A Preview of Kenya’s Cricketing Summer tour of UK & Ireland


Kenya’s mens national team is in the UK to play the UAE, in the first leg of the World Cricket League, and then the qualifiers for the preliminary leg of the T20 World Cup, being co-hosted by Ireland and Scotland.

First the World Cricket League. Because of the funky world of International Cricket Council management and its arbitrary decision making, Kenya are back in Division 1 of the World Cricket League, not on merit, but as a side effect of a gerrymandering of the ODI world rankings to include Ireland and Afghanistan.

This was done to soothe the pain of their sevision to cut 4 teams from the next edition of the ODI world cup.

Kenya open with 2 games against UAE, an opponent they drew with 1-1, the last time they met.

The T20 world cup qualifiers on the other hand represent the final hurdle for associates from all over the globe to get on the high table of this fotmat of the game. There will be 6 slots, which will be earned through an excessively contrived series of playoffs I will not dwell on here.

Anyway, having safely dispatched Uganda in a warm up series, Kenya will hope the momentum gathered will help them get past opponents, who have proven a tough nut to crack in recent times.

During the regional T20 qualifiers,and division 2 of the WCL,when facing higher opponents particularly of the calibre, of the Netherland, or Namibia, Kenya struggled to impose their will on proceedings, as they did against the likes of Uganda.

The WC, and T20 matches represent another step up in quality. Thus the ability of Kenya to grind out results against teams, that are significantly more seasoned, will be tested severally.

Kenya have added a little youth, to a largely unchanged squad from the ICC sssignments earlier in the year. 

The bedrock of the batting will likely be Collins Obuya, Rakep Patel, Morris Ouma and Irfan Karim, with Narendra Patel, and the young guns Karan Kaul, and Gurdeep Singh looking to deliver break out performances, wherever they get the chance.

On the bowling front, This blogger expects Elijah Otieno and the Ngoche brothers: Nehemiah, Shem, and James, should carry the bulk of the workload, with Bundi, and Ndandason, providing variety with their different styles of seam bowling.

In addition to that, both Patels can chip in with the occasional spell of finger spin, while Nelson Odhiambo has shown some glimpses of making the kind of all round contributions that made Thomas Odoyo (his uncle) and Maurice Odumbe household names in their pomp.

Anyway, having drifted downwards over the past few years, this tour represents an opportunity to set the rehabilitation of the cricket team into a higher gear. Surely grabbing any one of the 6 slots in the t20 preliminary round, and perhaps winning the one or both games against UAE is not too much to ask?

KENYA squad for T20 qualifiers: Rakep Patel (captain), Emmanuel Bundi (Ringeera),  Narendra Kalyan (Patel), Irfan Karim (wk), Karan Kaul, Lucas Ndandason (Oluoch), James Ngoche, Shem Ngoche, Collins Obuya, Eugene Ochieng, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Nelson Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Morris Ouma (wk), Gurdeep Singh

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.

More ICC (The cricket One) Shenanigans


It has been a while since International Cricket Council set about overhauling its global structure to better place it (at least according to the people running the changes) to tackle the challenges of keeping the sport of cricket viable, and relevant in the 21st century.

The initial ideas were based around the Woolfe report, which recommended much moreinclusivity, openness and support for the developing teams within the cricketing universe. What actually happened was the document was tossed out and the decision makers decided to head in the opposite direction.

Most of the widely debated changes touched upon the inner circle of full members (voting rights, revenue sharing, obligations to play one another and everybody else). Countries like Kenya, which is an associate member, were largely left in limbo: Waiting for clarification and structure to vague hints at promises that may or may not materialize from the ‘charity’ of the big boys.

The final version of the overhaul was agreed upon earlier last month. It generally is the tightening of overall control and moneysof the ICC to a cabal of 3 nations (India, England and Australia) and will see the ICC is presided over (initially) by a man who was barred from running his nation’s own cricket board by its supreme court.

On a how this is all relevant to Cricket in Kenya level, what it means is that rather than being accorded more support (in keeping with the idea that they might be developed into future powerhouses of the game), associates like Kenya will find it harder than before to become part of the cricket mainstream, and a lot easier to slip into oblivion if they do not work extra hard to keep the little access they do have.

A Summary of the changes that will affect Kenya, from avid cricket writer Andrew Nixon

 

No longer is a place at the showpiece 50 Over World Cup a guarantee (the one Kenya made the semi-finals of in 2003).Making it to the t20 version of the World Cup proper has had an additional level of qualifiers tossed in. The World Cricket Leagues and Intercontinental Cup (through which Kenya’s national teams kept busy) have been trimmed down, as well as the youth and developmental tournaments that used to support spreading the game.

It is true there has been an actual offer to provide a pathway to qualifying for test status, but it remains an unsubstantiated promise with no guarantee (at least from the way the ICC has backtracked on other things) of ever becoming reality.
Anyway, I have blown a fuse previously on the absurdity of the so called reforms with regards to how they hurt rather than help the game in countries like Kenya.

Lots of other bloggers have done the same, but for now it seem that even if the local administrators were to get their house in order and get the game in Kenya growing again, it may be for nought.

In short, If cricket stakeholders in Kenya didn’t know this befor they should now understand that ther is simply no future to being a small fish within the International Cricket Council.

Africa T20 Qualifiers


 Even as I write this the International Cricket Council has screwed its associate members AGAIN!  Apparently in exchange for not being chucked out of the 2015 50 over World Cup (we only get chucked out in 2019), the ICC has decided that they are going to take back 4 of the 6 slots they had previously allocated to associates in the T20 World Cup. Never mind the qualifiers have already started. It’s like CAF deciding today to slash the number of participants at the Cup of nations to 8 [/rant]
 Back to the matter at hand, In all honesty, from the fixture list if Kenya doesn’t mercilessly thrash all and sundry (maybe with the exception of our stubborn neighbours Uganda) then we can conclude that Cricket in Kenya is dead and move on to baseball and hockey. Then again with almost the entire ‘golden generation’ of Kenyan cricketers now passed out of circulation (some of whom were kicking and screaming on the way out) maybe this blogger ought not to take it for granted that the current crop will sweep past the likes of Ghana and Nigeria.
Either way as a matter of the standards that we  expect of ourselves and the rest of the cricketing world has come to expect from Kenya we really should win this tournaments and then move on to the global qualifier where the real business of determining who gets the six oops I mean two spaces on the  high table for associates and affiliates.