics or any other biases. For the last nine months, I have been the sole moderator of articles posted to the website, but let me be clear, I don’t have the necessary administrative passwords to change the layout of the web site or to add any dynamic changes to its appearance.
President Dainty received those passwords from Mr. Padhi, soon after the latter demitted office in 2010. President Dainty has since refused to share those passwords with me. He recently stated that interim 2nd vice president Rafey Syed is restructuring the site and adding some safeguards, so I have to assume he shared them with Mr. Syed. I am aware that the site is currently down and I have asked both Mr. Dainty and Mr. Syed about it. Mr. Dainty has not responded and Mr. Syed appears incapable of managing the site in a professional manner. It is a disgrace to the organization and an embarrassment to the USA cricketing community.
Hopefully, funds will be made available soon to engage a professional web builder to change the look of the site to a more engaging, dynamic and user-friendly one.
While the financial information is somewhat current on USACA’s web site, the minutes of meetings weren’t current before the website completely went offline. There is a note that said, ‘MPA’ and no minutes were available. As secretary, you were responsible for keeping minutes and publishing them.
Let me start off by explaining what MPA means. It means “Minutes Pending Approval.” The Minutes as posted to the website were current under the Constitution, which clearly states a Summary of the Minutes must be posted to the web site after approval.
Following an in-person meeting, a draft of the Minutes is circulated to members of the board for review. Some members of the board opt to respond to the draft with suggested changes, queries or amendments, while others await such an agenda item at the next in-person meeting. A set of Minutes is then prepared for presentation at the next in-person meeting of the board of directors.
Following the adoption of the Minutes, a Summary of same is prepared and posted to the organization’s web site. However, posting of the Minutes of an in-person meeting of the board is dependent upon approval at an in-person meeting. Such meetings have been far and few in between, resulting in the prolonged posting of the Summary to the web site.
A perfect example would be the Minutes of the last in-person meeting held in November 2010, a Summary of those Minutes cannot be posted to the web site, until said Minutes have been adopted at the next in-person meeting of the board and a Summary of same is prepared, following that meeting.
It is a very convoluted process and is largely dependent upon the response time of members of the board and the scheduling of in-person board meetings. It is something that needs to be addressed when the Constitution is next reviewed and amended.
How come there haven't been any meetings since April and in-person meetings since November 2010. In your view, does the board meet often enough to run an organization as complex as USACA?
The board does not meet as often as it should to efficiently serve a membership as large and as diverse as USACA. The Constitution suggests an in-person meeting every two months, or at the discretion of the President. As a 501(c) 3 organization and in keeping with the Constitution, I believe we should meet in a different region once every two months and hold a teleconference in-between those meetings to cover some administrative issues. Earlier last year the board agreed upon a set of six in-person meetings over the following year, but President Dainty has either called off meetings in some very interesting ways, or postponed scheduled meetings, much to the consternation and expense of board members.
Did the important decisions of the last two years - the Pearls Cup, the Don Lockerbie matter, the commercial deal, changes of tournament hosts from one region to another, the election of the two new VPs, the appointment of Manaf as the GM, distribution of dividends - were these made at meetings of the board?
Some of the issues mentioned were either discussed in whole or in part during in-person meetings or during teleconferences, while others were dealt with exclusively by the president. Not all of the decisions were made by the board, in compliance with commonly accepted parliamentary procedures, or using Robert’s Rules of Order.
With regard to the apparent propensity of USACA to make decisions without as much as a discussion, what specifically can be done to improve this situation - do we need constitutional safeguards to prevent this ‘our way or the highway’ mentality?
My view is that the board should meet often in order to address issues, even if it’s simply to brainstorm solutions emanating from thirteen minds rather than just one or two. I am advocating one in-person board meeting be held every two months and rotated from region to region, with the meetings open to league presidents of the host region, except where sensitive issues need to be addressed solely by the board. Such a schedule would build confidence in the organization, while demonstrating transparency and eliciting the support of each region in an engaging and positive manner.
Yes, I am sure that Constitutional safeguards can be put in place to avoid the ‘my way or the highway’ syndrome affecting USACA’s leadership, but more importantly a democratically moral compass would be as effective. Many of the decisions made and affecting the governance, administration and effectiveness of USACA are made outside the realm of the board and not by a majority of any kind. Such decisions are often made between in-person board meetings, and are camouflaged as being necessary before the next in-person board meeting. For example, many of the personnel appointments for tournaments are often unilaterally made by the president outside of board approval, causing much speculation on quid pro quo arrangements, or cronyism.
Until such time as USACA entrusts a full-time CEO with the day-to-day management operations of the organization, the board should continue to be responsible for the implementation of policy and administrative functions that directly affect the membership, or where benefits are seen as affecting one region more so than another. Some of the day-to-day administrative functions should be the responsibility of an empowered General Manager, and not micro-managed by the President.
Do you support the commercial deal with Top Bloom/Podar and NZC? What was your role in the commercial deal?
Yes, I do wholeheartedly support the commercial deal with Top Bloom/Podar and NZC. It is a rather comprehensive deal that’s a winner for all involved. My role was minimal, in that the seats at the negotiating table were limited to President Dainty and Treasurer John Thickett.
One thing that has concerned me about this deal - while the money being talked about can only be good. What you have here is the complete reliance on a big-bang approach –like the 2010 Pearls Cup, chasing millions from a commercial deal. Meanwhile, three years have gone by with just talk of a big deal. Why this over-reliance on a big commercial deal? Most sponsors see USACA as a black hole when it comes to having meaningful discussions surrounding sponsorships.
Sponsorship can be both easy and extremely hard to obtain, depending upon how one approaches a potential sponsor and what one brings to the table in exchange for such sponsorship.
USACA brought a lot of negative baggage to the table through poor leadership and therefore could not ask for much in return, therefore the big-bang theory had to be put into play, at considerable risk, but it was a risk USACA was forced to take in the absence of any other options.
We were left with no other option but to sell the rights to cricket in this country – a sports oriented Mecca, to entities with deep enough pockets of cash and influence to ride out the “capital expenditure years” of the initiatives.
On the other hand I am not surprised that potential sponsors saw USACA as a black hole when it came to having meaningful discussions surrounding sponsorships, because USACA was fighting its own internal demons, while trying to present a public façade of unification. Sponsors doing proper due diligence did not have to dig too deeply to see the chasm that was USACA.
Coming back to USACA’s reps to the CHA board, you indicated that you and some others had concerns about specific appointees. Can you shed some light on that?
As I said, we disagreed with the manner in which the process was conducted and I thought USACA owed it to itself to select from a wider pool of candidates. Philosophically, I don’t have a problem with the President of USACA and/or the Treasurer serving on the LLC board, however I disagreed with the manner in which the appointments were made.
I could conceivably have supported some of the choices in a democratically convened procedure, where other candidates were also considered.
I, like several other USACA board members feel that the sitting President of USACA should automatically sit on the LLC board as the principal representative of USACA and that position should be vacated when a new USACA President is elected.
Can you not recall them? Or is this a fixed-term process?
The members will serve a two-year term. Yes, any of the candidates may be recalled by a majority of the USACA board, but that is something that should not be considered out of malice, but based on sound reasoning or to protect the interests of USACA.
As secretary, do you think you did everything you could? What could you have done better? What were you unable to do because your hands were tied?
I would never be satisfied in what I have done for cricket in the past three years. If one aims for excellence, there is always more that can and should be done. In retrospect, I could have yelled louder or sought public support earlier for what I thought were just causes, rather than be naive to think that we would ultimately turn the corner of good governance, and under Gladstone Dainty’s leadership.
[In part 2 of the interview, which will be published tomorrow, John Aaron talks about the compliance process and the USACA election.]
Just after we published the first part of this two-part
interview, in a very unfortunate turn of events, John Aaron was
suspended by Gladstone Dainty for "comments damaging to the good
standing and well-being of USACA." After considering
the impact of the latest development, DreamCricket.com decided to
proceed with publishing Part 2 of the interview.
In Part 2 of the two-part interview, we hear Mr. Aaron's
thoughts on the constitutional amendments, the compliance process and
the forthcoming election. Click here if you haven't read Part 1.
Comments [Login needed to post comments]
you walk us through the circumstances of Manaf Mohamed's appointment as
General Manager? Why was there no search conducted for CEO?
Manaf was originally identified to become the Cricket Manager - a paid
position within USACA, having served in a voluntary capacity as Cricket
Operations Director, and before the departure of CEO Don Lockerbie.
Following Lockerbie and USACA parting ways in November 2010, Manaf
Mohamed was appointed Cricket Manager, as part of an ICC compliance
agreement to have a minimum of two paid employees of USACA.
Many members of the board have urged President Dainty to commence
the search for a new CEO, but he has been reluctant to do so, basing
his argument on the lack of adequate funding to afford a CEO at the
time. The position of CEO is a budgeted position within USACA and is
expected to be funded through the CHA, LLC commercial deal.
What about the U19 national tournament and women's team preparation for forthcoming ICC tournaments? What is being done there?
The regions have been diligently preparing their Under-19 teams for the
National Tournament, for which the host region and the dates were
announced sometime back, and a budget submitted by USACA’s Cricket
Manager. It appears as though the necessary funding was not there to
conduct the tournament and answers regarding same are hard to come by.
The senior men’s team is now in limbo with no apparent program of
activity in place due to a lack of funding. USACA is expected to host
the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 tournament in early 2012.
The USACA women’s squad has been preparing for the Women’s Cricket World
Cup Qualifier this November in Bangladesh, and their preparation is
also now being threatened, presumably as a result of a lack of funds,
despite USACA receiving a generous six-figure donation specific for the
squad’s preparation for Bangladesh. Hopefully, their preparation will
get back on track soon.
Why does funding for national tournaments and for preparation
continue to be an issue? Hasn't USACA received funds from the
We all heard during a New York Region town-hall meeting this summer
that USACA had received north of $1 Million at that time. I think your
question should be addressed to Treasurer Thickett. He might have more
recent information, as board members have not received any recent
financial information. It is hard to agree or disagree with the
financial excuses being given.
You mentioned the need for constitutional reform when
talking about board meetings. Returning to that topic, three years is a
long time and I find it hard to believe that as custodians of cricket,
the board, and that includes all of you, did not make a single change
or amendment. The members were promised some amendments at last
year’s AGM but nothing appears to have come of that?
There appears to be no urgency on the part of the President to seek
constitutional reforms but we all must bear the burden of culpability.
A Constitution Review committee was established by the board with
Shelton Glasgow as its Chair, and Mr. Glasgow did submit interim reports
to the board. A brief bullet point suggested list of amendments was
presented by Mr. Glasgow to the board shortly before the 2010 AGM;
however there has not been any discussion of these suggested
As the policy arm of the organization, we the members of the board
should have insisted on the Constitution being addressed, however, in
the absence of meetings, a lot of the priority issues are often not
addressed in a comprehensive manner – the Constitution falling victim,
ever so often.
What specific areas of the constitution should have been addressed, in your view?
I believe one of the tenets of the Constitution in need of change is
the inability of a majority of the board to summon a meeting without the
blessing of the President. Meetings of USACA should be held once every
two months in a different region and be open to the league presidents
of that region, except in the case of sensitive discussions involving
confidentiality agreements, etc. Some of the other areas of the
Constitution in need of review and amendments are - term limits, clarity
in membership qualifications for USACA, recognition of a national
umpiring body, and giving the board a broader mandate in governance.
What needs to be done for the wheels to be set in motion on these types of amendments?
First, as I have said, the Constitution should be reviewed by a
review committee. In my view, the committee's membership should not
contain more than 25% of its membership from the USACA board. There are
several gifted and learned individuals outside of the board who are
well-versed in sports constitution and the law, who can be very
objective in their approach to recommending the necessary changes to the
Of course, it’s the league presidents who will be asked to adopt any
amendments to the Constitution. I do believe if the committee
recommends changes that will improve the organization and help the sport
grow in the USA, the league presidents will support such amendments.
North West and South West had their elections earlier in
the year and the Central East too just named Golam Sayeed as their
Regional Representative to the USACA Board. How does that change the
political equation on the USACA board?
I am less concerned about the change in the political equation, than I
am concerned that these new members join the discourse, it’s the only
way we would bring about change and help the game grow, while convincing
the naysayers who believe that USA cricket would never get anywhere.
Golam Sayeed, Mark Sood and Ajay Athavale - bring a fresh perspective to
the board and they all represent three important regions.
While I appreciate that viewpoint, but it still takes a
certain amount of political courage to effect change or for that matter,
to block change. These new regional representatives, they are not
necessarily a part of the Dainty camp....
I would like to not think of it as Dainty’s camp versus some other
camp. I am sure that some of the individuals aligned with Mr. Dainty
are independent thinkers and would not see themselves as described by
you, unless of course, they share the same philosophical pursuits or
agendas as he does.
But does President Dainty see things that way? Will he welcome the new members and his opponents and seek their divergent views, instead of seeing them as friends or foes?
You would have to ask him that question.
What caused your resignation from the Compliance Committee?
My sojourn as Compliance Officer was purely on an ad hoc basis, as
seen fit by the president from time to time. I was asked by President
Dainty to oversee the elections of the North West and South West
Regions. I immediately co-opted the help of Ms. Lisa Brulport an
employee of USACA and President Dainty suggested I add Mr. Shelton
Glasgow to the committee, which I gladly did, in the hope that many
hands make for light work.
Together, the three of us opted to divide the compliance check chores
of the eleven leagues. I had the first four, Mr. Glasgow the next four
and Ms. Brulport the remaining three leagues. We conducted our own
investigation of the leagues assigned to us following a very simple list
of compliance checkpoints. In the final analysis, we each ironically
found one league in each of the three groups wanting, and not meeting
the basic requirements as agreed upon by all eleven leagues.
I contacted President Dainty and informed him that the committee had
found three leagues in non-compliance and I was planning on informing
them. President Dainty immediately told me that the three leagues were
members in good-standing and I did not have the authority to prevent
them from voting. I assured him that the decision was not mine alone,
but the committee’s. Further, I thought it was disingenuous of him to
so determine without conducting any investigation or at least reviewing
the basis of non-compliance of the three leagues. It suggested to me
that there was a political connection with the three leagues in
question and the USACA President.
Based on the hard work conducted by the committee under my
stewardship, I thought it was unfair for President Dainty to dismiss the
findings of the committee in such a manner, and without due cause. I
therefore found it necessary to resign from such a position that was
disrespected by the President of USACA, for political gain.
What is the process for approving new leagues? And what
is the process of redress when a legitimate league is being blocked by
A common practice used within the past three years has been to have
the membership of a league, whether Associate or Full membership, be
endorsed by the Regional Representative of the region, before approval
by the board, purely as a matter of courtesy and responsibility of the
Representative on the USACA board.
How about the MichCA and the Georgia Supreme leagues?
These are well-recognized leagues and we hear that they were kept out
for political reasons.
Time and time again both leagues provided an overwhelming amount of
evidence to support their claims to Full Membership of USACA, only to be
denied by President Dainty, and based solely on the word of the
respective Regional Representatives for Central East and South East. It
was obvious that the two leagues were not willing to lend political
support to the two Regional Reps, in return for approval.
What about this new compliance process? Why now, just before an election?
In the summer, Mr. Shelton Glasgow issued a request for information
from member leagues, suggesting that the information provided would be
used to determine eligibility of those leagues to vote in USACA’s
national elections. The information was hardly indicative of an
eligibility process, but more so one of compliance, whereby leagues
were asked to provide data that should have already been in USACA’s
In a dramatic turn of events resulting in the regional elections of
the Atlantic Region, President Dainty supposedly asked that the results
of that region’s board elections not be made known.
Why? Mr. Glasgow, a close ally of Mr. Dainty, was identified as the
then Compliance Officer, is from that region and had vetted all the
leagues within the region, clearing them to vote.
Following such a bungled administrative process of compliance, an
Austin, TX based law firm emerged and is purporting to represent the
USACA board in requesting information from each league, as the basis of a
The USACA board did not approve the new compliance process or the firm conducting it?
I can categorically state here that the USACA board did not retain
the services of the law firm, nor approved the compliance review
criteria. It appears as though President Dainty and Treasurer Thickett
retained the law firm on behalf of USACA, a decision that has certainly
not received the support of at least six Regional Representatives, and a
major portion of the leagues.
Will you be contemplating a rerun when elections are held?
By rerun, do you mean for Secretary of USACA? If so, I have not made
up my mind, but what I do know is that I am a servant of the game and
would always seek to serve the sport in the most humble and sincere
manner, in some capacity or another.
I got involved in the administration of US cricket at the national
level in 2007, when seventeen league presidents asked me to chair a
League Presidents Reconciliation Commission – aimed at amicably
resolving the issues that resulted in USACA being suspended twice by the
Despite being labeled as “Terrorists” by President Gladstone Dainty,
myself and four other league presidents were able to arrange a meeting
with the USACA board and WICB President Ken Gordon, along with other
representatives of that ICC Americas Full Member, leading to a revision
of USACA’s Constitution, subsequent elections in 2008 and the lifting of
the ICC suspension. Since then, all I have ever wanted to do was serve
US cricket with the greatest of integrity and transparency.
Among Nabeel Ahmed, Maq Qureshi, you know the men who
have announced their candidacy for President, who is the better
candidate? Who would have your support?
I have had discussions with several of the declared presidential
candidates, including the two you mentioned, and they all bring
different strengths to the table, some more so than others. However,
those discussions have not been as in depth to provide me with the
comfort level to declare my support for one candidate over another.
What would the new president need to do to get things moving? What are the top 3 things?
1. Restoring the credibility of USACA, to the level where the organization and its leadership may be trusted.
2. Demonstrate an objective approach to building a national
coalition of cricket enthusiasts willing to put their shoulders to the
wheel to help cricket grow from the grass root level up
3. Define a clear vision of positive leadership forward, while
engaging and building partnerships with corporations, the USA Olympic
Association and other entities to help the sport grow exponentially
Has there been any discussion on when the election will be held or won’t be held?
President Dainty along with the Atlantic Region’s Shelton Glasgow
presented a time-line for regional and national elections, with the
latter slated for October 15, 2011. However, to date no guidelines have
been issued regarding the nomination process, etc., and the election is
now less than a month away. Only time will tell if the national
elections will be held this year and the manner in which it may be
Thanks for your time. Hopefully, USACA will find a way
out of the impasse and will bridge the differences. Cricket has plenty
of potential but there is really a crisis of confidence in USACA and
that does not help the sport.
I appreciate the opportunity to discuss these issues candidly, but I
fervently hope that the next administration brings about some
much-needed change. The power of the sport in this country does not rest
in the hands of those sitting on the USACA board of directors, the real
power lies in the hands of the leagues and those participating in the
leagues. Cricketers need to stand up and own the cricket, for the sake
and future of the sport in this country.
Those currently playing the sport should volunteer to coach in
pee-wee-type cricket leagues, hopefully established by USACA, thereby
exposing the sport to more American-born children. Such an initiative
would ensure the growth and sustainability of the sport with a
generation not before exposed. Together, with organizations such as the
United States Youth Cricket Association, the sport will someday become a
participating Olympic event for the USA and boasting players who would
have been born and bred on the sport in this country.
Each cricket player should start giving back, while paying forward now.