#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.

East Africa Cricket Leagues Reborn

According to this report from Supersport cricket analyst, slash full time Liverpool FC fan Arjun Vidyarthi, The third editions of the East Africa Premier League and Cup are set to witness some far reaching changes intended to spice things up for the fledgling tournaments. This is a brief summary of the changes that look to have been confirmed.

For the t20 East Africa Premier League, the whole thing will be compressed from the old 8? week 2 leg format to fit into 4 days of cricket action. There will be two new franchises (One from Tanzania, one from Rwanda) joining the already existing 6 from Kenya and Uganda. The games will all be played at the Simba Union, and Nairobi Club grounds, whereas before they were home and away games for all the franchises before the semis and finals which were all at the Nairobi Gymkhana. It will also not run at the same time as the East Africa Cup.

As for the 50 over East Africa Cup, the tournament will still have 6 franchises, this time split into 2 groups, and the tournament, but the action will be compressed into 1 month. The semis and final venue will now be the Simba Union. On a general level there is also talk of pros from Pakistan being drafted in, one per franchise to bring in some quality and name recognition to the games. I’m going to wait till the actual identities this cricketers is to pass judgement on that. However, if it is something along the lines of the veteran nationals Zimbabwe coaxed to play its own Premier League (Jason Gillespie, Andre Nel types) then I’m all for it.

If the inline link in the article above didn’t work here is the raw url http://mobi.supersport.com/cricket/blogs/arjun-vidyarthi/EACC_almost_upon_us

#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.

East Africa #Cricket Leagues: Week 3 Review

This round of the East Africa Premier League and Cup well and truly belonged to the bowlers. Across the 6 matches, played on Saturday and Sunday, there was just the two 50 plus pampe and batting partnerships were a premium wherever teams could get them going not to mention at least 5 bowlers managed 5 wickets or more. The two aforementioned half centuries came from Coast Pekee’s 64 run win over the Rwenzori Warriors. Morris Ouma (62) and Irfan Karim (83) anchored their team to 206/9. This proved far too much for the Warriors in the face of Raj Savala’s 5 wickets for 11 runs. This game result being revenge for the Premier League result the day before. Then, having joined the franchise as a batting coach, Steve Tikolo shone with the ball taking out 6 wickets for just 12 as Coast Pekee were all out for 89, eventually succumbing to a 12 run loss under the Duckworth-Lewis system. Up in Nakuru, scores were lower with the Kanbis Tigers making very hard work of chasing down Rift Valley Rhinos’ 71/9, scraping across the line with to win by just 2 wickets, in the Premier League. They made even heavier weather of their Cup game, this time needing all 11 of their batsmen to chase 154 in under 50 overs. However, even figures of 5 wickets for 26 runs from Kenya international, James Ngoche, could not stop the Tigers from completing another 2/2 weekend. This brings me to the absolute best bowling effort of the weekend. Ordinarily when your team has all of 50 overs to chase down 102 to win a game, victory is more a matter of when, rather than if. Certainly That’s what the Nile Knights thought. They hadn’t counted on Kongonis’ Elijah Otieno, not reading the script. He pretty much single handedly ran through the Knights lineup amassing 7 of the 10 wickets to fall for personal figures of 7/13 as Kongonis pulled out an amazing 35 runs win in trying circumstances. Next week Kongonis host Rwenzori Warriors, Rift Valley Rhinos welcome Nile Knights, and Coast Pekee visit the in form Tigers.