By Sam Sooppersaud
A couple of days ago I returned home to Queens, New York, from a visit to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I attended the 2011 US Cricket Open played at the beautiful Lauderhill Cricket Stadium and neighboring fields. The tournament was played from December 1st to December 4th, with 32 teams from around the USA participating, and one from Trinidad & Tobago, competing for the championship. In the end T&T walked away with the Championship Trophy and the $50,000 cash first prize.
I must admit that I had a wonderful time. I had the opportunity to see the very best cricketers in the USA displaying their cricket skills. It was heartening to see numerous youthful prospects and their exuberance at taking part in such a well-organized and prestigious tournament. The potential for stardom was definitely on exhibition. If only they are “taken in hand” and nurtured, then they would surely contribute to the upliftment of cricket in this country. It was very gratifying meeting old friends and rekindling those friendships.
I was able to see my fellow Masters player and a friend, Curtis Clarke. Clarky and I were part of a NY Masters tour to Barbados in 2007, where we developed a close friendship with each other. I also met on this trip, Barney Jones, with whom I played cricket in the Brooklyn Cricket League in the 1980’s. We all had a great time reminiscing about “the good old days.” This is what the game and tournaments should be all about, spreading goodwill among the cricket fraternity. We all should be ambassadors of this goodwill, not creating dissatisfaction and distrust among the lovers of this wonderful game.
I was part of a group watching the semi-finals between the Bedessee Florida Destroyers and the United Chargers out of New York. There was a distinguished looking gentleman in our group, and an acquaintance asked me whether I knew the gentleman. I replied that I did not. He then introduced me to him. The friend then told the gentleman my name, and his reaction was, “Oh, you’re the Sam Sooppersaud! I read some of your articles.” He and I then engaged in a bit of chit chat on different subjects for a while. Once I realized that he was “in the know” of the affairs of USACA, I steered our conversation in that direction.
I reminded him that John Aaron, elected Secretary of USACA in 2008, and suspended by the President, has submitted his resignation effective November 30th. John’s reason is that he has served the three-year term for which he was elected and hence demitting office was the right thing to do. John also advised that the other officials elected in 2008 should do the same.
He felt that Mr. Aaron did the honorable thing by submitting his resignation. He further backed John’s suggestion that the other office holders should demit office as well because they have no constitutional basis on which to hold on to their posts. But, he said that knowing “those people” they would not leave their position willingly. Two things have to be done: the league presidents would have to convene a meeting and by a majority vote declare the USACA Board null and void, and then in turn appoint a caretaker administration until such time that elections could be held. He predicted that even if the league presidents take that step, “who would remove the guys from office?” Alternative number two was that the matter would have to be taken to court. He pointed out that “court costs money.” Where would the money come from to pay the court costs? The USACA people would use the organization’s money to pay their lawyers. According to him, the USACA administration has already spent a large amount of money on lawyers, between $200,000 and $300,000.
The regime whose elected term of office has expired remains in office. In a way, but, in a way, they have no other alternative. The league presidents have not acted to appoint a caretaker committee. In his opinion the presidents are more concerned with what’s happening in their own leagues. They do not pay much attention to the affairs of USACA. The only time they care is when they want one of their players selected to represent the USA. In fact they have done absolutely nothing. In view of this lapse on the part of the league presidents he has reasoned that it may be justified for the office holders to remain in office, because “someone has to be there to get things done.”
I asked if he thinks the ICC should step in and try to straighten out the problems: the present Board of Directors have once again violated the USACA Constitution by 1. Failure to hold elections by November 30 of the Electoral Year, and 2. Failure to demit office, now that their three (3) year term of office has expired. I reminded him that the ICC had suspended us as an Associate Member in 2007 for “breaching our Constitution” when we failed to hold our elections as constitutionally required.
The ICC is reluctant to get involved in the internal affairs of a member organization. But then again, as you pointed out we were suspended in 2007 for the same infraction of not holding elections on time. Strange how the ICC operates. But, I feel that they would not do anything because they are more interested in China, Nepal and Afghanistan. Those Associate Members have shown remarkable improvement in their cricket and in the management of their cricket. We are having too many problems, too many inconsistencies. Do you think ICC wants to spoil a good thing! They see the USA as a viable and lucrative market. They do not want to do anything that would jeopardize the deal made by NZC, Podar, and USACA.
I mentioned that the Compliance Process was started at a time when serious questions have arisen as regards to the actions of the Board and could there have been an ulterior motive for starting the process when it did.
He truly thinks that the Compliance Process was initially started with the idea of getting rid of the leagues that were not supportive to the actions of the Board: the leagues from which they were getting dissent. But as the Process got into full swing the emphasis was switched from “wiping out” leagues to legitimizing them at the same time getting rid of illegitimate leagues. He sees this as a positive step, one that can only strengthen the organization. Right now only a handful of leagues are complying. Only within the past few days, it was agreed by the Board that the nonconforming leagues would be given a further 90 days to bring their house in order. As he sees it, there wouldn’t be any elections for the next six months.
At the last meeting of the Board held in Fort Lauderdale, they ousted Krish Prasad as Cricket Committee Chairman and replaced him with Ahmed Jeddy. It is the opinion of the cricketing community that this move was a payment to Jeddy for his allegiance to the Board. If we recall, Jeddy was aligned with Board members Krish Prasad, John Aaron, and Tony Gilkes, in seriously questioning the governance of the organization. Then suddenly, he became a conformist. Was a deal struck?
He definitely thinks that this is exactly what happened. Jeddy was compensated for his allegiance. There can be no other reason. Why the sudden change of the chairmanship?
With the forming of the CHLLC it is the plan (and hope) that professional Twenty20 Cricket would commence in 2012 fashioned after the IPL. Does he see this happening?
It would be great for this to happen. It would bring enough funds with which to run our cricket programs. But the manner in which the Board is going about the business of governing our cricket he does not see this happening. To be honest, he said that our cricket is not going anywhere.
There are several people who have announced that they would contest the elections (whenever they are held) for the Presidency of USACA. If the right person is elected, can this dream of Professional Twenty20 coming to the USA be realized?
He doesn’t think anyone of them can win over President Dainty. But whoever is president over the next three years has a lot of work to do if USACA is to regain its credibility.
I asked the gentleman how he was enjoying the US Cricket Open.
He said he was having a good time. He is witnessing exciting cricket, he was especially pleased to see that there are so many young prospects. This is all what the game is about. Come out to a game, meet some friends, enjoy a good day of cricket, not the hassling and all the negatives which are now hanging over us.
Note: I spoke to this gentleman with the understanding that he would remain anonymous. I am respecting his wishes. All I would say is that he is someone who is “in the know” of what goes on with USACA – very much in the know!
The views expressed here are those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of www.newyorkcricket.com