By Jamie Harrison
Two months ago, having just completed an event that seemed specifically designed to prove their point, USACA announced that they were abandoning domestic American cricket. Last weekend in Orlando, the American Cricket Federation demonstrated that those who follow the game in the States need not lament their departure.
In March, when the American Cricket Champions League was launched, many thought that ACF was being too ambitious, that American cricketers were not serious enough for a national domestic league. I was told that players would not regularly travel without the hope of a cash prize, or that American players were just too unreliable to organize and compete at such a high level.
They were wrong.
Throughout the spring and summer, seventeen cricket teams from across the United States played home and away matches, just as do teams in any other American national domestic league. They competed for regional division championships, just as do teams in any other American national domestic league. And the division winners then came together to decide a national champion, just as do teams in any other American national domestic league. And now, with that champion having been crowned, the teams have returned home to prepare themselves for next season, just as do teams in any other American national domestic league.
So, for the first time, the United States has a successful, functioning national domestic league. But why did so many think it beyond the reach of Americans to create and maintain such a competition? I suspect that critics relied on recent history under USACA as the wellspring of their cynicism.
What they did not realize, however, is that the failures of American cricket are not due to defects in American cricketers, or even American cricket leagues. The defects emanate exclusively from what has been for fifty years the ICC member in the United States.
When good people operate under the direction of corrupt and dysfunctional leaders, who conduct national affairs with a goal of accumulating power and insulating themselves from accountability, failure can be the only result. When good people discover that their leaders have no interest in them, and those leaders perpetuate a system designed to maintain a small clique that serves them alone, failure becomes unavoidable.
However, when good people are led by good leaders, who act out of selfless devotion to the betterment of the players and the game, success can be the only result. When good people discover that there is a governing body interested in the success of their leagues and their players, and those leaders create a system designed to raise the prospects of all Americans, success becomes unavoidable.
In light of these truths, no one should be surprised when USACA’s endeavors repeatedly fail, or conversely by the tremendous successes which have come to typify the actions of the American Cricket Federation. How could it be otherwise?
And today, another slapdash American team, with players selected as much for expediency and political value as for talent, leaves totally unprepared (yet again) for another international tournament. USACA hopes that the natural talent of American players can overcome the huge obstacles their mismanagement has (yet again) placed before them. And perhaps it will.
But regardless of the outcome in Malaysia, if those who love the game in America ever want to see the United States rise to its potential, both domestically and internationally, it is now starkly clear that USACA must be removed. It must be finally and totally stripped of every last vestige of support so that we can move rapidly forward, especially for the sake of players who are losing the prime of their careers under USACA’s destructive influence.
Those who have up until now supported the status quo because of benefits it brought to them personally must now rise above themselves and place the interests of America first. Those who bear the mantle of leadership must no longer bow before a tyrannical and despotic regime that brings only insult and pain to American players.
2014 will be remembered as a watershed year for American cricket. Going forward, history will remember only two parties: Those who joined hands to save the game in the United States, and those who stood to the bitter end with a corrupt and dying regime.
So, I ask you: When the story of American cricket’s renaissance is written, and the names and associations are listed, in the time of decision, with whom will they say you stood?
And more importantly, will you be proud of it?
This blog originally appeared on CricketEurope on Oct. 21, and is reproduced with permission. Previous entries can be read at: http://www.cricketeurope4.net/CRICKETEUROPE/ZONEARTICLES/COLUMNS/harrison.shtml