Dainty confident US will not be suspended by ICC
Gladstone Dainty, the president of the United States of America Cricket Association, does not believe the International Cricket Council will suspend the US from international competition any time soon.
The US are due to play alongside Bermuda, Canada and Suriname in May in the ICC Americas Twenty20 First Division tournament in Indianapolis, which will serve as a regional qualifier for the World Twenty20 qualifiers in Ireland two months later.
Asked if he could envisage any situation in which the US was not represented at May's tournament, he answered: “No.”
Dainty and the Usaca board were the recipients of a strongly worded letter from the ICC in January, with the game's governing body expressing serious concerns about how the game is being run in the US.
The letter threatened to suspend the country “with immediate effect” unless the concerns were satisfactorily addressed, which Usaca believes it has done in its reply. Dainty, meanwhile, is of the opinion that the ICC needs to get its own house in order before it looks at his.
“The ICC has many issues far greater than the ones we are handling in the US,” Dainty said. “When you are a sport dominated in a few hands in a few countries, then it is not in the best financial condition.
“It's easy to criticise Dainty and the United States — and we have problems — but we're low-hanging fruit. I don't think going after Dainty is going to solve the problem. I think we [cricket] need to clean our acts up and make sure enough resources and opportunities are given to the players.”
Usaca's finances are a significant concern for the ICC, with the US governing body reportedly some $4 million in debt. However, Dainty said that to suggest his organisation was broke was “not correct”.
He said: “We are putting a complex jigsaw together. If it was easy, it would have been done years ago. A lot of people in the United States invest a lot of money and a lot of time into sport, and unfortunately it's not enough. Sometimes our behaviour turns off people who have sufficiency of funding.”
Money, or lack thereof, is a constant issue for the US, as it is for many of the Associate Members, and Dainty believes an increase in funding from the ICC would go a long way to solving many of his country's ills — and those of others in predicaments such as theirs. That does not look like happening any time soon, however, and it is because of this situation that Usaca has again turned its attention to creating a professional league.
The American governing body's connection with Cricket Holdings America LLC, of which Dainty is the chairman, was another area of concern addressed by the ICC in its letter in January, specifically the licensing of “rights to international and domestic T20 cricket within its jurisdiction to a third-party company with private ownership interests”.
According to sources within the ICC and Usaca, Dainty and the board have been in talks about starting a new franchise-based league with a company in Dubai called Arena Sports, whose “cricket development unit” includes Robin Singh, whom Usaca employed as a high performance coach on several occasions. Singh's employment has not been without controversy, and part of a loan of $200,000 made to Usaca by the ICC is believed to have been used to pay the former India all-rounder, in violation of the terms on which the loan was granted.
Usaca is also understood to have had talks with Arena Sports two years ago, and then, as is believed to be the case now, the ICC reportedly put a block on the deal, allegedly telling the Dubai firm “to not enter into any agreements with Dainty”.
The Usaca president, though, believes the US is ready for a league to rival the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League in Australia. He sees it as a commercial opportunity that not only will improve the standard of Associate cricket in the region, but could “help fund grassroots programmes for American boys and girls”.
He said: “We've had a lot of suitors before and they had good intentions. They were mysteriously not supported in the end and in some cases there are stories of them being driven away.
“I would say that with this one, we're being very careful. We're trying to make sure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed. We are always working for opportunities not only for United States cricketers, but also for our colleagues in the Americas region and Associates around the world.”
Dainty's plans may all come to nothing, however, because he still has to win re-election as president next Wednesday, with concerns having been expressed already about the validity of some of the voting members. Even then, the threat posed by the American Cricket Federation, allied to the ICC's concerns, could lead to Usaca being removed as the governing body of cricket in the US.
According to Dainty, though, the country is not as fractured as some would believe, and far from being on the verge of collapse, the Usaca president believes those leagues that have broken away can still be brought back into the fold.
“I see it [the domestic structure] as a jigsaw of pieces,” Dainty said. “Some fit together really [well] and others not so well. The overall picture is clear and it is hard work to get the hundreds of pieces all fitting together, but we are close.”