In a sensational development, Atul Rai has usurped Paraag Marathe as the Chairman of USA Cricket, days after being elected as the Club Director. Rai displaced Marathe in the first board of directors meeting after his induction as a director alongside Kuljit Singh Nijjar. Rai took charge as the chairman with the votes of Avinash Gaje, Nijjar, Srinivas Salver and Venu Pisike while Sushil Nadkarni, Catherine Carlson and Nadia Gruny abstained.
Cricbuzz understands that the Chairman election (elected by BODs) was never on the agenda of the meeting as the abstainers found themselves flummoxed by impromptu board chairman election. It is learnt that Carlson and Gruny expressed shock at the timing of the election which was undertaken without prior notice. Carlson made her frustration visible by leaving the meeting after the drop of the last vote.
Marathe may find the ejection particularly mortifying after publicly clarifying his plans of stepping down from the chairman role. In May this year, a USA Cricket press release stated that Marathe would be concluding his term as the chairman after the board found his replacement to the post of independent director, a post he had held since 2018 along with being the chairman.
Marathe, vice president of the 49ers franchise, and a renowned sport executive, was elected as the first ever chairman of USA Cricket in August 2018 for a 2-year- term and was immediately re-appointed for a 3-year-term after his first stint that last for about 30 months. His second stint proved to be rather tumultuous after he and four other directors of the board were served with a lawsuit by Pisike and Salver over an alleged illegal constitutional amendment, while questioning the legitimacy of his second stint as chairman citing an alleged conflict of interest and the expired tenures of some of the directors that voted for him. Imprudently, Salver and Gaje who are in office on expired terms voted for Rai in the election. Moreover, Nadkarni and Carlson who abstained from the vote are on lapsing tenures as well.
One of the highly pressing agenda items that seemingly went unresolved for the cash strapped board was delegating ownership of the treasury from the outgoing director Suraj Vishwanathan and a roadmap to have the financial audit cleared with an independent auditor to have the ICC release funds to the tune of $300,000 payable to USA Cricket. Under a financial crunch, the board missed out on its employee payments in the previous pay period in July.
The new board actively engaged in the possibility of dissolving the Nominating and Governance Committee of the board, a wing administrating internal elections of the board, citing expiry of the term of its members. With the tilt in the balance of power, wholesale changes in the board committees seem imminent.