This is an open letter to the newly elected chairperson of Cricket Kenya.
First of all congratulations for coming through as the second ever chairperson of Cricket Kenya and first woman chairperson on a major Kenyan sports governing body. Another glass barrier broken for women in sports and management all over Kenya. Given the drama preceding this final vote, I’m just glad that hurdle and you can get on with 4 years of implementing your programme for cricket in Kenya. Niceties aside there is the very serious business of getting Kenyan cricket out of the funk it is currently in and back on to the path it left several years ago. To achieve this task there are a number of things this cricket mad blogger feels ought to take priority.
Firstly is unity, unity unity! And I’ll put it in two quotes. A house divided against itself cannot stand – Jesus Christ. The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach – Sun Tzu (The Art of War). For its entire history Cricket Kenya seems to have been dogged by the ghosts of the drama, intrigue and disunity that eventually killed off the Kenya Cricket Association. Players and coaches I’ve talked to brought it up, It’s been repeated in several interviews in the mainstream press. Even the former Chief Executive, Tom Sears was quite happy to lay the blame of his inability to get things done with the old pre-elections board’s bickering. Whatever dog you may or may not have in these fights, the fact is that the people with responsibility expend way too much sweat on them rather than stuff that has real potential to address the bigger problems in Kenyan cricket and that is really quite sad. From an outsider perspective it looks like a family who’s members are willing to burn down their house and sleep in the rain because they can’t agree how to fix a leaking roof. Player strikes, court cases, vanishing accountants etc, alot has come out in the press that just doesn’t make for happy reading. So long as whatever the root cause of this isn’t cured or at least defused, then I fear that a lot of precious time is going to be lost that Kenya really doesn’t have any more and whatever grand plans you have may never materialize.
The second thing is outreach. It amazes me that after being the first sport to embrace de-segregation in the 60s, cricket in Kenya is still somewhat of an infant, compared to likes of soccer, rugby and even hockey, when it comes to the size of its player base. This blogger is aware that Nairobi Province did take cricket to some public high schools in its territory, but that never quite matured into a th kind of of inter-schools competition now flourishing in several other team sports working through the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association. Rift Valley, Coast and Nyanza have also had a go, with various programmes of their own, with varying degrees of success. I believe that as overall chair of of Cricket Kenya, your office would do well to provide a unifying theme to all these separate moves that their effect on growing the player base in the game of cricket in Kenya can be amplified. There are also the several cricket academies that former payers are setting up nowadays, Rajab Ali’s being the most recent. They need to be co-opted, but not bullied, into one network with a single set standards, accountability, maybe even resources flowing from your board. I Whilst they are likely doing quite a bit on their own, I feel setting a beacon or standard for them to aim for (see the Sun Tzu quote above) would make them more effective.
Then there is the matter of our national teams. Our senior mens team was undoubtedly the strongest outside the full member, but since 2003 the ground has shifted massively from underneath them, and from the past few rounds of World Cup qualifiers, and Intercontinental Cup matches, they hardly qualify to be a big fish on the continent never mind amongst fellow associates. There’s been alot of drama during that time as well, but rather than go off into who did what who, or did whatever to the other, I’m going to focus on what must happen now. The players need to be insulated from board room politics, plain and simple. You can’t build big batting partnerships, or bowling units that hunt as a pack on the field, when there’s all manner of funny-funny characters spreading funny-funny stories in the camp. Help Collins Obuya and Robin Brown do their their job by giving them final authority on team matters. That way they can get on with bringing home the victories necessary to help you convince the big fish of this world that they are gaining something if they opt to pass through Nairobi on their next Africa tour. The women’s team, and the youth teams, generally need more players brought in and playing the game. Their success is the future of the game.
Finally there is the matter of money. This blogger reckons Cricket Kenya needs to broaden its sources of revenue. This business of putting every egg in the basket called ICC grants isn’t sustainable. Not because the money is small, but because the ICC’s just not structured to encourage its minnows to grow into anything more than a side show for the big players like England, India and Australia where it receives tv and marketing revenues in the billions of dollars. See the several attempts to change World cup qualifying and format because the wrong team got knocked out.
Anyway, my final word is best of luck with the task ahead of you and may you be the best manager that sports in Kenya has ever had.