On Friday, February 21, the USA Cricket Board met in person in New York. Among the highlights from a packed agenda were the following:
Composition of the Board
The Board welcomed the recently elected Male Player Director, Srini Salver, and placed on record its thanks and appreciation for the efforts of outgoing director, Usman Shuja. It also congratulated Venu Pisike for being re-elected as an Individual Director for a new three-year term.
The Board also unanimously approved the recommendation of the Nominating & Governance Committee to re-appoint Rohan Sajdeh as one of its three Independent Directors for a new three-year term.
Strategy to develop cricket in the USA
Within a externally facilitated strategic discussion, the Board considered the elements required to grow cricket in the USA and agreed that its focus for the next three years should be on five key objectives: (1) growing engagement; (2) increasing participation; (3) improving the performance of national teams; (4) delivering financial stability; and (5) building trust within the community.
In addition, the Board also recognized the importance across all five objectives of developing better infrastructure and a more cohesive domestic program and set of pathways across the country. It also spent time considering the many operational activities that could be pursued and identifying those which ought to be prioritized.
Paraag Marathe, USA Cricket’s Chairman, explained “In a country the size of the United States and given the size and scale of our ambition for the sport, it is critical that we all align behind a clear vision, set of objectives and agreed priority initiatives. A simple strategic plan for developing the sport in this country over the next three years will enable us to budget, prioritize, plan and monitor progress together and we look forward to sharing the full details of the strategic plan that we have been working on with the cricket community in due course.”
Zonal and national one-day competitions in 2020
The Board considered the proposed playing calendar for 2020 and plans that had been developed by its Cricket Committee and Youth Committee. It was delighted to be able to announce that the following domestic one-day tournaments will be staged by USA Cricket in 2020:
- Zonal competition/trials for Men: to be held in each zone, April 11-12
- National championship for Men: May 23-25, location TBC
- Zonal competition/trials for Under 17 boys: to be held in each zone in April/May
- National championship for Under-17 boys: July 22-26, Houston
- Zonal competition/trials for Under 14 boys: to be held in each zone in June/July
- National championship for Under-14 boys: Sep 4-7, Houston
USA Cricket is in the process of finalizing the specific dates/venues and plans for some of the above, and they will all be announced shortly.
Whilst these announcements focused on men and boys, the Board reiterated its desire to provide more opportunities for women and girls across the country in 2020. In particular, it noted that a series of talent identification events had recently commenced and that the appropriate domestic pathway, programs and competitions for women and girls would be determined and announced immediately after those events had concluded and there was a clearer idea of the size and depth of participation and talent across the country.
Chairman of the Cricket Committee, Atul Rai, explained, “USA Cricket recognizes the importance of staging regional and national tournaments as part of the domestic landscape to provide competitive opportunities for the best players and to help identify the best talent at all ages. We are thrilled to be able to bring these tournaments back into the domestic cricket calendar after a number of years without them.”
He added, “It may be that we add further events later in the year, but we believe that these competitions represent a significant step forward and that they complement the rest of the domestic structure that is being developed. As part of our efforts to identify and support boys who might represent the USA at the next ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, we are also planning to select a national Under-17 boys’ team and provide some competitive representative matches for them during 2020.”
Ground-breaking domestic Minor League Cricket
The Board received an update from its commercial partner, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE), on the work that had been done over the past few months towards the creation of Minor League Cricket, the first-ever nationwide Twenty20 tournament to be played in the United States.
The Board is delighted to be able to announce that Minor League Cricket will commence later this year and that it will represent the highest form of domestic Twenty20 cricket played across the country. This is the first significant step on the path towards establishing Major League Cricket, a fully professional league in the United States that will be launched subsequently. In particular, the Board was pleased to note of the following key components of Minor League Cricket:
- 22-team city-based tournament, including teams from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Michigan, Chicago/St Louis, Boston, New York/New Jersey, Morrisville, Washington, Atlanta and Florida
- 9-week season, comprising 170 matches played regionally, culminating in a national final
- Competitive opportunities for the best domestic and under-21 cricketers across the country, playing alongside semi-professional and professional cricketers
- Played on the best available grounds and facilities across the country
- Intended that matches will be live streamed and/or broadcast
- Built around support from the local leagues and overseen by a Governing Council made up of leaders in the cricket community
More details about Minor League Cricket, including the tournament structure, locations, fixture schedule and grounds can be found at: https://majorleaguecricket.com
The Major League Cricket Logo
USA Cricket Chief Executive, Iain Higgins, lauded the advent of Minor League Cricket, explaining, “One of the reasons that ACE was selected to partner with USA Cricket to develop a professional T20 League was that it demonstrated an understanding of the importance of addressing various fundamental issues within the domestic game in the United States. We welcome the significant investment and endeavor that has been put into the development of this exciting new national competition as a building block towards the creation of a fully professional T20 league in the future.”
Whilst there are operational details still to be worked out, we are thrilled to see the amount of progress already made. We look forward to Minor League Cricket delivering a regular diet of competitive domestic cricket and new playing opportunities for domestic cricketers up and down the country in 2020, as the ambitious plans for Major League Cricket continue to be developed in parallel.”
In other matters, the Board also:
- noted that the recruitment process for a new Men’s Head Coach was nearly concluded and that an announcement of the appointed candidate was imminent
- endorsed the content of the 2019 Annual Report to be presented to the AGM of members
- endorsed the realignment of North Carolina from the Mid-Atlantic Zone (East Conference) to the South Zone (Central Conference) for the purposes of USA Cricket’s pathways and competitions