USA Cricket announced their ‘Foundational Plan’ on Thursday morning, defining goals, values, and loosely framing both a 12-month plan and long term intentions for each of five major objectives. Included in the plan is a projected timeline which shows target dates for various milestones, including a 2022 launch of Major League Cricket.
Handsomely presented in a 28-page document themed in an all-American red, white and blue palette, the ‘Foundational Plan’ immediately acknowledges a long road ahead. USA Cricket CEO Iain Higgins refers to the current state of cricket in the United States as ’embryonic’ in his opening letter. With this in mind, the Foundational Plan seeks to achieve five key objectives: growing engagement; increasing participation levels; improving the performance of our national teams; operating sustainably; and building trust across the local cricket community.
The Foundational Plan kicks off with a simple ten-year measuring stick for success. By 2030, the board intends to guide cricket into the public consciousness as a ‘leading sport in the USA,’ and see the USA national structure to Full Membership of the ICC.
The plan affirims and defines values which intend to guide USA Cricket through their objectives. These values are defined as courage, teamwork, community engagement, inclusivity, integrity, and accountability.
Next is a brief explanation of USA Cricket’s strategic choices, explaining four priorities that set the current course.
To maximize immediate engagement, USA Cricket will begin by focusing activities in areas ‘where there is already significant interest in and passion for the sport.’
In an attempt to ‘build the players and fans of the future,’ USAC will increase investment in grassroots, community and youth cricket. In order to find relevance in the crowded landscape of American sports, USAC ‘will seek to position Twenty20 cricket at the centre of our plans and will design (our) key initiatives and activities accordingly.’ To increase the reach and growth of engagement, USAC will invest more into women’s and girl’s initiatives that will ‘help to support a more equitable gender balance and engagement across all aspects of the game.’
As introduced by Iain Higgins in the opening letter, USA Cricket hope to focus their efforts to accomplish five objectives. Each of these objectives serve as metrics against which each of USAC’s five ‘Activity Areas’ will be judged. Currently, these Activity Areas are: International play; Major League Cricket; national development; social; and supporting activities. Naturally, each of these activities fulfill a number of the objectives, but when combined together, the activities check them all off.
Almost as an aside, ‘develop adequate infrastructure’ is included in the ‘Measuring Our Success’ section along with these five activities, but not addressed in the Activity Areas. The assumption here, supported later in the document, is that ‘infrastructure’ is itself a stand alone objective.
Highlights from the International Play action include the intention to develop regional rivalries and content with value and context, the goal of qualifying for the 2022 U19 Men’s World Cup, US Olympic membership with an eye on the 2028 LA games, and a combined bid with the West Indies to host ICC major events in the next commercial rights cycle (2023-2031).
In the Major League Cricket category, transparency is touched on, as USAC mentions the intention to clarify USAC’s relationship with ACE. Minor League Cricket will receive full support from USA Cricket as the first ever nationwide domestic T20 tournament. Finally, Major League Cricket should launch in 2022, according to the timeline, and a ‘fully functioning’ High Performance Centre will be developed.
The National Development category is the only category which checks off all five objective metrics. Headlining the category is the promise of a new digital membership portal for USA Cricket members, which aims to ‘unify all domestic cricket across the country’. Zonal and national tournaments, and engagement with colleges are mentioned. This category emphasises the all-important role of grassroots, listing organised volunteer youth coordinators and entry level programs as a priority. Women and girls cricket is also a repeating theme, and ‘all forms of disabled cricket’ is mentioned.
In the Social category, membership development and marketing & communications are the focus. Increased fan engagement, updated website, and a commitment to celebrating and sharing nationwide content is stated.
Under Supporting Activities, governance, infrastructure, transparency and accountability are the emphasis. This is also the category where one of the biggest challenges is addressed: new turf wickets. A short term goal listed here is to work with ACE to “develop new and enhance existing turf wickets and facilities across the USA.” Introductions of new grounds also highlight the milestones timeline.
The ambitious Foundational Plan will help determine if cricket fans in the USA can become USA Cricket fans. It seems clear that USA will have to rely on relationships with both ACE and domestic leagues across the country in order to succeed. According to some, the cricketing world itself has a lot riding on it.
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Very disturbing statement from Higgins saying this whole plan is aimed at
“people who already play the game”. How does he plan to make cricket “a popular
mainstream sport” if it’s not aggressively promoted to mainstream Americans?
Very pessimistic about this whole plan.