By Jamie Harrison
When ACF announced the 40-over American Cricket Champions League last year, we made the point that this competition began the process of creating a playing structure for cricket in the United States – something that it has lacked for fifty years under USACA’s leadership.

American Cricket Federation CEO, Jamie Harrison.

We later added the North American Cricket Championship and the National Championship Tournament as bookends to the season; again to give some sense of purpose and context to the US domestic season.

Since then, many people have asked me what exactly we are going for – what the completed structure will look like. I can now tell you that what we are going to emulate, as much as possible, is the English County system, with US leagues filling the roles of English counties.

We’re going to work with our leagues to help them develop more comprehensive programs and playing structures within themselves, so that eventually, in addition to the national 40-over competition, there will be a multi-day first-class competition, a national 20-over competition and a national women’s competition, just as you see in England.

I also anticipate that there will be “first-class” leagues, “minor” leagues and, just as you see with the likes of the MCC, Oxford and Cambridge in England, other first-class teams that, when playing our first-class leagues, have those matches counted as first-class matches.

We want to help our leagues to develop women’s teams and multi-faceted youth programs, not only so that they can participate in competitions, but primarily so that cricket in the United States can thrive and survive.

Just as in England, I want to see overseas players restricted to one player, per team, per season. Our domestic cricket structure, if it is to be successful, must always be about developing our domestic players, rather than about providing commercial opportunities for promoters, wannabe cricket moguls and overseas professionals.

When we set out, we started with the national 40-over competition, but my goal is to see ACF add the other elements as soon as practicable. The bottom line is that we need match experience against elevated competition in the States, and that’s not going to happen by talking.

So, going forward, when you look at an ACF member league, don’t think of them as just a bunch of backwater Americans playing at cricket. Think of them as Yorkshire, only 150 years ago, ready to step out onto the big stage.

Of course, George Freeman never had his heroics posted on Twitter, so we already have that advantage.

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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