The battle for control of international Twenty20 cricket in the United States has stepped up
The battle for control of international Twenty20 cricket in the United States has stepped up after the International Cricket Council (ICC) surprisingly handed the US a place in the qualifiers for next year’s world championships.
The move is widely seen as a bargaining chip as the ICC tries to counter plans for a rebel Twenty20 league in New York being put together by Jay Mir, the president of American Sports & Entertainment Group Inc.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “The committee has given the chance for the top six Associate and Affiliate teams to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20, something they had the chance to do in the equivalent event in Ireland last year, while, at the same time, creating two additional invitational slots for this event."
A rebel Twenty20 league has already been established in India and after Mir’s proposals for a six-team American Premier League set for this October in Staten Island were unveiled, the ICC asked the USA Cricket Association (USACA) to come up with their own plans “as fast as they can”.
These ambitions have been hindered by the often shambolic administration of the game in the US. The US played in the 2004 Champions Trophy series but, outside of immigrant minorities, cricket has failed to penetrate the US and the USACA were suspended by the ICC in 2007 for lacking a “functioning administration.”
That changed in March this year, when Don Lockerbie, one of the organizers of the 2007 one-day international world cup in the Caribbean, was appointed as the USACA’s first chief executive officer.
Earlier this week, Mr Lockerbie visited the ICC’s headquarters in Dubai and came away with the reward of a place for the US team in the Twenty20 qualifiers.
An ICC spokeswoman said: “[Mr Lockerbie] and the USACA treasurer met with every department of the ICC to discuss their plans for USACA and also to understand the ICC’s role in helping them to grow the sport in the USA. “Twenty20 cricket was discussed with USACA and the ICC development committee but this was in regards to the USA’s inclusion as a team in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2009.”
The qualifiers will be held in Dubai and the top two teams qualify for the World Twenty20 in the West Indies next year.
The qualifiers will pit the US and against the hosts, the United Arab Emirates, plus Ireland, Canada, Kenya, the Netherlands, Afghanistan and Scotland. Apart from the US, the other seven teams competed in the recent qualifiers for the 2010 one-day international world cup in South Africa along with Namibia. The ICC has recently overhauled its funding for affiliates and created a more coherent pyramid structure for the development of cricket outside of the main test playing nations.
The ICC has developed the Intercontinental Cup for developing countries, such as Afghanistan, and qualification for the next one-day international world cup has become a seven-division affair, which has just started at Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
The US are absent from the upper echelons of this structure (see below) but Jay Mir’s Twenty20 plans have seen the country leapfrog over many rivals where the game is more entrenched.
ICC DEVELOPMENT STRUCTURE FOR AFFILIATE MEMBERS
Qualification for the 2011 World Cup - Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands
One day international status for next four years - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland
Intercontinental Cup 2009-10 - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, Scotland, UAE
ICC World Cricket League Division 1 - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland
ICC World Cricket League Division 2 - Bermuda, Namibia, Uganda, UAE
ICC World Cricket League Division 3 - Denmark, OmanICC High Performance Programme grant funding 2009 & 2010 - Afghanistan, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, Scotland, UAE, Uganda