The finals of both the East Africa Cup and Premier League were played. For the winners of the Premier League, Rwenzori Warriors there was the relief of finally coming good in a finals, and for the winners of the Cup, Coast Pekee, it was the culmination of a transformation of the franchise from chumps to champs. There’s already quite a bit on what actually transpired in the finals themselves, if you know where to look, so this post won’t dwell so much on that. What I’ll do is to concentrate on an overall review of the Kenyan franchises in the competitions overall.
Coming into the season as defending champions. Their record in that competition, 1 win and four losses on the other hand did not not really do justice for them. In the Premier League, however they were much more a force to reckon with ultimately overcoming 2 losses and an abandonment to come within 3 wickets and 4 balls of winning the entire thing. Indeed overall, their average in the t20, 170.2 runs per innings leading up to the finals, was much higher than the 136.4 they averaged in the 50 over cup competition. The biggest positive for Kongonis is the continuing flow of talent from the club into the franchise, with talents such as the Rudd brothers more than coping with the added pressure of East Africa competitions. This ultimately a good thing for Kenyan cricket.
Running a franchise in the East Africa Cricket Leagues, was new ground for Kanbis Cricket Club. Having pretty much taken over at the Nairobi level, Kanbis seemed to in out of their way to bring back the key pieces from this dominance to try their hand at a higher level. The result was 2 semifinals from finishing 2nd in the Premier League and 4th in the Cup. They were ably led from the front by Rakep Patel. His aggressive batting and cunning off spin was the foundation around which the likes of Vinod Rabadia, Rajesh Bhudiya and Ramesh Mepani worked their magic. As with Kongonis all these are a part of their parent clubs own player development systems. With a bit of exposure in this competition it is hard to see this franchise not winning trophies in the near future. Together with Kongonis this blogger hopes the results on the field can inspire more institutions in Kenya to embed cricket in youth development.
Rift Valley Rhinos
This season was a real struggle for the Rhinos, who together with Coast were the two province backed teams in the competition. Despite some valiant backs-to-the-wall performances by the bowlers in both Cup and Premier League, their batting generally came up short. They finished the Premier League bottom without a win and 5th in the Cup as a result of wins against Kanbis and Coast. This blogger hopes that they come back stronger next season for the sale of the project the Rift Valley Cricket Association has began in the vastest region in the country.
Last season’s whipping boys, this franchise, more than any other impressed this blogger with their performances this season. Led by the acquisitions of the likes of Irfan Karim and James Kamande, the team so an overall improvement even in the players retained from last season, Raj Savala a case in point. They put out a brand of assured batting and extraordinarily sharp bowling to see them finish 3rd in the Premier League and top of the Cup table, do route to a 7 wicket win over the Warriors in the final of the Cup. This blogger hopes that this showing can be a catalyst to faster growth of the game in the region