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Varadarajan Slate Stakes Strong Claim For USACA Leadership

By Orin Davidson
March 7th, 2008
It is probably the most impressive blue print for United States cricket for all times because the slate headed by Ram Varadarajan that has jumped into the fray for the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) executive elections, has a restoration plan as comprehensive and ambitious as they come.

The five-man slate has organized itself in a blur of time and has hit the ground running since March 29 was announced as the elections date, with cures for every conceivable ailment that has afflicted this country’s cricket.

And equipped with an elaborate website (www.firstinning.com) which among other features outlines in detail its manifesto and policies, the Varadarajan slate seems the one to beat.

In an exclusive interview with www.newyorkcricket.com, presidential candidate Varadarajan, explained that the slate is a diverse and accomplished team that comes with no baggage or stigma of past transgressions.

“We are a team of individuals from all parts of the country who have never served in any position in the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA),” Varadarajan explained, in obvious reference to the poor track record exhibited by the national body over the years.

Varadarajan is from California while the two vice presidential candidates Shahid Tahir works out of Michigan and Manaf Mohamed from Florida. John Aaron, who runs for secretary is the popular New York administrator/write while John Thickett, the candidate for treasurer is from Texas.

“The idea is to get the best people for the job, a clean slate is needed right now, I plan to bring the highest qualities of inclusiveness, transparency and innovation.” Varajaradan stated.

He cites funding, grassroots development and infrastructure needs as three vital areas his slate will make a priority if elected.

Through sponsorship and staging of international games, Varadarajan said his administration will reverse USACA’s financial woes.

And he is confident they can acquire venture capital through sponsorship from corporate America including business giants like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nike, Google, Visa, Yahoo, IBM, Infosys and other international businesses like Kingfisher.

The aim is to raise one million dollars annually in the initial stages which according to Varadarajan would go along lay towards staging development programs and acquiring infrastructure needs.

This is despite the game being virtually unknown in mainstream America of which interest is a prerequisite for investment from companies.

“America is a land of sponsorship,” Varadarajan points out, adding that in his estimate there are 20 million Americans with cricket backgrounds with links from cricket playing countries around the world, living in the United States.“ That is a population bigger than New Zealand,” he adds. “It is a matter of getting the story across properly which has been lacking, in his view in the past”.

“The right kind of leadership is needed, there has been no imagination evident in the past to raise money, instead USACA has resorted with a begging bowl to the ICC (International Cricket Council),” Varadarajan declared.

“Most of the companies we target are the ones who sponsor international competition. around the world,” added, the presidential candidate who said he has contacts lined up.

In his view grassroots cricket has been neglected and they plan to revive it by “nourishing and supporting it.” Inner city and women’s cricket will be targeted.

Having proper facilities, especially turf pitches around the country is a must for Varadarajan.

His team intends to work closely with the leagues and clubs to popularize the sport and improve facilities through incentive arrangements. “ If for instance a league adopts schools or universities or attracts increased participation in general, they will be given financial help for turf pitches and other needs.”

“You would find more turf pitches in one zip code in the Caribbean than there is in the entire United States,” he lamented.

Varadarajan said their intention is to explode the interest of cricket particularly in colleges and high schools to eventually revolve around inter institution competition..

“We need to have college scholarships for cricket,” he declared, pointing out that insignificant sport disciplines like lacrosse offers scholarships at prestigious universities like Colombia.

To achieve his goals, Varadarajan says his team would need a network of volunteers to fill a number of roles and they plan to launch a national appeal once they are in office.

So far Varadarajan’s slate is the only one made public, and he has already undertaken an extensive campaign.

The presidential candidate said he has already met 90 percent of all the league presidents around the country and is pleased with the responses. “ There has been an overwhelming response, I am humbled by it everywhere I have been.”

Under the new constitution, league presidents will be the ones voting to elect the executive, as opposed to regional directors in the past.

Born in India, Varadarajan, who is CEO and President of Arcot Systems, a software company out of Sunnyvale California, does not believe in longstanding tenure ship in USACA, rather he prefers term limits of not more than two. He expects incumbent USACA president Gladstone Dainty to contest the presidency, but is unaware of any other challengers.

His team all have high non cricketing accomplishments.
Pakistan-born Tahir, is CEO of At Home Network Inc, a health care company of Michigan while Mohamed, a Guyanese is an electrical engineer. Aaron, also Guyanese is a highly touted academic who is a senior college administrative officer in New York.
Thickett, is a successful entrepreneur who trained at Harvard business school in Boston.

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