In the statement below, USA Cricket Chief Executive, Iain Higgins, addresses recent concerns that have come to light on social media in respect of the relationship between the Willow Cricket Academy and USA Cricket, and the proposed Minor League and national team pathways:
The ‘leaked document’:
Neither USA Cricket, nor ACE, nor the author of the ‘leaked document’ were approached for comment prior to the disclosure of the document in question. Had we been approached, we would have been happy to provide the following context and clarity:
- The ‘leaked document’ is an email from a member of the Willow Cricket Academy team, who are making efforts to develop top tier cricket academies across the United States. These academies represent one of the many significant investments that ACE/Major League Cricket is making towards the development of the sport in the United States. The primary objective of the academies is to identify and nurture talented boys and girls across the country in professional academy environments with well-developed indoor and outdoor facilities, programs and professional coaching structures in line with best practices from around the world.
- The e-mail simply highlights a number of significant events that are on the horizon for young players in the United States and sets out what is expected of any individual player who decides to enroll in one of the Willow Cricket Academies in order to participate in what they are calling ‘Vision 2020’. Those expectations are similar to most private academy enterprises in any sport, and do not in any way involve, restrict or bind USA Cricket.
- Despite what has been suggested in media reporting of this document, it does not state (or even suggest) that participation in the forthcoming Minor League is by invitation only and/or restricted to registered WIllow Cricket Academy members. This suggestion is a complete misrepresentation of the content and objective of the email which relates entirely to the Willow Cricket Academy Vision 2020.
The Minor League:
As highlighted in my November and December community blogs (which can be found here and here) and the media release that followed the USA Cricket Board meeting in November 2019 (here), USA Cricket and ACE have been working diligently together over the past couple of months to put plans together to be able to launch a successful Minor League in late summer 2020. It is likely to be the case that, where feasible, certain teams may commence practice matches as early as April 2020.
We are extremely excited by the progress we have made, and believe that the creation and initial edition of the Minor League can be a significant development in improving the overall domestic cricket structure in the United States. We look forward to being able to announce the full plans (including launch dates, venues and other details) immediately after they have been considered by the USA Cricket Board at its next meeting on 21 February.
USA Cricket’s pathways, programs and national team selection:
USA Cricket is committed to identifying and nurturing the best talent available across the entire country in order to help to build and sustain high performing national teams at all ages. In order to achieve this, we need to be as inclusive as possible and we support and encourage healthy competition and initiatives by all academy and coaching groups across the country.
I also want to take this opportunity to clarify that all junior players, no matter which academy or coaching program they are part of or are associated with, will have equal access to USA Cricket’s official junior pathways, programs and national team selection. It is anticipated that details of these will also be announced following the USA Cricket Board meeting on 21 February.
USA Cricket continues to be grateful to the countless volunteers who support the development of the sport across the country, and particularly those that are working to provide opportunities to boys and girls, whether through schools, communities or private academy systems, irrespective of where they are based or their ownership structure.