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By Peter Della Penna
In a major blow to USA’s viability as a suitable host for top flight
cricket, the ICC confirmed on Thursday that the country is no longer
being considered to host this year’s ICC World Cricket League Division
Four tournament. The event is scheduled to include Denmark, Nepal,
Tanzania, USA and the top two sides from 2012 ICC WCL Division Five,
which begins Saturday in Singapore. The sides gunning for promotion from
that event are Argentina, Bahrain, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Malaysia
and the host nation.
to an email from an ICC spokesperson, “The United States was one of the
venues being evaluated for hosting the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League
Division 4 but, as with any ICC event, it was dependent on the potential
hosting nations being able to meet a series of ICC criteria. Following
discussions with USACA it was decided that the United States currently
cannot meet those criteria and therefore will not be considered as a
host for the event.”
When asked what criteria USACA failed to meet, the ICC spokesperson
responded that a host country “is required to give a number of
cricketing, operational and administrative assurances” but the
spokesperson would not comment on which aspects USACA could not follow
through. It is believed that USACA’s current administrative and
governance issues, specifically the failure to hold constitutionally
mandated elections in 2011, may have played a role in the ICC looking
elsewhere for a host site for Division Four. According to the 2012 USACA
calendar of events released on December 9, USA and Nepal were being
considered by the ICC to host the event.
During a meeting with ICC President Sharad Pawar in New York last
summer, former USACA Secretary John Aaron had campaigned for USA to host
2012 ICC WCL Division Four. This past autumn, USACA General Manager
Manaf Mohamed sounded confident that USA would be selected to host the
event and he expected the ICC to make a decision by November to confirm
USA as the host, but no confirmation was ever made public by either
USACA or the ICC.
The fact that USA has been passed over to host the tournament, after
seemingly being in the driver’s seat for the opportunity, speaks volumes
of how poor USACA’s current relationship is with the ICC. The
relationship certainly did not improve this past autumn when USACA
failed to meet several administrative deadlines laid out by the ICC in
conjunction with the 2011 ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh.
It resulted in a sternly worded letter from ICC Americas Regional
Development Manager Martin Vieira to admonish USACA for failing to
properly communicate with the ICC and for its handling of a standoff
between the USACA board and women’s players over proposed tour stipends.
One of the major components to hosting a higher level WCL event is
having at least three turf facilities within close proximity to each
other. There are three turf facilities in the Fort Lauderdale area –
Central Broward Regional Park, Brian Piccolo Park and Boca Raton CC – as
well as three separate turf pitches at Woodley Park in Los Angeles so
the USA would not have failed from that standpoint. There is also
adequate infrastructure off the field in order to host teams, such as
hotels within close proximity to the grounds, as well as suitable
internet network capabilities at the grounds to meet media requirements.
As recently as July, USA hosted the ICC Americas Division One Twenty20
tournament in Florida while USA also hosted the ICC Americas U-19
Division One tournament last February.
If Nepal now has the inside track to host the event, it will be much
more difficult for USA to gain promotion back to Division Three. In the
current WCL cycle which began in 2009, eight out of 10 host countries
have finished first or second in tournament play. The only two who
didn’t were the Netherlands at Division One in 2010, a tournament in
which there was no promotion or relegation at stake, and Botswana at
Division Seven in 2011.
While USA gained promotion from the Division Five tournament staged
in Nepal in 2010, finishing in the top two again in Kathmandu won’t be
easy. In addition to a young and energetic Nepal side, USA will also
have to contend with a Denmark team that took two out of two matches
against USA at Division Three in Hong Kong last year. Depending on the
results of Division Five next week, there is a strong chance USA may
have to go up against a very solid Singapore team as well. Singapore
beat USA convincingly by 99 runs in Nepal two years ago and would have
advanced to Division Four in Italy with USA were it not for the
unfortunate crowd trouble on the final day of group play in Kathmandu.
Nepal’s crowds, while enthusiastic, have a track record of volatile behavior. Crowd violence marred USA’s win against the hosts in Kathmandu at Division Five in February of 2010 and there was a report of more crowd trouble
at the same venue for last December’s ACC Twenty20 Cup match between
the UAE and Nepal. Despite this, they may get a chance to host a World
Cricket League tournament for the second time in just over two years.
Tanzania hosted WCL Division Four in 2008 while other potential
participants for the next Division Four – Guernsey, Argentina,
Singapore, Malaysia – have also hosted WCL tournaments in the past.
Meanwhile, the USA has yet to host one.
Former USACA CEO Don Lockerbie stated during an interview
while traveling with the USA team in Nepal in February of 2010 that he
hoped USA would get a chance to host a major ICC event in the near
future, such as the Champions Trophy in 2013 – which was eventually
awarded to England and Wales – in order to build a bigger profile for
the USA on the global cricket stage. However, if USA is being passed
over to host a World Cricket League tournament, thoughts of hosting a
Champions Trophy or World Cup are a pipe dream and it must also cast
doubt on plans between New Zealand Cricket and USACA to start up an
IPL-style Twenty20 league this summer.