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Organise

United States of America
Cricket Association

In its earliest incarnation, the USACA was a loosely held-together association of amateur cricket clubs, dispersed across the USA but with its major strength in the West, primarily in California.

In the 1980s, the rise of immigrant-- primarily Caribbean-- populations in the New York/New Jersey area led to the formation of a "US Cricket Association" concentrated in the North East. The USCA applied for recognition by the ICC, but was turned down because it was geographically too localised. Instead, the ICC settled on the USACA as the truly national body, and gave it the official seal of approval.

Buoyed by this recognition and feeling the need for greater control, the USACA adopted a new constitution with an all-powerful President who could appoint his officers at will, control all USACA activities and act on behalf of the USACA as he wished.

The model of the autocratic USACA President was Nasir Khan, who functioned for nearly a decade as US cricket's "czar" and is said to have brooked no interference in his activities. His dictatorial style was-- and is-- the stuff of legend.

Nasir Khan did commit one "fatal error". He invited the leaders of the now-defunct "US Cricket Association" into USACA ranks, and proceeded to reward their "cooperation" with the usual perks. The result was that Nasir Khan found himself more and more at the mercy of his appointees, and was ultimately forced out of office by his Palace Guard.

There followed an interim period during which a Nasir Khan-less USACA, led by Akhtar (Chic) Masood and with Gladstone Dainty as Treasurer, conducted USACA affairs in the style to which all were accustomed. During this period, the "membership base" of the USACA, i.e. USACA member clubs, shrank almost to vanishing point-- and allegations of financial and electoral hanky-panky began to be made against the USACA executive. None of these were satisfactorily resolved. The post-Nasir "holdovers" were to bear the brunt of the criticism which soon developed around USACA's alleged shortcomings.

Meanwhile, in protest against USACA's growing isolation from cricket in the rest of the country, a new organization called the United States Cricket Federation (USCF) had taken shape. The USCF was led by Kamran Khan, ex-captain of the USA team, and Mike Miller, then President of the Northern California Cricket Association. It managed to secure a far more representative membership base than the USACA, by this time, had been reduced to. It attacked the USACA on all fronts, came up with its own Web Site (the USACA had never bothered to have one), a comprehensive plan of action for US cricket, and was soon petitioning the ICC to have USACA removed and replaced by USCF as the "official" ICC representative.

The ICC, which had already been viewing USACA's operation with alarm and had even suspended payments to it until all expenses were accounted for, was sufficiently persuaded by USJC to demand that the USACA and USCF meet to come up with a common plan of action, and a unified organization. Under ICC pressure, USACA leadership reluctantly agreed to meet with USJC in the presence of an ICC-approved mediator. After much wrangling, a formula was worked out which would give USCF member clubs an equal representation in a new and unified USACA. This was supposed to be the new beginning-- and the election of officers who included both "old" USACA and USCF representatives was to be the signal that a new era was dawning for US cricket. And so we proceed to more recent events--

How long ago it now seems--- August 28th, 1999---

A new Executive Committee had been appointed, consisting of: Ricky Craig, President ; Kamran Khan, Vice President; Selwyn Caesar, 2nd Vice President; Atul Rai, Secretary; Mike Miller, Treasurer.

Krish Prasad, then the President of the Eastern American Cricket Association in New York, was voted in as national representative of the US Leagues.

So, there were two ex-USCF officers, Kamran Khan and Mike Miller; two "old" USACA officers, Selwyn Caesar and Dr. Atul Rai; and two who were neither. It was what one would call an "evenly balanced" Executive.

But--as of November 2000-- the news about the USACA was not good. Some good things did happen, some bad---and some, simply perplexing.

The good news first. For the first time ever, an official US team went on an international tour of a major cricket-playing country. It performed far better than anyone had expected, with a 3-4 win-loss record against strong opposition, and a one-wicket victory over the MCC--the first time that an official USA team on tour has defeated a representative team of a major test-playing country on its home ground. ( See USA tour of England, July 2000.).This represented a major milestone in the history of US cricket. This was followed by a sensational defeat by the USA, of a Barbados team consisting of 5 international and Test cricketers in an otherwise lackluster performance in the Caribbean Red Stripe Competition. Although some of this glory was tarnished by a miserable performance in the Americas Cup trophy in Canada, it at least provided an antidote to the nay-saying that has become endemic among critics of US cricket performances.

And now the bad news.

Rick Craig, the recently elected President of the USACA resigned on June 6, 2000, less than a year after taking office. This was shortly after Mr. Atul Rai, Secretary of the USACA, had submitted his letter of resignation, citing irreconcilable differences of procedure with the USACA Executive. CRICNFO was told by several persons that Craig's resignation was precipitated by a majority of the USACA Board members deciding to reject Mr. Rai's resignation as Secretary of the USACA, and supporting a move to have him back in office, against Mr. Craig's ruling. The remaining USACA officers insisted that Mr. Rai had resigned and was no longer the Secretary, but Mr.Rai's supporters said that the will of the majority of USACA Board members was what counted---and they prevailed in a Board meeting on July 29, 2000, also adding Mr. Rambaran Singh of Florida as 1st Vice-President and requiring the appointment of a new auditor to be approved by the USACA Board to oversee the coming elections.

Meanwhile, the biennial elections to the USACA Board, supposed to take place in July 2000, were held up. Although Mr. Selwyn Caesar had taken over as Acting Secretary and seemed to be doing whatever was needed to keep the election process going, Mr. Rai's supporters said that since the election fell within the Secretary's scope of responsibilities, the process should be started afresh following Mr. Rai's reinstatement.

As time went on, the behind-the-scenes activity became fast and furious. Allegations were being made that the 'old USCF group' in the USACA, led by Mr. Khan and Mr. Miller, were trying to hijack the USACA in pursuit of their own hidden agenda. All kinds of threats and counter-threats, including promises of legal action to sustain or disprove the charges, were being made 'sotto voce'.

Just how strained the situation had become, can be seen from the series of letters and replies in our Opinions section (see Letters to USA Page).

Things started with an open letter from a president of a US cricket league, asking pointedly why the Officers of the USACA were not performing to what was expected of them by US cricketers as a whole. Open-letter replies followed from the Secretary and the President of the USACA, perhaps the first time USA officers have expressed their opinions in a public forum. Then another Board member went public with his views, followed by a reply from the Treasurer who had the finger pointed at him. Before long, e-mails and letters were flying back and forth. (CRICINFO chose not to print many of these e-mails because they contained charges and accusations of a personal nature--however, some of those letters, we understand, made their way in unabridged form to other publications.)

The climax came when acting USACA President Kamran Khan, who had taken over follwing Ricky Craig's resignation, said that the Executive and Board of the USACA board were deadlocked, and took the extraordinary step of calling a General Meeting of all USACA members (i.e. representatives of paid-up member clubs of the USACA, perhaps 250 in number at the time) in New York on November 4, 2000. To the best of our recollection, there never has been a General Meeting of the USA Cricket Association, certainly not an "extraordinary" meeting called by the Officers.

As might have been expected, many of the hopes of US cricketers were not realized at the meeting. Reports from observers said that much of the day was taken up with the airing of opposing views from the Officers and Board Members. With the 'rapprochement' between these contending parties occupying center stage, most of the agenda items dealing with future goals and activities were left on the table. About the only thing that was decided was that the long-delayed elections for the USACA Board would take place after all, between November 22, 2000 and January 24, 2001.

Finally, after some more arguments about the impartiality of auditors, the USACA elections did take place, and the results were announced by e-mail from the Secretary of the USACA (see yr 2001 USACA Election Results.)

Within a few months in 2001, it became clear that even with a significant shift in membership at the Board level, the divisions that had prevailed in US cricket had not disappeared after all-- as per a pungent metaphor from Oklahoma, it was a case of "the same sh--, [but] different flies".

The United States Junior Cricket organization, or USJC, which had incorporated itself as a non-profit organization in 2000, moved into center stage as a point of dispute. The connection? Several USACA Officers and Board members who were also prime movers behind the USJC, were from the "old" United States Cricket Federation (USCF), which had challenged the insularity and incompetence of the "old" USA Cricket Association in the 1990's-- and there were several people in and outside the USACA Board, with axes to grind and scores to settle.

In a turnabout, USACA officers connected with USJC were accused of their own brand of cloak-and-dagger mischief, of attempting to subvert the workings of the USACA Board, and of empire-building under the guise of promoting junior cricket.

Fuel was added to the fire by the discovery that the USACA officers were attempting to replace the current structure of the USACA as an association of clubs, with a corporate model where USACA Board Members would function as an advisory Board of a newly-formed non-profit corporation (much, indeed, like the USJC was organized--given the circumstances, a problem in itself.) The plan had been devised as a way for the USACA to get out of its accumulated debts, and put itself on a sound financial footing. But when the idea was presented to the USACA Board of Directors, it was immediately seen as a way to take away their sovereign powers-- the idea was peremptorily voted down, and was used to justify the opposition to the way in which the officers were running the show.

USACA President Kamran Khan, former President of the "old" USCF and the "new" USJC, resigned from his USJC presidency to appease his critics--but to little or no effect. USACA Secrtary Atul Rai, whose resignation had precipitated the situation that the USACA now found itself in, was a spokesperson of those who harboured suspicions about the "old" USCF (and thus, the "new" USJC), and made his position clear in a series of memos and e-mails. USACA Treasurer Mike Miller stood his ground against each and every challenge by his detractors-- and immediately became USACA's bete noir for the entire issue.

Meanwhile, in a written memo to the USJC, the USACA Board had set out a draconian list of conditions that the USJC would have to meet in order to affiliate with USACA. According to those who were familiar with the proceedings, these conditions were drafted by USACA Board members Lance Alexander, Sheldon Glasgow and Curtis Clarke.

The USJC surprised most observers by accepting these conditions. But the USACA Board decided they would not affiliate with the USJC anyway, by a "conference call" vote. According to insiders, the vote is supposed to have gone as follows---Approving the affiliation of USJC with USACA were Lance Alexander, Sheldon Glasgow and Arun Vittala; Against were Abid Ali, Masood Syed, Paul DaSilva, Lesly Lowe, Faoud Bacchus, and Curtis Clarke--Abstaining was Clifford Hinds. As can be seen from the voting, the "newcomers" to US cricket politics seem to have voted 2-1 in favor of USJC's affiliation, but were apparently outvoted by the "veterans/ old guard".

This was a split decision, with an anomaly--Curtis Clarke, one of the drafters of the conditions for the USJC to accept, voted against the USJC, apparently disregarding the fact that his stated terms had been accepted ! The other two, Lance Alexander and Sheldon Glasgow, were more consistent in their logic, and seem to have voted for affiliation because their requirements were met..

(A parenthetical note here: an increasing number of so-called USACA Board "meetings" seem to be, in fact, "conference calls". Use of modern telecom technology is certainly to be applauded, but procedural accountability can be a problem unless full tape transcripts are kept, and then published. As it happens, the USACA has never published the minutes of any of its meetings on its Web site; all proceedings are secret, and reports such as this one are compiled mostly from "leaks" and personal reports.)

In a repeat of the old scenario, recourse was had to the ICC on the "conflicting" claims of the USACA and the USJC, especially regarding ICC's support for the U-13 tournament and international symposium that the USJC had been planning to hold in Florida in October 2001. As before, the ICC (this time, in the guise of its newly formed Americas Development Office) found itself in the middle of a nasty brouhaha. And once again, personal animosities and vitriolic diatribes had become the order of the day at the national level.

In between these goings-on, the USACA did achieve one notable success. Its Web site, which can be viewed at http.//www.usaca.org, was rescued from its moribund state and began to report on major happenings with some measure of alacrity. In a real innovation, it opened a "Bulletin Board" which quickly became a forum where US cricket issues began to be discussed by "anonymous" as well as identified persons, with a good deal of verve and enthusiasm. The USACA "Bulletin Board" had become a magnet for controversy, and CRICINFO-USA has begun to consider it and similar forums on other US cricket sites to be a valuable source of opinions on US cricket (see What ARE they Saying? , elsewhere on this Web Site.) However, this was not to last-- as later events will show, the Bulletin Board was cancelled because it was becoming too controversial, and with it went USACA's credibility as an organization.

Meanwhile, as the curtain was being raised in Toronto on the pageantry of the (possibly) last-ever full congregation of non-Test cricket-playing countries at a single venue, the USACA was again in limbo--its officers at loggerheads, with the possibility of a late-July AGM where things could again come to a head.

More fun and games were to follow, however, before the final chapter. First, the legality of the proposed late-July AGM (which had been advertised in the new USACA Web site) was questioned privately by a few Board members, and publicly by the President of the Northwest Cricket League, in an open letter ( see Proposed AGM: Where are the Procedures?.) There was no reply, and to this day it is not clear that the meeting has been held. Then, a letter was sent by the USACA Board to Mike Miller summarily firing him from his post of USACA Treasurer, apparently for establishing contact with the ICC without the Board's knowledge or permission-- the letter was pre-dated to April 14, but was not issued to him until after mid-July (i.e. after the ICC had released the funds for Trophy participation to the Treasurer!) Finally, the USACA Board of Directors apparently met in New Jersey, and appointed a new Executive for 2001-2003--and conspicuously missing from the new slate were the two USCF/USJC "culprits", Kamran Khan and Mike Miller. Kamran Khan told CRICINFO he had decided not to run, and Mike Miller (away on vacation) said he was less than surprised.

Mike Miller did, however, manage to complete a Financial Report and a Statement of Accounts before he left office. In one of the ironies of US cricket, this was not published in the USACA Web site, but was picked up and printed in CRICINFO-USA (see USA Treasurer's Report and USACA Finances). This was the first time in seven years that USACA had an audited financial statement for the year, which was something of a milestone.

There were some objections made to the way in which the past officers were summarily dismissed, and the new ones installed. One candidate for an executive position, pointing out that the USACA had originally asked for resumes to be evaluated by the Board, insisted that he was one of the two who had complied with the request, only to find that his resume had been overlooked, and that persons who had not submitted resumes were appointed instead. His letters to the Executive, the Board and anyone else who would listen have not been answered-- and so far, there has been no explanation from the USACA.

During the months of August and September 2001, there were three major events in US Cricket.

The first, right on the heels of USA's disappointing performance at the ICC Trophy in Toronto which was blamed on poor management by the USACA, was the even more unsatisfactory situation that developed around the U-19 Qualifying tournament in Bermuda. The questions raised about team selection, lack of preparation and organization, and other matters have been described in detail elsewhere (see USA U-19 Team in Bermuda.) Suffice it to say here that it raised even more questions about whether the USACA was really managing the affairs of US cricket with dedication,not to speak of efficiency.

The second was that ICC's Council of the Americas (CCAM), the regional organization of ICC members that oversee all development plans for cricket in the Western Hemisphere, moved with unexpected alacrity and took over the Global Symposium and U-13 International Tournament which had been planned for October 2001 by United States Junior Cricket , and put it under the control of Robert Weekes, ICC Regional Manager, in Toronto (Canada). The USJC, in effect, was "no longer there to be kicked around any more"-- its activities continued, but it was now at arm's length from its critics in the USACA, thus no longer in the direct line of fire.

USACA's reaction to these developments in Junior cricket came on September 7. The USACA Executive decided to participate in the Orlando Global Symposium and U-13 events, after being assured that they were being run by the Cricket Council of the Americas and (one assumes) not USJC, its long-standing adversary in the field. As it turned out, USACA totally failed to live up to its commitment to the Global Symposium-- its participation was close to zero, leaving CCAM and the ICC Americas Office high and dry-- and the failure of the Symposium is said to have led to the resignation of the ICC Americas Development Officer Robert Weekes (see Weekes quits ICC Americas post ). Meanwhile, the USACA announced that it was going to start its own Junior Cricket Development Program, naming a "Forum" of eight representatives from regions of the USA.

There was still the matter of the International U-13 Tournament, however. USJC and the Cricket Academy of New Jersey organized a US Inter-regional U-13 Tournament over Labor Day weekend in 2001, which proved to be a great success (see U-13 Tournament in New Jersey ) Based on the stand-out performances, the sponsors of the tournament-- USJC, the US Cricket Academy and the new Major League Cricket organization(see next paragraph) combined to select a USA U-13 Invitational XI which was entered in the U-13 Tournament at Orlando.

By all accounts, the USACA Junior Cricket Development Program got off very much on the wrong foot. It was heavily cricitized by US cricketers for having a leadership of questionable character, and for being packed with political appointees who had no experience in junior cricket (see USACA Junior Program-- Comments.) This was compounded by its effort to produce an "official" U-13 Team to supplant the Invitational XI put up by USJC and associates, which produced an unpleasant confrontation within the Junior Committee between its majority of political appointees and the few who had prior experience in US junior cricket (see U-13 Teams for Orlando). The not very edifying conclusion to all this hangama was that TWO U-13 Teams appeared headed for Orlando-- and the rift beween USACA's Junior Cricket politicos and junior cricket programs in the USA (not just the USJC) had widened into a chasm.

The matter was finally decided in the Byzantine fashion of things USACA.

For some reason, the Cricket Council of the Americas (CCAM) had decided to hold an Americas U-15 competition at nearly the same time as its scheduled U-13 tournament in Florida. The U-15 tournament was originally planned for Houston. But CCAM, having dumped USJC from any role in managing the U-13 tournament, realized that it was saddled with commitments for housing and space which had been made by USJC to Disney, and it had no idea what to do with them. There was also the problem of the two US U-13 teams-- CCAM had already committed to accepting USJC's team, and was faced with a "hot potato" issue which it was reluctant to deal with. CCAM "solved" the problem by cancelling its U-13 tournament altogether, and then moving the U-15 tournament to Florida with a new U-15 team entry from the USACA.

So ended two years of planning and resource commitments by the USJC, neutralized by a single political decision. It also marked the final exit of USJC from the USACA cricket scene-- its principals, Mike Miller and Malcolm Nash (USJC's top Coach known for his role as the bowler in Sir Garfield Sobers's record-setting 36-run over!) have refused to entertain any further overtures from the USACA, and continue to act independently and privately to further their own vision of US Junior cricket. Meanwhile, the U-15 Americas tournament took place in Orlando, Florida, with not particularly edifying results for the USA (see First Americas U-15 Tournament, 2002 ).

Perhaps not entirely by coincidence, there was a "take-over" of USJC's place as the bete noir of US cricket politics by Major League Incorporated (MLC), a new organization with Clive Lloyd (former captain of the West Indies) as one its prncipals. MLC threw itself into the maelstrom of US junior cricket and emerged as a new contender for a piece of the US turf. MLC had made a presentation to the USACA Board in February 2001 on its long-term plans, but had been dismissed out-of-hand by many USACA regulars as being too vague and windy. Now MLC performed a lateral arabesque, moved to support the U-13 Regional Tournament in New Jersey that had been attacked as illegal by the USACA, joined up with youth cricket organizations and state and school officials in New Jersey, put its seal of approval on the U-13 Regional tournament and the USJC-selected team for the Orlando U-13 internationals, and added a couple of planks to its grand design for US cricket that were guaranteed to bring it into direct conflict with the USACA in the not-too-distant future. As of 2003, this potential threat had evolved into reality as MLC proceeded to act on its own (see 2003: A SECOND INNINGS for US Cricket ).

Through all of this, a notable feature was the silence of the top USACA executives on matters of importance, especially the events described above. USACA officers and Board members who had been helpful in explaining their own (and USACA's) positions in past years suddenly became incommunicado, or contented themselves with making bland or obscure statements. Board meetings again became secret, and questions remained unanswered. Was this a retreat back into the kabbalistic practices of several years ago, when inscrutability was the name of the USACA game?

There were a few signs, as of January 2002, that the USACA might be breaking out of its somnolence into something approaching activism-- whether these were merely straws in the wind or a real change of direction was too early to tell. An important meeting with the West Indies Cricket Board ended with the WICB laying down some strict guidelines on what needed to be done if US cricket was to emerge effectively into world cricket--insiders report that the meeting was quite serious, and the requirements stringent. Based on the meeting, 2005 appeared to have been set as a deadline for US cricket to shape up enough to compete to future ICC Trophy and World Cup standards--whether by the USACA itself, or the WICB, or CCAM, it was difficult to determine.

A sparsely attended Annual General Meeting of the USACA followed in November 2001. (See AGM Report and Analysis ). The meeting did serve a useful purpose, in that the USACA Executive were more forthcoming in their responses at what turned out to be a question-and-answer session more than a policy meeting.

Following the meeting, there was a flurry of activity, as plans were made to write a long-term strategic plan for US cricket for the next five years (a WICB and ICC requirement), hold a future U-15 Americas Tournament in the USA, send a team to tour Antigua in early 2002, and set up Committees to oversee all the different functions related to US cricket; these initatives were duly announced on the USACA Web site, in a notable departure from previous practice.

The Plan did get written-- and it proved to be something of a disappointment. It was long on generalities, and short on specifics except in a few narrow areas (see USACA'S New FIVE-YEAR PLAN). An independent analysis of the Plan conducted by a team of financial experts estimated that it could cost $1.45 to $ 3.2 million to meet its stated goals, with no hint about where the money was to be coming from. ( see $1.45 to 3.2 million/year for the USACA 5-yr Plan.) Most of the Committees set up with a flourish in early 2002 failed to function-- certainly, nothing much has been heard from them since. CRICINFO-USA queried some of the appointees and found that they had not received any guidelines from the USACA Board or Executive about what they were supposed to do or what authority they had to proceed -- repeated inquiries produced no responses, and many nominees simply dropped out through lack of interest or suport.

In 2002, there was two notable successes for US cricket, which (at least temporarily) turned attention away from the continuing shortcomings of USACA's internal operations.

The first was USA's first-ever victory in an international championship officially sponsored by the ICC-- the Americas Tournament of 2002, which brought together the leading "minor" countries of the New World in a regional tournament. The USA not only emerged unbeaten in the tournament, but also succeeded in defeating Canada, which had previously won its way into the 2003 World Cup through the ICC Trophy Tournament in Toronto. The victory even vaulted the USA into 13th spot in ICC's ODI rankings, and gave US cricketers some pride-- and hope. (see USA, with a 4-0 performance, are AMERICAS CHAMPIONS).

The second was the successful organization of the first-ever US National Championships in 2002, based on a plan that Major League Cricket Inc had proposed a year before ( see Major League Incorporated (MLC)). Whether this was an intended or unintended plagiarization on the part of the USACA, the execution was reasonably successful-- and again raised hopes among US cricketers that things might be looking up for US cricket.

Persuaded that the USACA might be thinking of changing its ways, Mr. Bernard Cameron of MLC made a formal presentation to the USACA Executive at the 2002 US National Championships, for a cooperative arrangement by which MLC would undertake to pay for USACA's administrative costs in return for implementing their plan (through USACA) for revitalizing US cricket. The verbal presentation was followed up by a written document in which MLC's proposals were fully laid out. According to MLC, there was no response from the USACA-- even the receipt of the written proposal was never acknowledged. This is worth noting because in 2003, MLC has decided to strike out on its own ( see 2003: A SECOND INNINGS for US Cricket.) In retrospect, a golden opportunity had been offered to, and lost by, the USACA-- for no apparent reason that one can discern-- one more proof that USACA Management was simply missing out on the possibilities.

The MLC "affair" clearly indicated that all was not well in the USACA in spite of its early successes on the field.

Perhaps emboldened by its success in the Americas tournament, the USACA had arranged to have an official USA team participate in an ICC-sponsored ODI Tournament in Malaysia. By all accounts, this was a major disaster. USA performed miserably in the tournament, several members of the team were stranded in Malaysia because of bad travel arrangements, and were able to return only after the local cricket authorities bailed them out with their own cash. The blame was squarely (and somewhat unfairly) laid on Dr. Atul Rai, USACA President, because he had come up with ideas and the arrangements for the tour.

Though no one knew it at the time, this was to be the USA's last official venture into international cricket. There have been none since then.

Meanwhile, the USACA was beginning to face its first serious challenge to its control over US cricket. It came from none other than the ICC itself.

Earlier in the year, Ehsan Mani, the incoming President of ICC, had declared his intention to "bring USA into the mainstream of international cricket". This statement caught everyone by surprise-- and the wheels started turning. Talk of megabucks floating into US cricket coffers started floating in the air, and US cricket entrepereneurs with South Asian antecedents began making speculative plans in all kinds of smoke-filled back rooms.

What the ICC meant soon became clear when it unveiled "Project USA", an ambitious plan to develop a cricket infrastructure in the USA that would be able to place a USA team in the World Cup by 2007. This was intended to coincide with the first World Cup to be held in the New World that same year, and it was expected that some of the venues could be in Canada and the USA as well as the Caribbean. (see PROJECT USA Incorporated ).

It soon became obvious that the ICC was not interested in allowing the USACA to exert any control over "Project USA"-- this was to be a purely ICC operation. Andrew Eade, ICC Development Officer at the time, made this clear in a private meeting with the Board of Directors of USACA. In order to save face, the USACA Board members would be allowed to have advance copies of the Project USA plan, and their comments were politely sought. But that was to be it-- the Project would be managed by a professional staff member to be hired by ICC. In fact, there was more than one hint that Eade himself might be offered-- and could accept-- the position.

The USACA put its own spin on the discussions, talking about the "cooperation" that had been pledged between ICC and the USACA. But there must have been some realization that the ICC's idea of "cooperation" was at best a token one.

Meanwhile, the USACA was having major internal problems.

One of the things that had kept USACA alive in the minds of US cricketers was its Bulletin Board, an open forum where just about anyone could post anything they wanted to say. Although the bulletin board had been started by Mr. Chico Khan of Massachussetts before the "Atul Rai" administration took office, it was one of the few "reformist" elements of the Kamran Khan/Mike Miller era that had been continued. However, criticism of the USACA and its President, Dr. Atul Rai, had grown to a crescendo on the Board, and was matched only by the invective of USACA sycophants who saw any negative comments as subversive.

CRICINFO-USA was told that the USACA Executive had tried to control the Bulletin Board to reflect views that were more palatable to the Administration-- even seek out and identify "protesters" to brng them to heel. Those who were still running the Bulletin Board had refused to do anything so unethical. Paul Da Silva, official Webmaster for the USACA Web site, was then ordered to shut the Board down-- and this was done abrupty and without explanation. This had the effect of completely insulating USACA from any criticism-- and isolating it from US Cricket (see The SOUND of SILENCE : USACA's Bulletin Board SHUTS DOWN.)

Dr. Atul Rai had meanwhile got himself into hot water on two other counts. He was accused of misappropriating USACA funds, by writing checks to pay for various USACA expenses instead of also securing the Treasurer's signature, in contravention of USACA rules. He had also allegedly been involved in blocking all efforts by the US Northwest Region, notably those led by Mr. Laks Sampath, President of the Northern California Cricket Association (NCCA), to replace its perenially absent Regional Director Mr. Abid Ali by someone who could really serve the Region. This was because Abid Ali's proxy was supposedly being used by a BOD member from the East who was a Dr. Rai supporter. None of these issues was ever tackled by the Board Of Directors, but they festered on in the minds on many US cricketers, and they added to the tribulations of the USACA. Mr. Sampath did manage to get himself elected to the USACA Board of Directors in 2003 in spite of surreptitious efforts from USACA HQ to undermine and defeat him, but a bitter legacy had been left in the Northwest Region by the USACA -- this will take a long time to heal.

In 2002, The USACA Board took the unusual step of dismissing its two sitting Vice-Presidents, Lesley Lowe and Lloyd Rambaran Singh, on grounds that were never officially disclosed. In their place, two interim vice-Presidents were appointed, with terms of office extending into 2003.

By all objective accounts, the 2002 BOD elections were a mess. In at least two Regions, there were serious questions about whether many member clubs of the USACA were eligible to vote at all. A bitter dispute developed in one Region over whether even the candidates were eligible. The USACA Executive itself was split on the arrangements for the BOD elections-- instructions were given, then countermanded, and finally revised and reinstated. When the elections were finally held, there were few who cheered-- in fact, a poll conducted by Uscricket.com showed that 90% of those responding were dissatisfied with the way the elections had been conducted-- hardly a ringing vote of confidence.

There was still the chance that the "new" BOD would shake off its dubious antecedents and proceed to do something for US cricket.

This hope quickly turned out to be still-born.

First, the BOD, in its infinite wisdom, proceeded to bury its head, ostrich-like, in the sand. Several immediate issues regarding shady financial dealings, election irregularities and other malfeasances were peremptorily swept under the rug-- in fact, they were not even brought up for discussion.

Second, although there had been talk about finding "fresh blood" to revitalize the leadership of US cricket, there apppeared to have been little effort to recruit such new members-- although several "new" names were floated on the Uscricket.com forums, none of them were nominated, or even considered. Perhaps many qualified "outsiders" simply did not want any part of the USACA? And, perhaps no one on the BOD thought it was his job to find new candidates for the Executive posts? Well then, whose responsibility WAS it ? Another question for which there seems to be no answer.

At the very last minute, the USACA published a list of candidates for the Executive positions. Of the ten or so candidates on the list, most were "old hands"-- meaning, they had served on previous USACA Administrations. There were no resumes provided on any of the candidates, only their names. Only one "outsider" was able to get his ideas across to the general public, thanks to an interview published in Uscricket.com . All the other candidates were, to all practical purposes, cyphers except for the baggage that they carried with them into the proceedings.

The results of this process were about what one might expect.

The new President of the USACA was Mr. Gladstone Dainty-- a former Treasurer of the USACA who had been cited two years ago for alleged mismanagement of USACA finances, by none other than his own successor in his official report to the USACA (the only USACA Official other than the much maligned Dr. Atul Rai to be so openly criticised). The new first Vice-President, Mr. P. K. Guha, was elected in absentia, by some mysterious legerdemain-- but the sole candidate for Second Vice-President who did appear before the BOD was found to be unqualified even though there was no one to oppose him ! Bobby Refaie retained his position as Secretary, and Selwyn Caesar as Treasurer. In other words, no change for those positions.

The scuttlebutt on this situation goes as follows: while there was a general feeling on the BOD that Dr. Rai had to be got rid of, there was a fear that this would give the New York Region, in the person of acting USACA First Vice-President Dean Mustaffali, control over the USACA. Mr. Vimal Verma (New Jersey) was privately considered by many to be the best qualified candidate for the post, but he was an "outsider", and (for political purposes) an unknown quantity. So, a deal was struck to support Mr. Dainty-- and Mr. Verma ended up with zero votes.

It seems that the Treasurer's vote was also decided as a matter of politics. Mr. Sid Muthevi had previously served as the Assistant Secetary of the USACA, an ad hoc position created by the Board of Directors. His qualifications were acknowledged by several persons on the BOD. But though there had been murmurs of discontent at Mr. Caesar's equivocation on several financial issues, he was given the nod because that was supposedly part of the deal involving Mr. Dainty.

Behind these maneuvers, several observers saw the "unseen" hand of Mr. Akhtar "Chic" Masood, Former USACA President from four years ago who re-entered USACA politics as a BOD member from the MidWest and who has since held many major positions in US cricket management. Mr. Masood was President at the same time that Mr. Dainty was USACA Treasurer, and had been floating Mr. Dainty's credentials for some time among BOD members. It doesn't take a nuclear scientist to deduce that Mr. Masood must have been aware of the allegations regarding Mr. Dainty's financial mismanagement. Why he was pushing for Mr. Dainty, if indeed he was, remains another of those mysterious questions.

It was in 2003 that real troubles started for the USACA. The International Cricket Council (ICC) abruptly cancelled the "second-tier" World Cup Qualifying Tournament to have been held in the USA this year.

This was a body blow to USACA, at two levels.

First--The USACA, relying on the ICC's original promises, had been preparing for 2003-- after the 2002 National Championships had been successfully completed. 25 players had been selected as candidates for the USA 2003 World Cup Qualifiers. Further, Team USA's success in winning the 2002 Americas Championships had led USACA to believe that its plan for developing a first-class USA national team was on course, and there was optimism about its possible success in the World Cup Qualifiers as well.

Second-- the ICC's PROJECT USA had energized the US community in many ways. The 2003 World Cup Qualifer was an important milestone in "Project USA's" apparent future plans (which were never clearly spelled out, but that is another story). If Team USA could present a credible challenge at the World Cup Qualifier in 2003 (so went the theory), it might be able to actually win its way into the World Cup by 2007.

ICC's decision clearly put the kibosh on both these lines of thought. The 25 selected for the 2003 Team USA had nowhere to go, and were placed in a limbo from which there appeared to be no easy exit. And the goal of developing a winning USA Team by 2007 lost a lot of its urgency, and Project USA was left holding the bag with no incentives to offer US cricket in terms of immediate rewards or attainable objectives.

The USA U-19 team in Toronto, meanwhile, (see USA U-19 Team in Toronto ). had played with spirit and determination, and several kids showed promise for the future. However, the New York Cricket Region (NYRC), which felt it had been out-maneuvered by the "estabishment" in the selections for the USACA Executive, had roundly criticized the USACA for its U-19 team selections as being "biased" away from New York and the NorthEast. It had been developing its own youth program under the auspices of the Region, and felt it could have provided a winning team for Toronto.

It seems that conversations had taken place between NYRC and members of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) about the possibility of a USA Under-19 Team playing in the Caribbean U-19 Tournament scheduled to take place in August 2003 in Bourda, Guyana. The NYCR evidently took these discussions to mean that THEIR (the NYCR's) U-19 Team was to play in Bourda-- although they wanted to include players from elsewhere in the USA, this was to be NYCR's show.

When the WICB published its official schedule for the Caribbean U-19 Tournament, there were some suggestions that Dr. Atul Rai, President of USACA when these talks began, had been aware of the situation but had failed to pass on the particulars to incoming President Gladstone Dainty when he left office in July 2003. In any case, no one seemed to be aware of an official invitation issued to the USACA, which would have been the usual protocol under these circumstances.

At this point, the USACA committed what appears, with limited hindsight, to have been another major faux pas.

Instead of simply ignoring the "Caribbean itinerary", and objecting later to the ICC and WICB about protocol, the USACA decided to take WICB's invitation as having been addressed to it-- and chose to select its own U-19 Team for the tournament. It forwarded its team as the official selection of the USACA-- and THEN informed the ICC Development Office and the Americas ICC headquarters in Toronto about the protocol issue.

To say that NYCR was not amused by USACA's action is to put it mildly. They inisisted that it was "their" team which had been accepted by WICB, and that USACA was acting arbitrarily and without justification. They announced that they would go to Bourda in any case, and defied the USACA to do anything about it.

Enter the ICC in the shape of Andrew Eade and Martin Vierra. Mr. Eade was to depart the ICC shortly in favor of a more hospitable context for his endeavors (in New Zealand), and Mr. Vierra is the ICC Americas Development Officer. The WICB issued a letter inviting Canada, and a Rest of the Americas Team which excluded US players from the tournament. This bore the true hallmark of the ICC, which has consistently shied away from anything that smells of US cricket politics. That was the end of any more U-19 international tournaments in 2003 for the USA-- and, of course, any USA team playing anywhere at the international level for the rest of 2003.

The NYCR said its team was going to Bourda in any case-- and it was as good as its word. It was now a "New York" Team, but it was able to arrange an unofficial match with the Canada U-19s, the champions of the Americas U-19 Tournament, and defeat them handily by six wickets (see NYCR U-19s defeat Canada U-19s ).

The USACA's response was apologetic. It performed a series of mea culpas to US junior cricketers, and promised to hold a national U-19 tournament to "make up" for the loss of the Caribbean tournament. Whether or when this would be possible, it did not say. The task would be a daunting one. But one can hope... indeed, the USACA seems to have no other option.

The Second US National Championship Finals in Houston TX, held during the Labor Day weekend, have been symbolic of USACA's travails in 2003. Having scheduled them in the middle of Texas's hurricane season, USACA saw its tournament washed away by Tropical Storm Grace-- and it awarded the Championship by default to the US South East Zone using a criterion that was immediately challenged by many (see Tropical Storm Grace delivers coup de grace to U.S. Nationals ). Certainly the weather could not be blamed on the USACA. But in how it handled the situations in the Finals and its preliminary Eastern and Western Conferences, the USACA displayed an ineptness that irritated many US cricketers, and confirmed their suspicions that the USACA simply could not get things right. These shortcomings stood in glaring contrast to the succesful inauguration of the US Championships in the previous year (see earlier)-- and were a measure, perhaps, of how things had deteriorated for the USACA by 2003.

The latest rumor concerning the USACA suggests that it is operating in much the same mode as it did in the "bad old" Nasir Khan era. According to a post in a USCRICKET.COM Forum, " Dainty et. al are having discussions with the Lauderhill group regarding games coming to the US for the next WC but these discussions are not being disclosed to the USACA board. This is a side deal that includes: Laks, Masood, Rafaie, Javid, Shahanawaz, Shelton, Caesar and Dainty" ( Note: The "Laks" referrred to in the post, i.e. NW Regional Director Laks Sampath, denied any knowledge of this matter and said he, like Guha, was trying to find out what was going on. ). "Caesar is set to attend a meeting in the Caribbean next week on behalf of Dainty. .. the 1st vp [Mr. P. K. Guha] and some of the other directors have been trying to get information regarding these meetings [but] to no avail...." . There is yet no way to confirm the truth of this rumor, but it does not surprise any one who knows how the USACA operates.

And so it has gone for the USACA-- a litany of opportunities lost, cabals and cliques operating in secrecy, and efforts of well-meaning supporters of US cricket vitiated and neutralized-- a sort of negativeMagister Ludi, where the players seem to match each other in myopia, obtuseness and envy.

There will no doubt be more of these pyrotechnics before it all comes to an end. Or will it? Stay tuned for the next installment.

--- Deb K. Das, USA Coordinator, Wisden-CRICINFO

OPEN LETTERS and REPLIES about the USACA

A large number of open letters, replies and comments were received by CRICINFO-USA during the year 2000. They are concerned with USACA management, dealings and other issues, and are posted here to let readers get a first-hand look at the matters that have been raised regarding USACA's operations in the past years. Readers are invited to check out the correspondence, by clicking on any item to get to an archived copy of the item in question.

(1a)(8/21/00) An Open letter to the President of USACA (1b) (8/22/00) A reply to Open Letter: from Atul Rai, USACA Secretary (1c) (8/25/00) Comments to Mr. Rai (1d) Reply from Kamran Khan, USACA President
(2a) Another Look at the USACA ( by Lesley Lowe) (2b) Reply to Mr. Lowe:Michael Miller, USACA Treasurer
(3) State of the USACA: by Bobby Refaie, USACA Board Member
(4a) TIME OUT explains: An Open Letter (4b) A Reply to TIME OUT
(5) USACA'S Recent History: Bobby Refaie
(6)Reply to Mr. Refaie's Comments re: CRICINFO-USA

For first-hand excerpts from memos and e-mail from all major parties containing arguments for and against the US Junior Cricket organization, and its relationship to the USACA in 2001, click on: *WHITHER U S JUNIOR CRICKET?*
Letters from Atul Rai, Mike Miller and the ICC

-- Deb K. Das, USA Coordinator, Wisden CRICINFO

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Date-stamped : Sept 12, 2003 - 20:52 [an error occurred while processing this directive]