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Op-ed
By Orville Hall
So there will be a big Annual General Meeting in New York on Saturday, and the most important item on the agenda is the ratification of a new constitution. Well, I wish the participants good luck, because if past performances are any indication on how things will turn out, there will be scant accomplishments. The first “red flag” for everyone should be USACA’s refusal to put the document on its website. It was distributed to the league presidents who are part of USACA, but what about the public at large, don’t they have a right to take a look and voice their opinion as well?

Orville Hall.

After all, USACA is a public institution, and as such, all information should be presented in the public domain. Having said that, thanks to the advent of social media; we all have seen the document. As I began to read through the proposed changes, I quickly recognized why the powers-that-be might not have wanted us to see it ahead of the meeting. Could it be they were afraid that some of us would do due diligence, and help to affect the outcome through our on-line discussions? Just a thought. There are several things about this revision that bothers me, and should bother all those, especially the league presidents, who will be voting on it.

1. The outgoing board will appoint the four (4) At-Large Directors.  What madness. Who in a sound frame of mind will ever vote for this? This is clearly an attempt by those who are leaving to appoint their cronies so they can continue to exert influence even though they are no longer members of the executive. This has to be rejected outright.

2. The newly-elected executive members will meet to elect the President, Vice President, Executive Secretary and Treasurer. This is total nonsense. For those who were around long enough to remember, this was done before, and all it did was to centralize power in the hands of a few, who had the authority to determine the future of US cricket. This must never happen again. The voting leagues must insist on selecting the members of the executive.

3. Term Limits for the Executive and board members: No more than two (2) consecutive three-year terms. This is a “red herring” presented to appear as though they are willing to make radical changes. Before you vote on this, ask yourself one simple question. Will these term limits be retroactive? I can almost guarantee they are not, and why should they. Six years out would give these opportunists until about the year 2020 before they can be constitutionally removed.

I would hope that the voting members have looked at this document as closely as I have, and will give a big “thumbs down” to this farce of a revision. However, as I continue to ponder the possible outcome on Saturday, there could also be reversed phycology at work by those who are prepared to stay in power “by any means necessary”. If the proposed changes are rejected, this would give the powers-that-be an excuse to retain the status quo, and they will leave that meeting to continue “business as usual”. Just what they might be hoping for. You all must insist on precise time-tables for changes before leaving the meeting.

However, there could be a “silver lining” here, and it could be the “lie” is beginning to unravel ever so slowly.  In spite of all the rumblings and chatter that occurred in the social media over the past few days about all the things that should or should not done to bring USA cricket back into the realm of normalcy and transparency, none could have gotten closer to that result than the accusation leveled at USACA by former captain Orlando Baker. Baker didn’t mince words, and was emphatic that change need to happen with the leadership of USACA if we are to have any chance of moving the game forward in the USA. In a scathing rebuke of USACA leadership, Baker unleashed his pent-up wrath this week in an exclusive article on Cricinfo.

USACA has come under heavy criticism from player Orlando Baker. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

In it, Baker vividly recalled two incidents which occurred while he was on tour with the team. One including then vice-captain, Timroy Allen, where he was totally embarrassed by the head coach in the presence of all the other players. How unprofessional. Here is someone who has coached at the highest levels, and to treat a subordinate in this manner in the presence of his teammates is shameful.  Baker also recalled another instance, when he was hurt and was on an elevator with the head coach while preparing to head for the airport. Just these two guys on the elevator, and the coach never spoke a word to him. I can just imagine how awkward that elevator ride could have been.

Kudos are also in order for Akeem Dodson, who has spoken out about the shoddy treatment of players at the hand of USACA, and has stated, emphatically, that he has no interest in representing USACA again unless and until there is a change in the management structure.. Here is a young man who first toured with the senior team when I was manager in 2006. He didn’t get a chance to play, but he always maintained a positive attitude, and I made sure to mention this when I submitted my report to USACA one week after the tournament ended.

Two other members who were on that tour corroborated Baker’s account of events. This kind of condescending behavior coming from a superior simply means that this individual must be relieved of his services.  I will never be able to comprehend how US cricket’s best interest can be served with we employ an absentee head coach. Here is someone who, I suspect is paid very handsomely for his services, but, have never taken the time to be available to get to know his players. I am convinced, there were members of the US squad in Malaysia who were meeting the head coach for the first time, and to further compound the problem, I was notified, by a reliable source,  that he arrived late in Malaysia. How can we expect to get the best out of players, talented as they may be, when they are asked to perform under the following program?

1. No full practice games prior to departing the USA.
2. No coaching instructions, since the head coach never came to the US, and was a late arrival in Malaysia.
3. Two assistant coaches who, in my opinion, were in over their heads.
4. A management group that looked, based on pictures coming out of Malaysia, as if they were totally disengaged.

My hat is off and my heart goes out to these players. They knew they didn’t have the necessary preparation for an international tournament, but they represented the USA as best they could. I am convinced that, had this team been prepared as completely as a touring team should, the USA could have easily been in Division 3 today. Instead, we suffered the humiliation of relegation to Division 4.

The tournament is over, yet, not a word on USACA’s website about what went so terribly wrong to get us in Division 4. Not a report, as yet, from the manager or the coach.  I guess these reports will be available at the AGM on Saturday. I wouldn’t be holding my breath on this one, and neither should you. So after all the chatter on the social media this week, let’s hope, for the sake of all involved, cooler heads will prevail, and some “positives” can come from this meeting. Let’s hope they won’t be any need for security presence at tomorrow’s meeting.