The game of cricket has long been one sporting area where Americans have failed to dominate. Unlike soccer – where the hosting of the 1994 World Cup helped to spark greater interest in the game and greater skill amongst its players – cricket is one sport that has never garnered mass appeal in the United States. However, through a new, long-term partnership with the West Indian Cricket Board (WICB), the USA Cricket Association (USACA) hopes to change this.
Raising The Standard of Cricket in America
This new initiative, announced in early May, aims to put the highest-calibre players in the established USACA leagues through an advanced skills development programme offered by clubs in the West Indies. In addition, the WICB has pledged to allocate one of its directors to sit on the USA board, in order to raise the level of cricket administration within the country. The chief goals of this new merger will involve raising the level of professional cricket performance within the Unites States (through training workshops using world-class equipment), as well as the overall financial state of the game.
Troubled Times for the USACA
This new found relationship with the WICB comes at a crucial time for the USACA. Already facing suspension from the International Cricket Council (ICC) due to failing support for and control over the game in America, the USACA desperately needs to re-establish its place as the sole recognized cricketing body in the United States. With rival organisation, The American Cricket Federation already coaxing a number of high-end players away from the USACA, only drastic measures – such as this new initiative – will secure the USACA's ongoing position in the international game. To add insult to injury, a number of key officials within the USACA have recently resigned, including the board's chief executive, Darren Beazley, and high performance manager, Andy Pick. Facing around $3 million in debt, the USA Cricket Association desperately needs to undying support of the WICB in order to continue as a viable organisation.
Last Chance Saloon
The USACA has been suspended twice by the ICC, once in 2005 and again in 2007; both times, due to a lack of governance. With the American Cricket Federation threatening to overpower them as the official American cricket body in the eyes of the ICC, this new merger with the West Indian Cricket Board may in fact be their very last chance at redemption.