Right now, in Namibia, the USA men’s cricket team is slumping to a loss against Oman in their first match of the World Cricket League, division 2. But, for me, the more important story is this:
Peter Della Penna, a freelance cricket journalist who has bylines all over the world, has been the one journalist covering US cricket for the most of the last decade, if not longer. He was there when the shitshow that was USACA was running the game into the ground. And he is there now, in Namibia, as the US men try to gain full ODI status.
But, apparently, he broke some sort of random protocol and the board banned him from the locker room, denying access to the one journalist who has covered them. Peter was the one exposing USACA for the corrupt and greedy organization it was, paving the way for USA Cricket to swoop in and save the day. Which, in a lot of ways, they did. I am more excited about USA cricket now than I have ever been. A lot of that is down to how the board has managed the game, and a lot of it is down to Peter’s coverage. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t know the half of it.
He is a fan of USA Cricket, of course, being an American, but instead of swooning, he does the one thing he knows how to do best in order to support the game he loves: cover it well and objectively as a journalist. And he is has done that. Putting in the long hours and the hard work and the hustle, giving us all back at home frontline views of the team as they play in backwater leagues and tournaments all over the world.
But more than that, he is the one journalist covering not just team USA, but a bulk of the non-Test world. He has covered these little tournaments with no fans and no cameras for years. To silence that voice, the voice you need to promote your game, you are doing nothing but shooting yourself in the foot. Twice. For not only are you cutting off access to the only American journalist covering you — no hyperbole — but you are also alienating your fan base. For every American cricket fan is also a fan of Peter’s work. We read every article he publishes, we follow him on Twitter, and we bloggers have a deep respect for his ability to simply churn out quality content on topics that literally no one else is writing about. He found a niche and he exploited it. He’s the moneyball of cricket journalism. And all of us struggling cricket writers cannot help but celebrate that.
The response on Twitter was swift and predictable. Here is but a sample:
That last one is important. Because what did Peter do this morning? He woke up, went down to the ground, and did his job. Because that’s what journalists do.
Personally, this is just an all around bummer. Here’s why:
After the shambles that was USACA, I thought my home board had finally turned a corner, and gotten past those dark years when Gladstone Dainty was in charge. But, alas, no. USA Cricket has proven to just be another run of the mill corrupt cricket board. A corrupt cricket board with a group of talented young cricketers who deserve far, far better. In fact, based on Peter’s note above, it’s even worse now. More closed doors, more decisions made without the light of the press on them. The other sports in America welcome press coverage, even the most unfavorable. And until USA Cricket does the same, they will just be another footnote not just in American sports, but in world cricket overall.
The decision has sucked a lot of the fun out of this tournament, a tournament that I was really looking forward to. But, I will still watch, and I will still hope these exciting young cricketers can qualify for ODI status. At the end of the day, it’s the players, not the board, that matters, that deserves my support. I just wish I could be proud of both.
Update: The US lost to Oman by six wickets. Let’s hope their fortunes improve tomorrow when they face the host nation, Namibia. First ball is at 4:30 a.m. CT. Contrary to my post yesterday, which I will update, the matches are all streamed on USA Cricket’s YouTube channel. Which I guess is at least one thing they are doing right.
Cricket for Americans returns tomorrow, with the promised post about the West Indies, and a bit of coverage of the USA men. Until then.