Jamie Harrison replies to Tim Brooksâ€™ piece on cricket in the Americas and makes the case for what he believes is needed for the game to thrive in the USA.
Tim Brooks, in â€œThe Plight of the Americasâ€ writes â€œNorth America has long been seen as a potentially lucrative market by the ICC who have tried every trick in the book to fast-track the USA as a cricketing superpower.â€
And therein exists the problem.
While it is true that entrepreneurs and the ICC have long coveted the United States as a cricket market, it is not true to say that the ICC â€“ or its full member nations â€“ seek America as a â€œcricketing superpower.â€
Rather, just as colonial powers once exploited the Americas for its vast natural resources, so today some full member nations seek to exploit the wealth and affection of expatriate cricket fans living in the States to bolster their own bottom lines. This is why you see cricket being broadcast into the United States on subscription networks, or its rights being sold to ESPN, while the mere idea of a USA T20 leagueâ€™s matches being broadcast out of the United States is quickly blocked.
It also explains the lack of meaningful pressure applied to our national governing body over the state of grassroots American cricket, which contains the seeds from which a true â€œcricketing superpowerâ€ might one day rise. Never once has the USA been threatened with suspension or a cut-off in funding because insufficient attention was being given to development.
Ultimately, however, I do not fault the ICC for our condition, as it is not their responsibility to grow cricket in America. That duty rests with us.
My organization, the United States Youth Cricket Association, is the independent national youth body for cricket in America. USYCA, with over 60 member organisations nationwide, has now placed over 1,500 cricket sets in schools across America, brought our game to hundreds of thousands of children, and has launched new community youth cricket programs and leagues in multiple places.
We are also the gathering place for established junior cricket programmes that seek support for their efforts and an infrastructure within which they can flourish. For example, USYCA now offers to share the expense of building youth pitches with its members.
It is in this nascent sports ecosystem that one can see the seeds already beginning to take root, giving hope to those who genuinely seek an American cricket â€œsuperpowerâ€.
The story of cricket in America is truly contradictory, because for every failure at the top there is a success at the bottom. If one chooses to judge us by what is written about our national governing body, there is little reason for optimism. On the other hand, one might consider that there are 42 million children in the United States, and that cricket is now beginning to spread among them. The long-term math is in our favor.
USYCA offers no get-rich-quick schemes for cricket in this country and I, for my part, wish that the ICC would simply stop trying â€œevery trick in the book to fast-track the USA.â€ There are no shortcuts to success in cricket, just as there are none in life, and we have to stop wasting precious time and resources looking for them.
What American cricket needs now are not shortcuts and fast-tracks, but partners and visionaries â€“ preferably ones with enough patience to do the job right. Of course, this means deferring the dream of extracted American wealth; no doubt a price too steep for many.
In the end, we here are left with a slowly growing army of grassroots volunteers, ignored by the ICC and overshadowed by bad press about USACA, building the foundation of cricket in America, one block at a time.