By Sakhi Muhammad
Written Exclusively for USACRICKETERS.COM
We all are very excited about the success of the US National Team, the possibility of franchise cricket and the future direction of USA Cricket. It is essential not to get overly excited as the more significant responsibilities are always on our way once we move up. We must pick new priorities after achieving ODI status, to develop cricket and build American fans by building facilities and providing competitive cricket regularly.
We must put together a highly competitive structure which provides a layer before US Team selection; a platform for the youths who may not be lucky enough to make it to the National Team or Under-19 squads. We need a platform which can provide some sense of purpose to continue playing cricket and satisfy the hunger of those players not selected to the National Team. I would like to divide US Cricket into three layers. National Team being the first layer, US first-class structure as the second layer, and club cricket under leagues as the third layer. A franchise system cannot be classified here based on its real commercial purpose, and 50% of the investment in the franchise system must be spent on domestic cricket if American cricket fans are going to buy the tickets then the money must be put back into the domestic system.
This second layer needs proper planning while focusing on a more extended season preferably 4-6 months. A lot of people talk about State teams which I am not in favor of, as it will not build any fan support which usually comes from cities. There is a certain sense of ownership which comes to the teams named after cities. This recommended second layer structure needs to be conducted under USA Cricket with set rules and guidelines and could be called USA First-class cricket.
City-based teams can be started with the following criteria:
1) A recognized league should be given the option to head a city-based team. The league must fund the team with all matches played on turf wickets. If a league cannot guarantee financial responsibilities, then the team should be awarded to private investors. If one greater City has more than one interested party, then new teams should be awarded suburban City names. More teams within a close geographical area could be less expensive for competitions.
2) Each team must have three players within the 15-19 years age range, as part of its squad. On game day any player on the active roster of 13 should be able to bat, bowl or field with a max outs to remain at 10. We do not need to follow what the rest of the world is doing, we need to build what is suitable for the players and the game here.
3) City teams should play Home/Away games within the Region during the regular season.
4) The winner of each Region should compete in the National Championship. If the USA Cricket (Governing Body) does not have funds to conduct Regional or National Championships, then they must award it to private parties if someone is willing to back it up.
5) A season fee for each player should be fixed across the country and violators must be expelled from all competitions. Player compensation can further be divided into sub-categories while keeping the affordability, profitability, and continuation of the plan in mind.
6) No City should be awarded a team unless they are willing to play on turf wickets, a City team which does not have turf wickets should be given an option to play their games in a different city wherever a turf wicket is available within the region.
7) All City games must be live-streamed.
8) The National Champion should be guaranteed a spot in the upcoming franchise system and hosting of the following year’s National Championship.
9) Future franchise owners must pick emerging players from the structure based on the assigned quota of domestic players.
10) Left to other ideas/suggestions to make this structure better.