Houston Cricket League
Smart Choice CEO and recently crowned President of the Houston Cricket League (HCL), Sakhi Muhammad; an outspoken critic of the current administration of cricket in the USA, chatted with newyorkcricket.com on his ascendancy to the league presidency and his vision of things cricket in the HCL and America.

Newly elected president of Houston Cricket League Sakhi Muhammad (center), seen here with Brian Walters (left) and Samuel Plummer.

Congratulations on being elected president of the Houston Cricket League and the completion of the Smart Choice Moosa cricket facility.
Thank you. Smart Choice Moosa Stadium is a project that is completed enough to host matches, but it is a work in progress.

Can you explain why those who you were supporting declined, and nominated you instead for the presidency of the Houston Cricket League (HCL)?
I had endorsed and supported Mr. Mustafa Hemani, the Central West Chairman, and we  had a series of discussions and meetings to reach an understanding for the future direction in Houston. Mr. Hemani was the future president when I went to sleep on the final night of 2014. I woke up and heard the news about his withdrawal due primarily to personal reasons. Since the deadline was just two days away, I had no choice but to accept the nomination submitted by some clubs. Based on my personal judgment, Krishna Kasturi, who served as Secretary for HCL, was a good choice after Mustafa Hemani. Apparently Krishna Kasturi could not commit to running for the presidency due to the lack of time he could give to HCL.

Can you be a bit more specific on why you accepted the nomination for the position of president of the Houston Cricket League?
Yes, that was the hardest decision to accept the nomination for president with such limited hours on my hand. If the person you believe who could lead with passion, authority and vision is not within your sight, then either you become part of the era where cricket progress will be business as usual or you make things happen yourself. All the ex-Presidents did an excellent job, and all my friends who have been witnessing life in Houston cricket, did not want the presidency to fall into the lap of an average person. Hemani and Krishna left no choice for me. We are lucky to have some very nice and competent people in Houston, I could have supported someone else if I had enough time to meet and exchange my point of views with any other potential candidates.

How many clubs are members of the league, and is the league a current member of USACA?
HCL had 25 teams in last year’s F40 season, but cricket is bringing a lot of excitement in Houston and you will be surprised to know that, we have received requests from 32 teams to play in the 2015 F40 season. Yes, Houston Cricket League is a current member of USACA.

As president of the HCL, what is your position on USACA, and what, if any immediate actions will the league take with regard to the current USACA debacle of Constitutional issues and financial woes?
The majority of the people who have an interest in cricket know my position on USACA. I am very disappointed with the management of USACA, its approach to progress; failure to transfer power to new people who may come up with energy and ideas; and its failure to come up with a solution for US players to succeed. The way USACA handled the proposed Constitutional amendments, proves either they have poor advisors or they cannot see through the tunnel – limited vision will bring limited results. A lack of trust has put USACA on the verge of bankruptcy. Players, supporters, leagues, investors, sponsors cannot see value in return.

What do you see as the biggest hurdle-facing cricket in the USA?
No unity among the small cricket community; relying too much on Cities and Counties; lack of infrastructure; lack of community based cricket facilities; and on top of that non-productive leadership in the running of the governing body of cricket in the country.

Are you planning on running for the USACA presidency in the anticipated upcoming national election?
Absolutely not at this time, I still need to do a lot more work in Houston. I do not want to distract myself without building a foundation that can be seen as one of the examples in the country.

What is your opinion of the American Cricket Federation (ACF) and its efforts to help cricket grow  in the USA?
I am a person who appreciates any work an individual or an organization does for cricket. ACF has been actively involved to help cricket, but they are over confident to get a quick reward. If I compare him (Jamie Harrison) with the current management of USACA then he is a better choice. Mr. Jamie Harrison has approached me a few times to express his desire to have me work with ACF, and I appreciate his trust in me by offering the most important job of GM for his future Team USA. I had to refuse his offer due to my commitment to the group of people who are trying to bring a change at USACA management. I cannot walk away from them just because I have a good option in my hand.

In my humble opinion, ACF is not ready to be in a position for ICC to be convinced to crown them. They have to build some hard structures, and do whatever it takes to work across the aisles, and soften its stance toward the people who support USACA as a governing body. Success is a process depending on the targets we put, we must put certain action plans or else we got to reduce our targets. Mr. Jamie Harrison has his best opportunity to prove his leadership by convincing the large group who may choose to go on their own if Gladstone Dainty stays in power. Good leaders find solutions and find a way to work with its opponents.

What would be an ideal outcome for US Cricket?
Gladstone Dainty should announce his intention not to run, and let new management take over. Assign an important role to ACF, American College Cricket, and Elite Teams. Keep its identity, but work under one umbrella.

What are your long-term goals for the Houston Cricket League?
Houston Cricket League has always been well managed on the local level. We are on the move in the last two years, as ordinary cricket has certainly gotten new life, players are excited and are ready to accept the next challenge. Houston was trailing Dallas, New York, Washington and California. If everything goes as planned then Houston will be the name in the front with an earned title of the Cricket City of USA.