Now, you can get all the USA Cricket updates via Facebook. Also follow us on Twitter via @dreamcricket.
By Venu Palaparthi
Following the completion of 100 days as CEO of USACA, Darren Beazley wrote in an open memo that was posted to the USACA website that it was an "exhausting, yet enjoyable experience."
It is too early to tell whether Beazley is definitively shaping (or changing) the tone at USACA, but the signals that have been emanating from USACA after his arrival are certainly positive, or as the more cynical have observed, at least there are some signals now. During 2012, USACA hit rock bottom one more time in its 48-year history. Many leagues had turned off the radio on USACA. All of this was a blessing in disguise for anyone taking the hot seat at USACA because the only direction to go from rock bottom is up.
Image (right) - Darren Beazley speaks at the 2013 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament banquet in Florida. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
In his memo, Beazley offered his perspectives on how cricket might progress in five key development areas. Calling youth cricket a priority, Beazley wrote: "We need [a world class junior cricket program] here in the United States and USACA is determined to deliver it. It is our responsibility and the foundation on which the game is built." As someone who has invested a large amount of time and resource in youth cricket, I find this heartening and I sincerely hope the walk matches the talk.
Reflecting on USA's performance at the ICC World Cricket League Division Three, Beazley noted that it was a reminder of "just how far the US has to go to be able to find its place in world cricket." However, he added that he now has "a better understanding of the modifications that need to be made and the work that needs to be done to reach our potential."
"The process starts immediately with a full review of what US cricket has done in the past, comparison with world’s best practice and developing a talented player pathway for our Men’s, Women’s and Youth teams that is well understood and uniform across the nation," Beazley noted.
Beazley also promised standards, uniformity and communication as part of the USACA strategic plan that will be released in August. He also said that USACA would provide leadership and guidance for women's cricket. "It is time to get serious about this element of US cricket," he wrote.
Putting a positive spin on the dismal situation with membership, Beazley called upon leagues to align with USACA's new direction. "Everywhere I travelled I have been asked about compliance with the USACA Constitution. Some Leagues want to know how they can achieve compliance and as I have said whenever asked, the first step is to renew your financial standing for 2013," he wrote.
"In the short time I have been here our efforts have been aimed at uniting cricket. Our communications are transparent and regular," he added.
With the membership deadline of May 31st now behind us, perhaps we can expect USACA to be transparent and finally publish a list of leagues in good standing, something that USACA has never been forthright about. Usually, such a list is only published in the weeks before an election and never without controversy. USACA has had a placeholder under the 'Member Leagues' tab for several months now. The USACA Regions and Leagues page is from 2012 and the organization does not list leagues in good standing at any given time. In recent court proceedings, USACA represented that there were 12 member leagues as of November 2012.
Pic (Right): Why don't you all pay us first and then we can figure out whether you will have representation, USACA says. Well, haven't we done that before?
Even though Beazley wrote that USACA will work through the compliance process once these members have paid their dues, that is placing the cart before the horse.
The designated compliance officer of USACA, Shelton Glasgow, is the same man that certified all leagues in the Atlantic Region as leagues in good standing and vote-eligible in 2011. Just a few months later, four of the same leagues were deemed ineligible to vote.
There are many leagues across the country who will agree that USACA is unreliable when it comes to matters of regulation and representation. Beazley has no influence on these matters and neither did his predecessors.
If Beazley believes that all these leagues will return to the "peak body" en masse, he is either underestimating the extent of the distrust or is hoping these leagues have very short memories. I don't want to flog this horse (the one before the cart) any further, but suffice it to say that earning the trust of the leagues will be his biggest challenge in the months and years to come.
On the topic of governance, Beazley noted that the ICC "has very publicly demonstrated its support of USACA by touring the US for the very first time, something that clearly indicates that change has come to America." That is not entirely accurate, because ICC was here in 2009 and, if my memory serves me correctly, they were here in 2003 as well. Last month's visit was also one of puzzlement for many because the USACA and ICC head honchos met with NYPD and PSAL, neither of which are USACA programs per se.
None of those seeming contradictions take away from Beazley's message that ICC's endorsement of USACA is a sign of encouragement. However, it's too soon to tell whether or not that means 'change has come to America'.
Pic (Right): TSE issued a survey to cricket stakeholders as part of the governance review process. Perhaps "none of the above" should have been provided as an option for this question.
Beazley also noted that the independent consultant had made progress and the interview process was well underway. Many stakeholders received a survey towards the end of May from TSE Consulting. He ended the note with an invitation to everyone to join USACA "on the journey as we make cricket a sport for all Americans."
As for actual accomplishments, Beazley has improved communications - something that USACA has done a shoddy job with over the past several years. Also, after Beazley's arrival, USACA has made baby steps in the right direction with its USACA U19 Combine, the launch of an accreditation process for events, and by appointing Colin Miller as an ambassador. More recently, Beazley introduced a formal application process for the positions of manager and physio, potentially ending years of ad hoc political appointments. USACA also announced that it had signed a sponsor for the national team. All of these things are taken for granted by American sports enthusiasts who follow other sports. But for USACA, these are bold new steps.
[Opinions expressed are those of the author and should not be viewed as CLNJ's or DreamCricket Academy's views.]