USA Cricket announced on Friday the hiring of a new interim Chief Executive Officer, Vinay Bhimjiani.
“I am delighted to announce that Mr. Vinay Bhimjiani has been appointed as the new interim CEO of USA Cricket. Vinay comes from the Business and Finance world and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in helping embryonic businesses in their critical growth stages and providing professional management.” Atul Rai, Interim Chair of the USA Cricket Board, said in the announcement. “I am excited and very optimistic about the appointment of Vinay and I believe strongly that this is the beginning of a fantastic new chapter in the history of USA Cricket.”
The hiring comes nearly two weeks after the USA Cricket AGM, in which Rai named the search for a CEO as a priority. That reprioritisation may have surprised some USA Cricket (USAC) members, after Rai’s own letter to members only nine days prior to the AGM stated that ”until we bring back financial stability, and we are able to balance our budgets, we will not be able to move forward with any such appointments.” Rai’s letter also revealed that USAC employees and players had gone unpaid, and that the ICC had withheld Q3 funding due to USAC missing the deadline for Q2 financial reporting.
No mention was made throughout the October 9 AGM of a timeline for when employees could expect to be paid, nor was the payment of employees cited as a priority by any speaker. With the ICC’s Head of Global Development William Glenwright and ICC Americas Regional Manager Fara Gorsi present at the AGM, Rai claimed that the ICC would soon resume funding. Rai and members of the board had met with Gorsi and Glenwright in the days in between Rai’s letter to USA members and the AGM.
Bhimjiani’s hiring comes as many USAC employees enter their third month without pay, and some contractors approach six months since their last paycheck. Atul Rai assumed the position of interim Chair in mid August, and USAC have since planned, announced, and held the 2022 U19 Women’s National Championships, and just this week announced plans for a U15 Men’s National Championship. Questions submitted to USAC ahead of the AGM about employee payment went unasked at the AGM, and Emerging Cricket’s attempts to gain clarity from USAC on their expected timeline for paying employees have likewise gone unanswered.
The questions around staff payments are especially pressing in the context of the financial presentation at the AGM, which revealed a debt of roughly $650,000 at the start of 2022. The presentation listed two unplanned budget variances for 2021: the Ireland Series ($0 budgeted, $400,079 spent), and Admin Costs ($136,650 budgeted, $794,692 spent). The Ireland series had been planned on short notice for the Christmas holiday, immediately following the US Open Cricket (a privately-run tournament backed by American cricket entrepreneur Maq Qureshi). Sources have told Emerging Cricket that numerous cricketers, both local and overseas, contracted Covid-19 at or around the US Open – including several USA and Ireland squad members.
During the US Open, the USAC staff liaison Kirk Greaves protested the handling of Covid protocols by tournament organiser, Cricket Council USA (CCUSA). In a December 12 game between Samp Army and Florida Scorpions in Lauderhill FL, Samp Army owner Ritesh Patel alleged that the Scorpions took to the field with active Covid-19 cases in the team. Greaves intervened, delaying the game and requesting that centrally-contracted USAC players be removed from the game. In response, CCUSA called local law enforcement against Greaves, and he and another USAC staff member were eventually escorted from the grounds by Broward County police.
In a letter addressed to USAC Operations Director Richard Done, CCUSA Chair Maq Qureshi acknowledged the encounter, denied that Scorpions players tested positive for Covid, claimed that the tournament did not fall under USA Cricket oversight, and announced a life-long ban of Mr. Greaves from the tournament.
Immediately following the US Open, USA and Ireland had to make four changes to each of their squads due to covid positive tests. USA and Ireland managed to split the two scheduled T20I matches, but eventually had to cancel the three planned ODI matches due to further Covid outbreak in the camps. The cancellations resulted in a loss to USAC of over $150,000.
Emerging Cricket reached out to USAC, enquiring whether any investigation into this incident had occurred, and if so, what was the result of that investigation. USAC did not reply.
Greaves, meanwhile, was terminated in April and has filed a civil rights lawsuit against USAC for employment discrimination, further adding to USAC’s financial difficulties. Emerging Cricket intends to make no implication that Greaves’ termination was tied in any way to the incident at the US Open.
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