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?

 

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#EACC: final thoughts


 

The third edition of the East Africa Competitions came to a close on Sunday, with Ruwenzori Warriors, beating the Ugandan counterparts Nile Knights to win their first ever east Africa Cup. As I had posted earlier, the third edition of the East Africa Competition saw the tournament overhauled and a whole manner of new aspects and principles introduced into the way the competition is run. In brief there was: shifting of the franchise formation from the Provincial bodies to corporates, the compression of the EAPL to one weekend, the exclusion of venues outside of Nairobi from hosting matches in either the Premier League and Cup, and an attempt to expand the EAPL in particular to bring in Tanzania and Rwanda. On the whole, whilst I did nitpick at some of the changes above on the whole I do feel that in the off the field management, the EACCs are mostly headed in the right direction.

On the field, whist I cannot comment the way I would like to on the actual standard of the cricket, it is interesting to note, the extent to which the teams from the ‘weaker’ cricketing nation of Uganda performed so consistently well across the length of the tournament, against the 4 franchises from the ‘stronger’ nations of Kenya. They were both semi-finalists in both the competitions, while Ruwenzori went on to win the 50 overs a side Cup competitions. Although there are plenty of mitigating factors that could be used to explain this phenomenon, that in this edition, indeed over the life of the EACCs the Ugandan franchises have just plainly maintained a higher standard of performance than their Kenyan counterparts is something to be concerned about. By the way did I mention that the Ugandan Franchises are the oldest in the competition, and have remained virtually unchanged since the EACCs were launched in 2011?

As for the future of these tournament, if this year’s editions arte any indicator then I am looking forward to more innovation by Cricket Kenya. Perhaps the Rwandans and Tanzanians might actually show up. Perhaps corporates from places like Nakuru, Mombasa, Eldoret, even Kisumu might grab a franchise or two. Most importantly, we actually see the development of strong national teams in both Kenya and Uganda forged in the fires of the competitions.

#EACC: A Few Observations


For those of you not in the ‘cricket in Kenya loop,’ the third edition of the East Africa Competitions is well underway. Rising stars Chuis (who are they?) won EAPL III, and are among the four teams set to contest the East Africa Cup semi-finals this weekend. This blog is not a review of matches played so far, or a preview of the matches set to come. It is a number of observations about the EA competitions; particularly this year’s which I reckon are worth putting together in a post of their own.

New identities

The Kenyan franchises have had an identity make over. Last season’s Kongonis, Kanbis Tigers (who themselves had come in to replace the old Nairobi Buffaloes), Coast Pekee (my favourite franchise name ever) and Rift Valley Rhinos, were scrapped. They were replaced by Sameer Simba, Express Ndovu, I&M Nyati, and the new EAPL champions Rising Stars Chuis. From here this move looks like it came straight out of the Indian Premier League play book. This was largely brought about by the change in franchise incorporations that saw CK, apparently have corporates take over control of a franchise, and interestingly enough it meant that, Rift Valley and Coast lost their teams as for this edition all the teams were based in Nairobi. Was it because there wasn’t enough interest from companies based in these two regions to get a franchise Was it because they simply didn’t have enough muscle to grab a team in the bidding, or whatever system was used to give the teams out, or were they simply not asked? What does that say about cricket outside of Nairobi? The Ugandan teams o the other hand, continued to exist pretty much unchanged in virtually all aspects as they were right from the origins of this tournament. At the end of the day these teams have reportedly been the most consistently good through the competition so far.

Home is where the Heart action is

Unlike previous editions, where the teams were all over and everywhere playing one another in home and away games in Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, and Kampala, this year’s EACC saw all the action condensed to a grand total of 3 venues in Nairobi: The Nairobi Club, Simba Union and Nairobi Jafferies. This means the Uganda teams have to hang around in Nairobi, for the entire 6 week duration of the tournaments and whatever fan base they had built back home will either jack to trek all the way to the city in the Sun, or get access to Super Sport to see any action. It also means that up county folk like me, who might have been thinking about dashing down to Nakuru, from Nyahururu, or say Mombasa from Malindi, or any such locale to catch what would have been ‘the local team’ live in action will either have to dig a little deeper to go down to Nairobi, or forget about the whole thing. It’s a pity, but probably forced out of economic and time considerations. Oh well, the key thing is there seem to be real money from local corporates flowing into this venture which is a really positive sign, right?

Friends from afar

Bringing in stars from Pakistan to grace the EAPL, a stroke of genius on the part of whoever put it together and their employer ought to give them a big bonus. Kamran Akmal, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Sami, and Abdul Razzaq, participated in the tournament this year, made big impact, and hopefully it gets the other franchises to also go shopping for international talent to keep raising the standard of play. This will, if properly regulated go a long way in enhancing the EACC’s stated goals of giving local lads better seasoning before they go out to represent Kenya.

It’s broke, don’t fix it?

There is one thing I’m surprised hasn’t changed, or rather has not been addressed is the lack of a coherent ‘get the word out’ marketing on the part of Cricket Kenya. Sure they have yet another brand spanking new website, which so far is proving to their best managed so far, but aside from the occasional match reports its been fairly hard from anyone but the most hard core, will go to any length to get a fix, cricket addicts to find out match results, see scorecards and assess who is really standing out *cough*Irfan Karim*cough*. What we are getting, aside from the nominal reports in the papers, is pretty much not going to cut it to grow, not merely sustain, but really grow interest in cricket in Kenya as these competitions have the capacity to do. Is this still the official twitter handle? If you want scorecards or any such thing then that is another story. The Official Facebook page(s) I looked up this morning for both Cricket Kenya and the EACC competitions I can find haven’t been touched in months, most of the info being posted is from diehard fans such as myself, and Cricket Kenya is not making it easy to get this info to begin with. For me that kind of social media policy is like buying a fancy new suit, and then simply never changing out of it for any reason forever and ever amen!

All in all

Cricket Kenya has made some really bold changes to the EACC, and good on them for doing so, because they will really help build this competition and make it more durable than some of the other IPL copycat tournaments of late. I can appreciate that to make omelettes you have to break some eggs; my hope is that some of the stuff from the older editions of the EACC can be brought back in time. I really am interested in having an EAPL team at my door step to prevaricate about going to see.

Hongera Chuis! #EAPL III champions


This year’s East Africa Premier League was transformed into a 5 day extravaganza from the multi-week event of before. This came with a few ups and downs, that I hope I will get into later on. This post is about celebrating the fact that for the first time a Kenya has won the Premier League. On Sunday they defeated Ruwenzori Warriors by 9 wickets to end the Ugandan team’s 2 year stranglehold of the competition. They were led by national team, Collins Obuya who was named man of the tournament. There was also the sterling shows with the bat from former Pakistan international Kamran Akmal, who vindicated Cricket Kenya’s decision to bring in the big names, with a number of half centuries over the course of the tournament. I understand there were also some very critical contributions from a number of up and coming Kenyan youngsters, which I hope to get into later. As for now it is on to the East Africa Cup, where I am hoping to see more from the same Kenyan franchises.

#EACL: Kongonis youth faces Rwenzori’s guile


This is the preview of tomorrow’s East Africa Premier League final between Kenya Kongonis and Rwenzori. Kongonis come into the match in the exact same circumstances as last reason they dominated the group stages of both Premier League and Cup competitions only to lose both to Nile Knights and Kongonis respectively. Kongonis on the other hand, without some of ties key cup winning stars from last season, rode into the final on the strength of their youngsters and will once again be trusting this youth movement will give them the firepower to overcome their Ugandan opponents.

Momentum is everything in t20 cricket and in Alex Obanda, Kongonis have gotten it in spades. Over the course of the season he’s racked up an impressive 328 runs from 7 innings including an amazing 91 in the semifinals against Coast Pekee. He and Shem Ngoche (with a tournament strike rate of 176.9) have provided the bulk of Kongonis’ fire power with the bat. Both are products of the youth program that Kenya Kongonis have. Speaking of youth if there are any players that capture the spirit of Kongonis’ youth movement in this year’s East Africa Premier League it is the brothers Rudd (Henry and William). Their crucial interventions with bat and ball epitomizes the value of a strong youth program. William’s 56 in the playoffs and Henry’s 4/15 in the semifinals were a key part of Kongonis’ journey into the final and if they as well as one or two other components of the team show character in tomorrow’s final then, they should be able to overcome Rwenzori.

Whilst Kongonis have been running on the fountain of youth, the Rwenzori Warriors have leaned on experience for their success this season. Veterans Steve Tikolo, Roger Mukasa have been the backbone of the Warriors unbeaten run in the group stages (a run which saw them book a slot in the finals). They will be seeking revenge against Kongonis who beat them in last year’s Cup final. In this season’s group stage meeting, The Warriors were able to stave off Kongonis, who were led by a 52 from Alex Obanda and hang on for a 14 run win. They will likely need all the experience they have in the senior players to repeat the trick and end their run of lost finals tomorrow.

#EACL: East Africa Cricket Leagues Semifinals Review


This past weekend saw the semi finals of the East Africa Premier League and Cup competitions. In both matches, Kanbis were trying to turn their debut season (versus Kongonis and Rwenzori and the League and Cup respectively) into a finals appearance. In both bases it was the better batting side that carried the day and, unfortunately for Kanbis, they were not the better batting side in either game. For Kongonis, in the Premier League it was Alex Obanda who proved once again set a platform for his side as the barreled their way to a season’s record total of 203/3 of their alloted 20. His able partner at the crease was team captain Shem Obado Ngoche. Normally known for his slow left arm spin bowling, he came out and showed another side of his game smashing his 47 runs in a measly 16 balls. An innings the likes of Shahid Afridi, or Yuvraj Singh would have been proud of. Faced with such a daunting target thing were always going to be tough for Kanbis. They were duly put out of the game by a combination of Collins Obuya’s leg spin (3/29) and the medium pace of Henry Rudd (4/15 off is 4 overs). They Now face Rwenzori in the final next Saturday. In the cup it was the return of Steve Tikolo to his old stomping ground of the Nairobi Gymkhana that ultimately carried Rwenzori past Kanbis and into a final against Coast Pekee. Having grabbed 4 wickets with his off spin, he and Ugandan veteran Roger Mukasa (100 off 84 balls) batted Rwenzori to victory. Though in all honesty a brittle top order didn’t help the Kanbis cause either. Reduced to 105/6, Kanbis were staring into the abyss when, Ramesh Mepani, combined with Vinod Rabadia for a 103 run partnership, that eventually saw Kanbis wind up 248 all out. Steve Tikolo intervening with quick wickets at the death tin prevent the two Kanbis batsmen from doing further damage. Over the course of this Cup season, 248 would have been too much for most teams, the highest successful run chase of the competition so far being, Kanbis chasing down 205 in the playoffs. Rwenzori’s Mukasa and Tikolo were of a different mind though. Coming togethe with the score at 31/2 they blew away the Kanbis bowling attack and by the time Tikolo was dismissed for 62 off 67 balls the damage had been done and even a late flurry of wickets could not prevent the momentum that the two batsmen had built from carrying them over the line with 28 balls to spare.

#EACL East Africa Cricket League Playoff Reviews


As alluded to in last week’s review, this season’s East Africa Premier League and Cup’s format is a little bit more complicated than last year’s. Where in the inaugural edition, the team’s with the best records beque the group stages simply squared off in the final to determine the winner, and the teams 3rd and 4th played a 3rd place playoff. This season, the teams finishing first (Rwenzori and the Premier league, and Coast in the Cup) would go straight into the finals, where they would await the winner of a series of playoff matches. Because of this, Kanbis, who finished 2nd and 4th in the Premier League and Cup respectively, found themselves playing a double header against The Nile Knights, who themselves finished 5th and 3rd in the Premier League and cup competitions. Are we still confused? I’m not anymore, so your on your own. Anyway, humor aside, Kanbis Tigers were in the Premier League side of things, fighting Nile Knights for a semifinal slot v. the winner of Kongonis v. Coast Pekee. Carried by the aggression of Nahendra Patel (48) and some late hitting from Ramesh Mepani (28*) Kanbis’ 142/8 proved to be just enough to hold off the Knights, who ended up all out for 135. On the bowling front, Rakep Patel and Rajesh Bhudiya combined to take 6 wickets for just 40 runs proving to be the difference in a close fought game. Kanbis will now face Kenya Kongonis for the right to stop Rwenzori taking the Premier league trophy back to Uganda. Kongonis booked their place in the semifinal in a far more comprehensive fashion. Riding on the call of William Rudd’s 56, to 135/4, they were always on top of Coast’s vaunted batting attack. The Mombasa team hobbling to 89/8 in their 20 overs. On the Cup front, the Tigers v. Knights contest was an even closer affair than th Premier League game. Chasing 204, a target has actually proved beyond most teams in the cup this season, the Tigers scraped home just barely. Their last wicket partnership of Oluoch and Rabadia scoring 61 to earn a 1 wicket win. Thus proving true the wisdom of a certain ‘smarter than the average bear’ that, its not over till the last out. The reward for Kanbis’ heroics is a semifinal against Rwenzori Warriors, for the right to take on Coast Pekee in the final. Rwenzori’s superior league record stood them in good stead as weather prevented their playoff against Rift Valley Rhinos from taking off.