USACA sacks chief executive Don Lockerbie
The factionalism which seems to be endemic in American cricket claimed another victim this week with the news that the chief executive of the USA Cricket Association, Don Lockerbie, had been ‘relieved of his position’ with immediate effect.
The dismissal of Lockerbie follows hard on the heels of the resignation earlier this month of USACA Vice-President Nabeel Ahmed, who has said in a statement that his departure was occasioned by ‘the lack of action by important members of the Board, Executive, and division in the Board’.
Further evidence that the USACA is once again collapsing into crisis was provided by the on-going dispute over the representation of the West Coast region on the Board, which saw two rival contenders – Raj Padhi and Professor Gargaram Singh – both claiming to be the legitimate representative for this weekend’s meeting.
According to a report on the independent website On Drive, the dispute broke into the open at the meeting, with USACA President Gladstone Dainty, who continues to support Padhi despite his having been suspended by the West Coast, threatening to have Professor Singh removed from the Boardroom by security. In the end, it seems, the bitterly divided Board agreed on compromise, splitting the West Coast into two regions.
There have also been public allegations of financial irregularities from Board member Ahmed Jeddy, while Padhi is reportedly facing allegations of harassment made by a woman cricketer, which seem to have been the reason for his suspension. And On Drive further reports that there have been threats of legal action for breach of contract, possibly connected in some way with the pursuit of a $10m. commercial contract.
Against this background, the dismissal of Lockerbie will no doubt be setting the alarm bells ringing in Dubai, since he has been an unprecedented figure of competence in American cricket administration since taking up the CEO post in April 2009.
He has been heavily involved in negotiations with New Zealand Cricket, with whom he developed a partnership agreement. This has not yet produced much in the way of concrete results, but as recently as 7 November USACA treasurer John Thickett was promising ‘an eight-figure deal’ involving ‘a consortium including New Zealand to start an entity that will pay license fees to the USACA in order to kind of develop the sport over here.’
Lockerbie was, according to Thickett, ‘the biggest driver’ of this project, but that evidently did not save him this week.
Given the obsession of the ICC Board and its advisor IS Bindra with the American ‘market’, this continuing evidence of the USACA’s dysfunctionality – horribly reminiscent as it is of Joseph O’Neill’s novel Netherland – must be a source of grave concern for the world body.
Exactly what happened to trigger Lockerbie’s departure is as yet unclear, but there must be a real possibility that the Association is heading for another period of suspension. And with the national men’s side doing so well on the field, earning promotion from Division 5 of the World Cricket League to Division 3 in the space of five months, that would be a real disappointment.