By Sham Ali
The United States of America Cricket Association has been relegation to division four in the International Cricket Council World Cricket League after a poor performance in the just concluded tournament that left them in last place. The result did not come as a surprise but as another embarrassment to a cricket fraternity that has been calling for the removal of the leadership for some time now. It was the hope that the team, despite the internal ramblings, would have sprung a few surprises and performed well enough to move to division two, but given the sheltered atmosphere under which the team selection process evolved, it was not to be.
The failure of the national team is a stark inditment of the ineptitude of the governing body, USACA, one that has been littered with shady and hallow decisions. An administration that is so engrossed in its maneuverings to hold on to power that it succeeded in burying the nation’s cricket in a pasture somewhere marked reserved for USACA’s leadership with a cracked rusty tombstone inscribed with the words here lies the epitome of ignorance to symbolized the leadership of US cricket in recent times.
Good leadership often inspire its constituents and mediocrity as that showcased by the USACA administration has spilled over to the national team and yielded the results that we have seen played out for the world to see. It is hard to imagine a more horrible time for US cricket. One has to retract to the late seventies and early eighties when the USACA’s leadership then was cloaked in secrecy and had a noose on the game in the country and the leadership now was very active in the administration then. It required a major upheaval from the cricket fraternity namely the United States Cricket Federation, to rescue the nation’s cricket, and now it appeared that the ghost of the past has returned to haunt US cricket again.
It is high noon for US cricket and the madness that has enveloped the governance of the game in this country is out of control. The tell tale signs were there though, the sudden tendered resignation of the USACA’s CEO Don Lockerbie, such a serious change in the climate of the nations cricket and the administration has remained mum so far, the resignation of the first vice president Nabeel Ahmed, the cancellation of national tournament, and the list continues.
And now, the crisis with national team has unfolded after the team has been left to hang out to dry on a continent where cricket was an alien friend. The USA Team Manager Imran Khan said after the team was selected for the tournament “Somehow I feel the people involved in the selection process and involved with the squad have got something right! Currently the national team is incredibly settled and organized in accordance to a plan and strategy that we have identified to be working as proven by the results! However, at the present time the squad selected is possibly the best that could be taken to a tournament of such importance! One player from here or there could be adjusted but when Test level players could not even make the squad then the situation becomes apparent that the quality of the national team is seriously good!”
And, early in the week the coach Clayton Lambert in attempting an explanation for playing the assistant coach was pinned to the wall when he said “Our main reason for coming here is trying to get to Division Two and other than Howard Johnson’s age, if he’s up for trials or selection, he can walk into the team.” And here again with the team is fighting for second to last place USA Team Manager Imran Khan attempted to revive the dead with ‘sugar water.’ This is what he said with his team facing relegation, “Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. We can start to look at our development program in the US, start to give the young guys an opportunity to develop their cricket.” as reported by Peter Della for dream cricket. Does it get any worse than this? Manager earlier you said that the team was so good that test level players couldn’t make the squad. Maybe it is customary in your social elite to insult ones intelligence. This must be a comedy of errors. Manager, you had the youngsters with you sitting on the bench next to you, how much more blessings do you need. It might be good to save the twisted tongue for posterity. The management has failed miserably in performing their duties and cricket was a foreign game to the team. Gentlemen, clearly there is a major disconnect between manager and coach, and an administration that does not give ‘three, four or spit cents’ about cricket.
The circus will continue with the national elections somewhere on the horizons and we may be well advised to look backwards so as not to repeat the errors and hopefully light the path forwards. In the mean while, we may be entertained once again with the arm twisting, the making of convenient friends, and all the talks of what will be done differently to improve game. Until such time, the league executives around the country who has had a hand in electing the current USACA leadership had written, consciously or not, a recipe for mediocrity that is currently on the fire, and must bear the brunt of the responsibility for cooking up the failure of the nation’s cricket with the USACA. And, to go down that road again will reduce a nation’s governance of the game once more to ‘flogging a dead horse’ and to endorse the conduct of the USACA executive that holds on to power like a drunk on a lamp post.