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USA Cricket: Team USA was shortchanged
by
Oct 30, 2014

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By Venu Palaparthi

Too often, we have seen Team USA enter an international competition without adequate practice.  Each time, the players were unfairly put in a bad situation but did their best under the circumstances.

Given the manner in which the national championship progressed and the way the selection and preparation were handled, the team's performance in the tournament was par for the course.  Only believers in miracles actually thought that the team would come out on top. 

Time and again, USA players have been shortchanged by the administration on two essential ingredients - planning and preparation.   Until these become part of the cricketing culture, perhaps we should all acknowledge the simple reality - USA is a Division Four team.  USA clearly has the ability to finish at the top of that division on the strength of its natural talent, but that's that.  Progress to Division Three and beyond needs organizational resilience that is simply absent.

Contrast USACA's fortunes to those countries that were similarly situated some years ago - Afghanistan, UAE, Papua New Guinea or Hong Kong (picture at right).   Add to that list Uganda and Nepal who have just moved up an orbit, and you will see how USACA has floundered.

While we are at it, let's also acknowledge one other fact.   The team that played in WCL Division Three was a hurriedly convened ragtag outfit which neither practiced nor played as a team in recent months.  It has also come to light that several players were not 100% fit.  Compare USA's preparation and confidence with the two teams that progressed to the next level:

Nepal

Uganda

USA

 

Structure: 

 

Nepal's current structure incorporates club, district and regional progression.   12 teams participate at the national level.

 

Structure: 

 

Uganda’s top players play in Division 1 of the eight-team Uganda National Men’s League.

 

 

Structure:

 

USA’s top players play in local leagues.  Occasionally, USACA conducts regional or national tournaments.

 

Preparation for WCL Div 3:

 

Early in September, Nepal held a four-match closed camp for the 24 probables. Later that month, Nepal played in the Asian Games against teams including Malaysia, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Following that, in October, the team played practice games against Sri Lanka clubs before they arrived in Malaysia.

 

 

Preparation for WCL Div 3:

 

In September, Uganda participated in the Africa Cricket Association (ACA) Cup was held in September and featured South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Uganda. Following that, the team was at a 14 day training camp at the Easterns in South Africa.  In October, the National Team held trial games on a turf wicket.

 

 

Preparation for WCL Div 3:

 

USACA has not conducted a national level 50-over tournament since 2010.

A preparatory tour of Jamaica was in the works but was cancelled for financial reasons.  A lone practice session in New York was attended by only seven players.

 

Ahead of the tournament:

 

Paras Khadka:  “It has been an amazing year and we want to finish on a high note by winning the ICC WCL Div. Three title. We played our first global event and got T20I status, and this has given the team a tremendous confidence and belief that we can do well.” 

 

 

Ahead of the tournament:

 

Frank Nsubuga: "We have just had a very good build-up tour in South Africa, participating in the ACA Cup. We had tough games that are very good preparation leading into the tournament."

 

Ahead of the tournament:

 

Steve Massiah: “[A]ll of our players have just played a full season of competitive cricket in preparation for this tournament.”

 

USACA Board Member Krish Prasad: “"The only positive we have here is that a lot of cricket was still being played in their leagues...”

Let's face it.  Uganda and Nepal did not just get lucky.   Their boards overcame logistical, financial and administrative challenges, while also ensuring stability for their High Performance and Elite Development programs.  

Pic (Right): Uganda's national team at practice in the days before the WCL Division 3 [Courtesy - UCA].

There are no signs that the USACA even remembers the top two lofty High Performance goals that it set for itself at the beginning 2014 - "Establish Elite player development and management structure" and "Focus moves to Elite development and extension - Men & Womens Squads."

The simple truth is USACA has let the players down one more time under the present leadership.   And yet, don't expect any changes.  The leadership remains comfortably perched, thanks to the unquestioned loyalty of the small number of member leagues and supporters.  The  USACA coterie is unlikely to register protests any time soon. 

We have also been promised by USACA that a vote would be held on a new constitution before the end of the summer.   Well, it is November now and the summer is a distant memory.  

According to sources, the USACA Board has made some recommendations but none of them give us any confidence that the organization will be reformed any time soon.  As examples, the Board has recommended to remove the requirement for the position of the CEO.  It has also recommended that four 'independent directors' should be 'selected' by the Board.  There is also talk of a two-year probationary period for new or returning members which could potentially lock them out of the democratic process.   Sources also said that the Board has recommended a presidential term-limit.  That is a welcome move but it is not clear if this recommendation, once adopted, will be applied retroactively. 

One thing is for certain, the attention will now shift from international turf to another kind of turf battle.  A battle of the political kind - between USACA and ACF.

 
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