Like lambs to the Slaughter? Cricket Kenya clears the Coaching decks


A silent purge has been been undertaken in Cricket Kenya as general manager, Josephat Muriithi starts to flex his muscles in the Corridors of power at Cricket Kenya.

First to be relieved were head coach of the men’s national team Steve Tikolo, and his deputy Martin Suji. then in the past few days it has been confirmed that Long time fitness coach and ladies team coach, David Asiji had been handed his p45.

Outgoing Men’s team coach Steve Tikolo (Source: The Star Newspaper)

In the case of Kenya legends  Tikolo and Suji, one could speculate that their departure is connected with the findings of the Rombo Committee, that was meant to get to the bottom of the players strike against these coaches in the lead up to Kenya’s WCL tour of Namibia in late 2015.

At the time , pretty much the entire senior men’s team refused to work with the two veterans of Kenya’s heroics from the 1990s and 2000s, and it seems that Cricket Kenya agrees with the players.

The dismissal of Asiji is a little more cloudy, what with his involvement in other aspects of national team coaching also being a factor.

With  Women’s World Cup qualifying, and World Cricket League matches against Papua New Guinea on the horizon for the women’s and men’s national team, it puts a biot of a squeeze on Cricket kenya to get new full time coaches in pace (if the process is not already underway).

Anyway, hopefully painful as it might be for some of people involved, this blogger hopes it is the beginning of a more active national management. Kenyan  Cricket needs it.

 

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Reflecting on Kenya and Pakistan’s recent Cricket games.


Over the past few weeks, Kenya and Pakistan engaged one another in a series of cricket matches. Kenya’s u19 boys’ team hosted their counterparts for a 5 match ODI series in Nairobi, whereas the men’s senior team traveled to Pakistan to play their ‘A’ team in a series. Both series resulted in hopelessly one sided white washes for the Pakistan teams

A poster for the Kenya v. Pakistan A matches (source:Todaynews pakistan)

On the side of the u19 games, the one sidedness of the results was to be expected, given the huge difference in class between the two countries’ youth development systems. For those not in the know, Pakistan’s u19 team’s world cup record reads as follows: World Champions twice (2004, 2006) losing finalists thrice (2014, 2010, 1988) and semifinalists twice (2008, 2000). They have NEVER missed a World Cup and their worst ever placing is 8th overall.

Kenya’s u19 team on the other hand have not qualified for the sport’s world cup since 2002, and their best placing was when a group with led by the young Collins Obuya, Morris Ouma and Kalpesh Patel managed to finish 5th in the plate competition in 2000.

Basically, the games were not likely to be close contests, and they were not. As the boys set out to break Kenya’s 12 year duck at World Cup Appearances my hope is that they looked what the Pakistani boys were doing right and borrowed some of their methods.

This blogger also hopes that the administrators also used the opportunity to pick the brains of the Pakistani management on how to build a world class cricket development system.

On the side of the senior mens’ team, the nature of the defeats was a lot more disappointing. Some numbers to put the scope of the performance in perspective. Kenya’s leading run scorer was Nelson Odhiambo, with a total of 84 runs across his 5 innings, not in one innings but for the whole tour. By the way he was also the team’s leading wicket taker with 5 wickets across the 5 games.

Kenya missed most of their top order batsmen (Rakep Patel, Irfan Karim, Collins Obuya, among others were not available). The only ‘seasoned’ batsmen who traveled were Alex Obanda, and Morris Ouma. Unfortunately neither was able to fire, and the other batsmen, on their first exposure to cricket at this level couldn’t pick up the slack.

The bowlers were significantly better at competing with the Pakistan ‘A’ team batting, but when push came to shove it just seemed that the hosts always had an extra gear, they could switch into and just take the game away from the Kenyans.

This blogger speculates that this difference is partly down to the competitive edge that the Pakistanis have developed in their players from the competitiveness of the cricket in Pakistan as a whole.

In the immediate future, Kenya might not have to play such difficult opposition in the upcoming World Cricket League matches, plus they will have a full complement of players.

However, Cricket Kenya must look at the results as a reminder that the game in Kenya just isn’t mobilizing the kind of player resource needed to take us back to the ‘glory days,’ of regular upsets, world cup qualifications.

Of Backs Mutually Scratched: Kenya v. Pakistan 2014


Tomorrow (Sunday the 7th of December) is the first of five matches between Kenya’s u19  cricket team, and their counterparts from the proud cricketing nation of Pakistan.

The Pakistan u19 team, are in Nairobi all of this week for a series of one day matches to help our boys find the level to break a 12 year duck, of qualifying for the u19 Cricket World Cup.

The publicity poster for the u19 matches (from Kenyacricket.com)

After that our own senior national team will jet out to Pakistan, to face Pakistan ‘A’ team, in a series of matches, ostensibly to help the Kenya men team prepare for the World Cricket league. The matches will be ‘45’ overs aside matches, but that’s not the crux of the issue.

That one of the leading nations in the sport, and home of some of the most gifted, exciting, even controversial players that the game of cricket has ever known, has suddenly felt sufficiently philanthropic enough to feel they have to schedule loads of fixtures against some down on their luck, drifting into obscurity associate country got me wondering. What’s the angle?

Tell us Madam Chair, How did you pull this off? (picture from The Standard)

Consider this, even during Kenya’s heyday in the early to mid 2000s, they only actually managed two invitations, to play against test nations not named either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.

Since 2007 they have only managed 2 matches (of any kind) against a major cricketing power (South Africa), outside of actual World Cup matches. Even then it was only after Cricket Kenya had to ‘cost-share’ the expenses with the hosts.

Since 2007, Kenya have only managed 2 T20 matches against Bangladesh, who up to that point were our most consistent rival on the field.

One thing that these two cricketing nations, Kenya and Pakistan, have in common is their games are suffering from the insecurity in their respective countries. This insecurity is as a direct result of the war on terror.

Just as Kenya shares a lengthy, hard to police border with Somalia, a nation rife with Islamic extremism, Pakistan has a very long border with Afghanistan,  across which dangerous extremists have operated. Both nations also have native populations of disaffected youths, ripe for radicalization into extremism. The consequence for both is noth get severely targeted by these extremist groups’ terror attacks.

Pakistan’s national team has not been able to play so much as a single game in front of their own fans, since an incident in 2009, where their visitors, Sri Lanka, were ambushed by armed gun men allied to extremist Islam.

Similarly, with the spike in terror attacks in Kenya (many claimed by Al Shabaab), our own national team has had to deal with the ICC shifting several key World Cup Qualifying, and Intercontinental Cup home matches to neutral venues, due to security concerns.

The need to  ease a few concerns with the ICC, over the safety of cricketers in the two countries, is clearly something which would be boosted by the two nations, actually successfully hosting a national team without any kind of incident. Perhaps it is this confluence of needs that made all this possible. Maybe I’m reading too much into a pair of simple routine tours, between to cricketing nations, like any other.

 

 

Jackie Returns and other stories


Having rushed to do a piece on the reports that Jackie Jan Mohammed was stepping down as chairperson of Cricket Kenya, I am now rushing to do a piece indicating that said resignation has been withdrawn. Strictly speaking, this is just a ‘rumour’ on social media as neither the mainstream press, not Cricket Kenya has published confirmation of the event on the public domain through any of their official channels.

Guess who’s back! (picture from: gulf news)

It seems that the board simple was not ready to move on without Mrs Mohammed and persuaded her to hand in in there for the time being. The decision is said to have been confirmed at a full board meeting in Mombasa a few days ago.

While all this was happening (or not happening) we are now into the month of September without any communication (even of the rumour variety) as to what the fate of the East Africa Premier League and Cup. Over the past few years, they have normally been held in the August-September period, following the conclusion of the provincial leagues.

It is through these competitions that the likes of Irfan Karim, and Lucas Oluoch really burst on to the limelight. Have they been postponed? Cancelled? Or are they being staged, as you read this, in secret at an undisclosed location? What is going on?

Anyway, be that as it may be, the ICC has finalised structure of the new World Cricket Leagues, through which Kenya will begin the path back to relevance on the world stage. The men’s team will play Namibia, Canada, the Netherlands, and two promoted teams from Division 3 in Namibia, in February next year.

The top two teams will be promoted to Division One, from whence the qualification for various World Cups will be contested, as well as becoming party of the newly restructured Intercontinental Cup, from whence they should get a shot at test cricket.

I’m not going to dwell so much on previewing this upcoming tournament, except to say that on recent head to head records against the opposition at this tournament, Kenya are not the favourites to come through.

Anyway, that is the latest in Cricket in Kenya, maybe some of the question raised will be answered, maybe they won’t. That’s life

Change Cometh, and Cricket Kenya must deal with it


Cricket Kenya has a new chairperson. This blogger understands that Jackie Jan Mohammed has very recently stepped down from the position of Chairperson of Cricket Kenya, citing personal reasons, and her deputy chairperson, one Mr. Anil Patel has taken over.

To the best of my knowledge she was the only woman to have ever headed a national sports body in Kenyan history, and will likely the only one who may have the privilege and responsibility to do so for the foreseeable future.

Jackie Janmohammed (Source: imgci.com)

It would not be fair to pass judgment on Jackie’s tenure at the head of Cricket Kenya without first coming to grips with the situation the organization was in leading up to her tenure. Her reign began as part of a settlement to put a stop to a bunch of litigation that had dragged the process of replacing Samir Inamdar, her predecessor, out for two years.

Her predecessor had himself been come to be in charge of Cricket Kenya at the tail end of even more litigation, through which the old Kenya Cricket Association was dissolved and replaced by Cricket Kenya.
In between there were, a whole bunch of other intrigues that saw Kenya’s senior players on strike on several occasions, the site for a proposed national academy repossessed and turned into part of a super highway, and pretty much all structure in the game slip away
In that context her time could therefore be seen as the facing the consequences for the past decade’s stagnation.

On the field Kenya’s men’s national team failed to qualify for the 50 over World Cup for the first time since 1992, were relegated out of Division 1 of the World Cricket League, and lost the One Day International Status, upon which a lot of the support that Cricket in Kenya was getting from the International Cricket Council was being channeled.

However, on the domestic, though she did preside over the settling in and expansion of The East Africa Premier League and Cup, to the extent that the T20 competition was even able to attract some serious international level talent in its most recent edition.

Both tournaments have been in a way ‘cursed’ by their own success, as the extra revenues generated seem to have just become another avenue for the same old back door power games, and intrigue rather than a vehicle for the overall growth of the game.

Her successor, Mr. Anil Patel, has a very full plate once he gets into the swing of things. The last time I checked, Cricket Kenya did not have a Chief Executive Officer, the East Africa Leagues season is around the corner, and the board is certainly looking at a cut in funding from the ICC, as well as a truncated schedule of fixtures (from the ICC’s programs for associates) to keep the national teams at all levels active.

So in the short term those will be the challenges.
The national team have February’s World Cricket league Division II to begin their rehabilitation, and earn the right to be in the next edition of the Intercontinental Cup.

The women’s and youth national teams do not even have the certainty of that, until the full implications of the cuts by the ICC to regional youth and women’s cricket become fully known, at least.
In the medium to long term there is continuing to build trust among the corporates and institutions that have invested in Kenyan cricket so far. There is the need to work out how to get additional resources from wherever and whomever they can get onto the band wagon of making Kenyan cricket grow.

And of course, the resident pachyderm in the building called Kenya’s tiny player base. I have called for this many time before and will call for it again. Cricket Kenya needs to get a formula to get cricket into public schools and institutions in a sustainable way. We are talking about getting a portion of the ~97% of school going children countrywide.

That is a story for another day.  For now, its to wish Mr Patel, and the remnant of the Cricket Kenya board installed in 2012, all the best as they steer the game forwards.

Money! Money! Money!


If we had a little money!So goes the popularly 1970s Swedish rock band ABBA. Something is going down at Cricket Kenya, and its connected to the way they handle their money.

The Story in question, which to tell you is simple a cut paste job of a Facebook post by a more connected cricket stakeholder, indicates that there are some serious rumblings over the revenue that Cricket Kenya is raking in thanks to the East Africa Premier League and Cup Competitions

Consider this. For a long time the official narrative for why the game of cricket is still well…a niche sport is the absence of resources to do a proper expansion of the game

IF WE HAD A LITTLE MONEY!

Well , if the rumblings of these stakeholders are to be believed, then Cricket Kenya, don’t have ‘a little money,’ they are bloody drowning in it!

So where is it all going? My best best is that most is swallowed up in salaries and Central contracts and so on, but is only a best guess based on the few tit bits that Cricket Kenya actually releases.

In that Vacuum the ‘stakeholders’ come out and make ruckus about their rights and so on and  ultimately the game is the big loser, as we Kenyans know what ‘Stakeholders’ are all about?

Anyway, there is an annual general meeting coming up where the usual tug of war between ‘stakeholders’ and board members will happen, and we will very likely end up where we started, despite there being plenty of voices calling for a more reasoned and practical approach.

I means seriously the East African Competitions, all sorts of ICC and corporate funds, are directed to the board to build a game of international repute and to date it hasn’t happened isn’t it time the bickering stopped and the growth began?

 

The Future is Now, whether Kenyan Cricket likes it or not


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.