On Thursday September 24th, the USA Cricket Board of Directors staged its quarterly Board Meeting remotely via video conference call. Several key issues were discussed and decided upon, including the following:
USA Cricket Foundational Plan (2020-2023)
The Board approved the Foundational Plan for the period 2020-2023. This sets out, among other things, the overarching vision of USA Cricket, together with its strategic focus areas and objectives, as well as sixty key actions identified and prioritized across the different activity areas of the business.
A full launch of the Foundational Plan is expected to be made during next week.
Zonal Trials/Talent IDs and National Championships for 2020
The Board noted that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had presented USA Cricket with significant challenges over the past few months, including that it had been forced to continue to postpone the previously planned Zonal Trials and National Championships for Men, Women and Youth, and the Talent ID Events for Women and Girls.
Throughout that period USA Cricket has always indicated its desire and willingness to return to staging these events as soon as it was safe and healthy to do so, and respecting all of the relevant local health regulations and appropriate COVID protocols.
Following the consideration of the latest risk analysis and specialist advice from an independent medical expert, the Board agreed that it should recommence the planned program of Zonal Trials for Men’s Senior and Youth categories, as well as the continuation of the Talent IDs for Women and Girls. More detailed announcements about these decisions have already been made and can be found here and here.
The staging of National Championships in any category poses a different set of risks and challenges, and the Board agreed that further work should be done to evaluate their feasibility and that it would wait until mid-October before making a decision on whether to go ahead or not with any of them.
Process to appoint Youth Coaches and Men’s Youth Selection Panel
The Board noted that the process to appoint Men’s and Women’s Youth Coaches and the Men’s Youth Selection Panel was nearly complete and that the quality of candidates had been exceptional. It is anticipated that these appointments will be finalized in the coming days and the successful applicants will be announced next week.
In addition, the Board noted that the Cricket Committee was working through a process of appointing six Zonal Selection Panels to assist with the selection of male players to each of the Zonal Trials and (potentially) the selection of Zonal Teams.
Focus on increasing the participation levels of Women and Youth
The Board noted that both the Development Committee and Women & Girls Committee had considered reports on player participation rates and trends in the USA. It agreed that there was a need to focus on increasing the numbers of Women and Youth (Boys and Girls), and that these focus areas were already endorsed within the draft Foundational Plan. To that end, the Board noted that:
- Development Committee had commenced the process of putting together a nationwide entry level program that could be deployed within schools and at a local community level; and
- Women and Girls Committee had commenced the process of putting together a plan to increase the level of engagement of women and girls at all levels of the sport, and that a particular focus of that would be on increasing participation levels.
Further announcements about the progress of these two important initiatives will be made in due course.
USA Cricket Umpiring program and pathway
The Board considered a report on the prevailing landscape in respect of umpiring in the USA and determined that USA Cricket should take ownership for leading the development of a pathway for all umpires across the country, and for the provision of support programs to umpires at all levels of the pathway.
It noted that a final draft of that umpiring program and pathway had been prepared and was due to be considered by the Development Committee at its next meeting in October and would be launched immediately thereafter.
Minor League Cricket – Franchise Exhibition Matches 2020
The Board received a report from the ACE Relations Committee on the recently staged Franchise Exhibition Matches between Minor League Cricket teams.
Despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, the Board was pleased to note that Exhibition Matches had been played wherever it was considered safe to do so, and that the COVID protocols appeared to have worked well to minimize transmission of COVID-19 within the playing environment.
The Board was particularly pleased to note that the overall standard of cricket played was high, which bodes well for the future. It also acknowledged that a number of important operational steps had been put in place in 2020 which would help to establish the long-term sustainability and importance of Minor League Cricket in the domestic structure and that many learnings for next year’s full launch had already been identified.
Publication of 2019 Annual Financial Statements
Following the completion of the independent audit of the 2019 Annual Financial Statements, the Board agreed that it would publish in full the 2019 Annual Financial Statements. This publication is expected to be made next week.
New USA Cricket Membership platform
The Board noted that an exciting new membership platform was currently being developed and that its launch was imminent. Whilst Leagues and Academies all over the country have already engaged with and committed to USA Cricket membership throughout the course of 2020, the platform will be launched to the entire cricket community and details about the membership costs and benefits will be announced very shortly.
After the Board Meeting, USA Cricket Chief Executive, Iain Higgins, explained “The latest Board Meeting was successful in considering and making a number of decisions around a wide range of issues brought forward by the new Committee structure. I am particularly pleased with the Board’s endorsement of the USA Cricket Foundational Plan which sets out what we will be doing for the next three and a half years and why, as we continue the process of building a platform for American cricket to grow and succeed.”
He continued, “In the immediate short-term, we are fully focused on the operational challenges associated with the roll-out of the Zonal Trials and Talent IDs. However, as this release suggests, there will be a number of other significant announcements to be made in the coming weeks that will demonstrate the continuing progress that is being made to achieve our vision of establishing cricket as a leading sport in the USA.”