American Cricket Federation
By Jamie Harrison
The history of modern cricket in the United States is littered with examples of poor governance, political malfeasance and failures by the national squad, so one can perhaps forgive the ICC.

American Cricket Federation CEO Jamie Harrison (left) with West Indies great Alvin Kallicharran at a recent coaching clinic. Photo by John Aaron

It seems as if sometime last year, probably in late spring, it came to the conclusion that the problem with American cricket was that it was run by Americans.

It set out to correct this intolerable situation with a CEO selected from a reliable Test nation and an ICC-funded governance model designed to empower that CEO at the expense of entrenched interests.

Of course, we now know that this plan has been beaten back by the recalcitrant old guard at USACA, and that no serious changes in leadership are seen to be forthcoming after all.

The failure of such a wonderful plan must have been met with much consternation in Dubai (especially after so much money has been spent on it), but I’m writing today to say that there is good news in America, if the folks at the ICC would only care to look.

Every day, the American Cricket Federation demonstrates that Americans can run American cricket, and run it quite well, thank you very much. Here’s what I mean:

Rather than political infighting, backstabbing and double-dealing, the ACF Steering Committee, representing individuals from across ethnicities and geographic regions, worked harmoniously together for eighteen months, building a national organization from scratch. This work was unpaid, unapplauded and largely unnoticed by the cricket world – and yet work they did.

The reason the Steering Committee was so successful is because the ACF vision has become a magnet for altruistic volunteers across the country. Rather than attracting sharks looking out for the interests of self, those rallying to the ACF seek only the best for American cricket. The lesson here is that better people produce better results.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, the higher-order governance model that seems unattainable for USACA was achieved and made operational in less than a year by the ACF. Again, better people produce better results.

Just this month, in another demonstration of what can be accomplished when the right people are in place, a completely transparent, fair election that elevated fifteen high-achieving individuals into positions of national leadership occurred. Three of those individuals are women, something unheard of in fifty years at USACA.

It should also be mentioned that the ACF has a successful partnership with US Youth Cricket that creates a wonderful symmetry between the adult and junior games in the United States. It should come as no surprise that USYCA, an organization with a spotless public reputation that it fiercely protects, rejected an association with USACA before linking with ACF.

Remember also that ACF does not benefit from over $300,000 in ICC funding. In fact the ACF has no major funding, yet still manages to run the organization more effectively than its lavished-upon-yet-always-impoverished counterpart. One wonders what great things might be accomplished were the ICC’s money not being shoveled into the fire on a quarterly basis.

Lastly (at the risk of being accused of being overly self-aware), in a demonstration of keen sensitivity to the 95% of the population that has yet to embrace our game, ACF chose a native-born American CEO, someone who can be a bridge between cultures, and serve as a spokesperson and living embodiment of the hope we hold for future expansion of cricket to all. (An inspired choice, I’d say, but of course, I’m a bit biased.)

In short, everything that the ICC wants to see from US cricket leadership currently exists in ACF, while conversely, after fifty years of failure, there appears to be little hope of change at USACA, either in leadership or in habits.

And if organizations are just collections of people, and better people do in fact produce better results, the ICC, having discovered that it is powerless to change the people, should now do the wise thing and simply change the organizations.

Or, as an alternative, they can just keep shoveling.

This blog originally appeared on CricketEurope and is reproduced with permission. Previous entries can be read at: http://www.cricketeurope4.net/CRICKETEUROPE/ZONEARTICLES/COLUMNS/harrison.shtml

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