Tuesday, June 5, 2012

There’s a New Kid in Town, or, American Cricket Federation is Formed

In the interests of fairness and transparency, I must tell you that I did not even attempt to contact the Unites States of America Cricket Association for a reaction to this story. It seemed like such a waste of time, frankly, so I didn’t bother. The one time I received contact back from the organization was by going through the ICC.
One of my favorite western-themed movies is “The Quick and the Dead.” This 1995 film starred Sharon Stone as an unnamed woman seeking revenge for her father’s death. To do this, she enters a gun-fighting contest held in the old west town of Redemption. The town’s ruthless leader, and the man who killed Stone’s father, is played by Gene Hackman. Hackman’s character is known as having the quickest draw among all the gunfighters, although his arrogance, age and increased competition make him (in my opinion) vulnerable. Eventually (without going through the ins and outs of the plot), Stone and Hackman face off in a good old-fashioned main street showdown and she beats him. A good man is made marshal of the town, and the elements of lawlessness and hate are shown the way out of town.

I begin this blog post in such a way because I see a new development in American cricket in these terms. Heads up, USA Cricket Association—there’s a new kid in town and this time you may be in trouble.
The new kid is called the American Cricket Federation. The group is made up of more than 20 cricket leagues from throughout the United States.

“Cricket clearly has historic roots in the United States of America,” according to Federation spokesman Gingraham Singh. Singh, who serves as Associate Dean for School of Business School San Diego State University, quotes a recent article on Dream Cricket (http://www.dreamcricket.com/) which reported that “Cricket has been played in America for three centuries and the United States is responsible for many historic cricketing firsts including the first international cricket match, first overseas tour and first overseas tour by a collegiate team.”

“With such historical roots and strong demand … [and] with 15 million fans and 200,000 players across the 50 states,” Singh points out, “cricket is poised to take a more prominent role in the United States of America.”

The problem for many cricket fans in the United States is that this role is in the hands of the United States of American Cricket Association. The USACA has seen a great deal of trouble, having been at one time suspended by the International Cricket Council and having been hampered by what many call leadership which is, at best, incompetent and, at worst, criminal.

“There is no transparency, selective inclusion, and really no grassroots participation,” according to Singh in describing the USACA, “hence the founding principles of the AFC.”

Those founding principles, says Singh, include “transparency, authentic political inclusion and effective participation. Cricket is rooted within ‘leagues’ across the nation.  The AFC recognizes that a structure and critical role for the leagues must be provided.”

The ACF this past week announced its mission statement that reflects those principles:

“ACF’s mission is to inspire Americans to play and to excel at cricket and to make cricket the preeminent bat-and-ball sport in the United States.
“ACF will achieve this by:

“partnering with players, fans, clubs, leagues, corporations, state and local governments, schools and colleges across the nation;

“-providing educational, technical, logistical and financial support to its members and creating resources that will serve to enhance the quality of cricket, events and infrastructure.

ACF will uphold and promote cricket’s values of transparency, inclusiveness and fairness.”

Wow. “Make cricket the preeminent bat-and-ball sport in the United States.” That is no small goal. The ACF has a lot of work ahead. That being the case, then, is the American Cricket Federation an attempt to encourage, assist or replace the USACA?

“The AFC’s mission is ambitious and bold,” is how Singh answers that question. He does say that the AFC has an International Relations Committee, and a strategy for contacting the International Cricket Council “is currently being constructed.”

There looks to be a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on to build up the organizational structure of the group. The ACF has a new Web site up and running, although it is still in the early stages of development:  http://www.cricketfederation.com/ is the current address. The American Cricket Federation can also be found on Twitter (@AmerCricketFed) and Facebook (American Cricket Federation page).

It is early days in this effort. Will the ACF continue to grow and compete with or replace the current USACA organizational structure, which has had so many problems? Or will it fall to the side, shot down by a ruthless and powerful enemy? Only time will tell. But for American cricket fans, especially those who feel the USACA has held the game back here in the States, there is perhaps a hint of tenseness in the air, a whiff of a coming showdown and the hope that, whatever the outcome, the winner will be cricket in the United States.

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