Indianapolis cancels cricket championship

The city of Indianapolis said late Friday afternoon that it has canceled plans to host the USA Cricket Association's national championship in August because communication with the association has "deteriorated" and the organization has stopped looking for sponsors and partnerships.

"This lack of communication has resulted in numerous setbacks which, based on our experience having hosted numerous world-class events, the city recognizes as detrimental to an event of the quality deserving of cricket and the city," John W. Williams, director of the Department of Parks & Recreation, said in a letter to the association's board.

The flagging communication stems from USA Cricket Association's failure to name a replacement for CEO Darren Beazley, the letter said. The organization hasn't provided information on lead-up tournaments that determine regional representatives, which are intended to provide marketing for the national tournament, the letter said. Moreover, weekly conference calls between the organization and the city have ceased, as have conversations between the parties about seeking sponsors and partnerships.

IBJ reported early this month the event was in peril.

The association and city in September signed the agreement to host the championship here. The city planned to showcase the gathering at its new, $6 million World Sports Park on Post Road.

The championship on Aug. 21-24 was to have been followed by association events in Indianapolis in 2015 and 2016.

USA Cricket has been rocked with turmoil since Beazley, who championed the Indianapolis event, resigned in March over the board's reluctance to reform the group's governance.

The Dubai-based International Cricket Council is set to vote in June whether USACA should be suspended as an affiliate organization. If suspended, USACA would lose out on about $400,000 annually the ICC funnels into the Florida-based organization.

“Without the money from the ICC, I just don’t know how USACA is sustainable,” said Jamie Harrison, CEO of the rival American Cricket Federation, told IBJ this month.

Under ICC rules, membership is dependent upon a board's proving it is the sole recognized governing body for cricket in the country. More than half of U.S. cricket leagues have spurned USACA and joined ACF.

Mayor Greg Ballard revealed during a trade mission to India in April 2013 that Indianapolis was looking to host the U.S. Cricketing Championship in the summer or fall of 2014. That announcement made international as well as local news.

Despite some criticism, Ballard gained endorsements for his endeavor from Indiana Sports Corp. President Allison Melangton, Visit Indy CEO Leonard Hoops and a big segment of the business community, including the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Eli Lilly and Co., Roche and Dow AgroSciences.

But last summer, some City-County Council members began raising concerns about USACA’s stability. Some of those concerns have been borne out.

Several USACA vendors told IBJ this spring they haven’t been paid by the organization in six to 10 months. A source tied to the ICC said “Beazley’s departure was the final straw.”

“Darren Beazley was their only hope for stability,” said one USACA vendor. “He was their only hope to gain credibility in the American marketplace, and they ran him off after 14 months. They haven’t been able to keep a chief executive for more than two years because they’re so dysfunctional.”

It’s difficult to say what has caused instability in recent years in USACA, which was founded in 1965. Several cricket insiders pointed to the board's makeup and lack of athlete representation. Beazley had recommended a governance overhaul for the organization, but board members rebuffed him.

Harrison, of the American Cricket Federation, said earlier this month that even if the event in Indianapolis could be pulled off, it wouldn't be a true national championship due to USACA’s erosion.

“We now have twice as many leagues that belong to our organization as USACA has,” Harrison said. “We represent 10,000 [players] in the U.S. We’re coming together and stepping into the void.”

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