The streak is over. Kenya’s longest streak of consecutive world cup appearances in any sport is over. In failing to secure passage to the 2015 Cricket World Cup, something we had started taking for granted, Kenyan cricket has lost a platform to really market the game on the global stage. Kenya has also fallen out of the privileged group of ICC Associates whose national team games were accorded ODI status. The boys fought to the bitter end, only losing their ODI status on the third to last delivery of the last over of the final game against Scotland.
What are the implications? In the immediate term, there are a whole bunch of grants that Cricket Kenya will no longer be entitled to on account of not being in the World Cup. The loss of ODI status means loss of access and profile for the games that Kenya does play which means those reluctant sponsors might just become even more reluctant to put their identity with Kenya’s national team. It also means that Irfan Karim, Duncan Allan, and Alex Obanda, co’s talents will remain Kenya’s little secret for the foreseeable future, thus it will be that much harder for them to land those pro contracts which make the time and opportunities they have sacrificed to be Kenya’s national cricket team worthwhile.
The only consolation is that by at least making it into the super 6 stage of the World Cup qualifiers, Kenya probably still has the Intercontinental Cup (or whatever the ICC’s ongoing overhaul will replace it with) to look forward to
Where does Kenya go from here? This blogger feels that at least at the admin end they should already know the answer. If they don’t perhaps they should borrow a leaf from one or two the teams <a cough>Papua New Guinea</a> for inspiration. Nepal is one of the teams that will be taking over the opportunity ODI status for the next four years that the likes of Kenya squandered. Start getting serious about making cricket national sport, build real partnerships with the neighbouring full members (akin to the arrangement that PNG had with Australia) and if I haven’t mentioned it before, get serious about taking the game out of the members clubs and into schools colleges and perhaps even the disciplined forces. I mean imagine how appropriate it would be for Kenya to give the world a team named Armed Forces Cricket Club?
I digress. The important thing is that for Kenya to come out of this low, the model of old must be tossed out, and a new one constructed in its place.