Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Cricket League for, by, and about American Cricketers

A league by, for and about American cricketers. That’s how the Chief Executive Officer of the American Cricket Federation describes the new American Cricket Champions League.

“I have for years thought that American domestic cricket lacked structure and context,” says Jamie Harrison of today’s ACF announcement, “and when I came on as CEO, this was one of my first proposals. Having said that, I quickly learned that others, such as Shantha Suraweera (Orange County Cricket Association) and Leighton Greenidge (Southern Connecticut Cricket Association), had been saying the same thing, so I'm sure that lots of people had this idea over time.”

According to a press release from the ACF, the American Cricket Champions League will be a 40-over competition consisting of the best players from seventeen cricket leagues from across the United States.

“The ACCL will pit league teams against each other in six geographic divisions,” according to the release. “These teams will have home and away matches, with three points awarded for a road win, two points for a home win and one point each for matches abandoned due to weather. ICC ODI match rules will be used in the games.”

Harrison says the 40-over format was chosen over was has been the “hot” form, T20, because he believes it is the future of short form cricket—and not just in the United States.

“If a team travels four hours to play, a T20 seems insufficient to justify the travel,” Harrison points out. “In the long term, I believe that it is easier to create a solid T20 squad from experienced ODI players than the other way around.”

“The launch of ACCL should herald exciting times for US cricketers and another key step in unifying American cricket,” according to Avinash Varma of the Washington Metropolitan Cricket Board, who will serve as the ACCL’s first commissioner. “For perhaps the first time in US cricket history, cricketers from across the entire country will be able to compete with their peers and play for a single national championship, which will galvanize cricketers, both youth and adult, from across the nation.”

Six division winners from the ACCL will play in a national championship tournament in October. The winner of that tournament will be national champions, and represent the United States in the North American Cricket Championship next March in Phoenix.

Harrison says leagues are free to manage their own selection processes for the ACCL, and interested players should contact their league representatives for more information. One thing he can say with certainty: This league will not be an effort to bring international players in to play cricket for big money, then leave again. This league is about American cricket and cricketers. It will also have local sponsors and team names to try and help develop more of a local grassroots following.

“I want to see players and teams - all of American cricket - raised from obscurity,” Harrison says. “I want to see players get better by playing regular matches against other players of elevated skill. I want to see fans develop of local cricket sides, just the way you see it in any other American sport. After fifty years, I want to see cricket finally progress in this country.”

The top run scorer in the National Championship Tournament will win a Cricket bat, pad & gloves from ACF equipment partner Hammer Cricket. Hammer will also give the ACF Batsman of the Year a full sponsorship, including two bats, gloves, pads, a bag, additional guards and other apparel.

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