By John L. Aaron
Congratulations to the USA national women’s team on capturing the silver medal at the just concluded ICC Americas 2012 Twenty/20 Division 1 tournament. With hearts of pure gold, a less than perfect Team USA won all four of their matches, matching Team Canada in the number of wins and ahead of their peers Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, and host Cayman Islands.
The clouds opened up on the final day of the tournament and it rained upon the parade of Team USA, anxious to meet arch rivals Canada in the finals. It would be Team Canada who would emerge Tournament Champions with a better net run rate, and an opportunity to seek revenge against Team USA and their 0-3 loss to the latter in the 2010 ICC Americas 50-overs ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Toronto, Canada.
The 2012 gusty T20 performances earned three of the USA ladies individual tournament awards – Nadia Gruny; Most Valuable Player, scoring 128 runs at an average of 32 and grabbing a pair of wickets along the way – Samantha Ramautar; Best Bowler with eight wickets at a very stingy average of 3.13 per in her 15 overs bowled. Wicket-keeper Melissa Sandy was adjudged Best with the gloves behind the sticks, and scoring a half-ton in her at bat vs. Brazil. The fourth tournament award went to Canada’s Durriya Shabbir who notched up 153 runs at a very healthy average of 51.
So, the USA women come away with not knowing if they were really good enough to wear gold. However, given their stick to it approach, in spite of some shaky opening appearances, may very well have surprised Team Canada, had the rain Gods allowed the much-anticipated finals to be played. It certainly left a bit of doubt as to who from the two would have emerged victorious.
What is most certainly in doubt is, where do the USA ladies go from here? The next ICC Americas Women’s Division 1 tournament would not be held for another two years. Would USACA then dust off its phone books, look up to see whose available then to represent the USA?
Given the lack of any organized cricket development structure by USACA, more so for women’s cricket in the USA, it would not be surprising if the next ICC tournament sneaks up upon us and catches the USA napping at the wheel. It would not be for a lack of notice, but simply put a lack of preparation on the part of USACA, and their obligation to the ICC to have a women’s cricket program in place as part of the national organization’s compliance with the international parent-body. A compliance requirement USACA sought to exact on its member-leagues, without themselves being compliant with the ICC. Strange justice, isn’t it?
With no national program and national tournaments in place, the USA is indeed blessed to have such quality players whom they can call upon in the dead of night to go represent this country. It is a resounding tribute to the women who performed so gallantly without the benefit of team preparation, camp drills, focused coaching or even a pep rally, before departing for the Cayman Islands. How long will USACA depend upon such gutsy performances from the ladies who are disciplined enough to keep themselves in shape and to rise to the occasion when called upon at a moment’s notice, this despite USACA being aware of the recent ICC Americas tournament for more than one year.
USACA must now scramble to re-engage, re-enlist, re-visit, re-connect and re-seek the cooperation of many of the same leagues they deemed “non-compliant” just prior to the recent election fiasco. Without the support of many of those disenfranchised leagues and regions, USACA would simply be re-inventing the wheel of women’s cricket in this country, something they don’t have much time to do, not with the ICC breathing down their necks.
It would be interesting to see what gifts USACA comes bearing to suddenly recognize those leagues and regions stripped of their voting rights, to throw their support behind an organization scrambling to lood good in the eyes of the ICC and to use the leagues and the resources of the leagues to present as part of USACA’s audit to the ICC. It is less painful to strip a man naked and parade him through the streets, than to strip him of his right to vote – a right thousands have paid the ultimate price to exercise – loss of their lives, in this democratic nation alone.
So do all of the beautiful ladies dressed up in silver, have somewhere to go? USACA didn’t take them to the ball, but USACA would now like to claim them and take them home. Have the ladies saved the last dance for the national organization that has so often disrespected and treated them as less than worthy cricketers, and simply as a compliance medium for the ICC?
When the Under-19 men’s team returned from the World Cup in New Zealand, an opportunity for them to stay afloat and to participate in the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship went a begging, because the USACA leadership exercised a bullying agenda, thus denying the young men an opportunity to compete alongside their college peers.
There was no sustainable program in place for the Under-19 lads, until USACA reached back and grabbed a few of them to insert into a revamped senior men’s team. Too little, too late?
One can only hope that USACA would have a program of sustainability for its Under-15, Under-17, Under-19, Women’s and Men’s squads after basking in any of the teams’ victorious glories or defeats. The constant postponement and cancellation of national tournaments is not only frustrating for the players who put their hearts and souls into their practices, but it’s shameful of USACA, and leads one to believe that national cricket will become the collateral damage of commercial cricket in this country, as USACA’s leadership focuses on Cricket Holdings America, LLC as its bread-basket. But bread-basket for whom?