With the USA Cricket elections happening in March-April of this year, usacricketers.com reached out to all the candidates competing in the election, with a few questions relating to the election, governance, and their involvement in cricket.
Here is Ajith Bhaskar’s response. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of USA Cricket and Club Director, seeking re-election.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born and raised in Mysore, India where I acquired my love for cricket. I have a degree in Computer Science from AIT University and immigrated to the United States in New York in 2006. I played cricket specializing as an allrounder and after 25 years I still do for leisure. I am currently a member of the Board of Directors of USA Cricket, the nation’s governing body.
What motivates you the most to become a USA national cricket administrator?
Among my goals is to make the United States a full International Cricket Council (ICC) member. Also it is my desire to maximize the vast financial resources here that could catapult the national team to become one of the best in the Region and eventually around the world as well as making the national governing body …. USA Cricket the best organized in its history.
Which cricket league are you affiliated with and what is your proudest achievement as an administrator?
I have managed the biggest in New York, namely the Commonwealth Cricket League comprising membership of more than 2000 members. I also served in a leadership capacity in a number of other organizations including the NYTBCL and Kannada Koota NY leagues. My achievements are noteworthy as under my leadership as Co-Chairman of the Cricket Committee of USA Cricket, we acquired One Day International (ODI). I was Chairman of the Strategy Committee which is tasked with formulating USA Cricket’s first ever strategic plan. Currently I am the Chairman of the membership committee which has around 20k members registered compared to around 700 before I took that position. Also, I started petitions to acquire grounds for cricket in New York including the prestigious Eisenhower Park. The first ever Cricket Bill legislation was passed in New York under my watch after it was sponsored by Senator Kevin Thomas and others who helped.
What’s your vision of where USA Cricket should be if you are fortunate to be elected to the Board?
Already the USA men’s and women’s teams are making whirlwind progress in my time on the Board. Only one month ago our men achieved its biggest victory on the field by defeating a full ICC member Ireland team in a 1-1 series tie here in Florida. I will continue to work on the path defined in the Foundational plan which is for 10 years along the path for us to become a full ICC member by 2030.
In what ways you see yourself contributing to a shared vision of the USA Cricket Board.
My thoughts and ideas have contributed in a major way to our development so far and I will endeavor to continue to make them count in the future should I be re-elected.
What are your thoughts on the current development of cricket in the USA?
USA cricket has made lightening strides in recent years. Who would’ve imagined us being on the cusp of competing on the biggest stage in men’s competitions at the World Cups? Presently we have so many turf pitches around the country, only a mere few years after the game was played primarily on matting everywhere. And by the time the Major League competition is staged within two years, we will have at least five cricket specific stadiums around the country through association with our partnership with ACE. Right now coaching programs are ongoing for coaches and umpires, unprecedented compared to five years ago.
With Minor League and Major League cricket now taking center stage, what role do you see cricket at the domestic and League levels playing in the growth?
It is very important to have our players exposed to higher levels of competition and that is what the Minor League is providing and Major League will offer when it is up and running. Last year we saw the highest number of top overseas players from around the world in the Minor League, exposing a vast amount of our players to stronger opposition in the process.
Last year Minor League Cricket hurt the local and league competitions as top players were missing to the MiLC. How can that be avoided going forward?
I wouldn’t say that local players getting the opportunity to play at the higher MiLC level hurt clubs, rather it was beneficial because those players were given opportunities to learn and improve from the bigger names playing with and against them. And on their return to their original clubs, the local players had the opportunity to pass on that knowledge to teammates, thus raising the standard all-round. After all there should be a progressive ladder.
What are your thoughts on growing women and youth cricket in the USA?
USA Cricket recognizes the global rise in women’s cricket and we made it one of the strategic choices in our foundation plan. We have already started to grow women’s and youth cricket in a big way compared to past years. There are now more domestic women’s competitions than ever before and the junior competitions are also on the rise.
The upcoming election is long overdue by more than a year. Do you think that’s good governance and do you have any specific thoughts on the issue?
Circumstances outside of the control of the administration caused that delay. There was a lawsuit filed against directors that slowed things up as well as the Corona virus pandemic which caused a longstanding standstill on everything in more ways than one.