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.

Looking Back at Kenya’s Nightmare in Sharjah

At the end of the day I do not think Kenya could have asked for a more depressing tour results-wise than what just elapsed against Afghanistan. It is one thing that Kenya lost all but the final game to a resurgent Afghanistan side, but it’s quite another when none of the losses was even close. Even when facing essentially an under 25 team in the 4 day intercontinental Cup, Kenya got bowled out for scores of 162, and 140 respectively, to succumb to an 8 wicket loss with a full day and a half of play to spare.
The immediate outcome of losing those World Cup Qualifiers is that Kenya now have to go to New Zealand early next to fight for the last two World Cups slots, and probably the right to even hold One Day Internationals in future. It means Kenya continue to wallow at the bottom of the ODI and T20 world rankings, and the trophy drought in the Intercontinental Cup will continue for at least another two tears. Afghanistan’s (admittedly very good) fast bowlers badly exposed Kenya’s batsmen. Nobody in the Kenya team made it to 40 in all of the games played, and as a team, we were out for less than 100 in all limited overs innings batted. Considering that just before the 2011 World Cup, Kenya had played the same opponents and fared considerably better. (Kenya won the ODI series 2-1, and only some bad fielding in the Afghan 1st innings was the difference between the two teams in the Intercontinental Cup) the actual skill gap between the two teams cannot be that big. Therefore one cannot say Kenya could not have at least competed with their opponents. However the results were the results, and at the end of the day the Kenya national team just underwent one of its worst tours results wise that I can remember.
Kenya is not the first; neither will it be the last, cricket national team to suffer a nightmare tour of this nature. It happens to everybody eventually. What matters here is how the players, coaches and administrators react to such a tour. That is where the difference between the good teams, who pick themselves up, directly and honestly address the matters that need addressing and actually become stronger because of the lessons learned from that tour, and the weaker ones for whom such a tour only unleashes yet another round of debilitating blame games, finger pointing accusations and conspiracies.
The silver lining in all of this was Kenya capped two promising young players in Dhiren Ghondaria and 15yr old Gurdeep Singh. My hope is that they saw the level their opponents were at, not as a discouragement, but a challenge that they can rise up and meet wityh sufficient application and hard work.
On a final note this blogger wants to congratulate Afghanistan, and the Afghan Cricket Board on their team’s qualification for their first ever 50 over World Cup.

EDIT: Since the posting of this blog Kenya did win the fianl t20 match in Sharjah, Collins Obuya leading the boys to an encouraging 34 run win.

Winding Down, for now

For me the most important aspect of next week’s games for Kenya is the fact that (according to the ICC website ) all of the limited overs matches will day-night affairs which. A little extra exposure to floodlights which Kenya like most associates does not get very often. For our opponents on the other hand, World Cup Qualification and a place in the Intercontinental Cup final are still very much on the cards. Can Kenya act the spoiler?
Squad details have yet to be announced, hopefully that will be soon, but with very little riding in it for Kenya this post is about a few reflections on how this world cup qualifying campaign and Intercontinental cup has gone so far
Firstly, we are not out of world cup qualification; we just can’t make it through the current WCL championship. Ireland took the title and slot number one. The one match they have lost throughout the two year old league is to Kenya. Afghanistan needs to overtake the Netherlands to grab slot number two. There will be another qualifying tournament for the rest of the associates to squabble over the remaining two slots in the months to come, so all is not lost for Kenya on that front.
On the Intercontinental Cup Kenya, have still to win the competition. Our best ever showing remains the shock loss to Ireland in the inaugural edition, and this round will mark the 3rd? time in a row Kenya has not made the knock out stages. With one match remaining Kenya’s Rakep Patel’s 130 is the only century of so far whilst Hiren Varaiya’s 26 wickets are almost double the second highest wicket taker, in the Kenya team.
Oh well after this dead rubber, there will be the Twenty 20 World Cup qualifiers, so if nothing else this would be a good time to tune up for them.

The importance of being yourself: A review of #Kenya’s #cricket tour of U.A.E

Kenya’s national cricket team have been in The U.A.E for most of the last fortnight. They were there on the urgent business of breathing new like into their faltering World Cup Qualifying and Intercontinental Cup campaigns. The opponents on this tour would be Canada. A team with even dimmer hopes of success in these competitions than, Kenya, but one that Kenya has struggled to dispatch from time to time. As it was, Kenya swept the ODI World Cup Qualifiers and took a maximum 20 points in the 4 day Intercontinental Cup tie. The only blemish being sharing the largely inconsequential (in the sense that only pride was at stake) t20 series 1-1.

The ODI And intercontinental cup wins were built on the back of several individuals sticking to their strengths in spite of the fact that they ran counter to popular perception of the best way to in about being successful in the various forms of cricket. I’m going to highlight 3 in particular. Irfan Karim, Rakep Patel and Nehemiah Odhiambo.

I’ll start with Irfan. The first time this blogger heard about him was from the captain of my high school cricket team, who couldn’t stop raving about this kid he had seen in a rival school that had mastered all all the stuff that we were still coming to grips with in the school senior team. Since then he’s popped up from time to time on this blog as I’ve covered Kenya’s youth team. Together with Emmanuel Bundi and Lucas Oluoch, he represents the best of Cricket Kenya’s nascent youth development programme. From there, it was his break out season as the anchor of the championship winning Coast Pekee batting lineup and straight into the Kenya team against Ireland in September of last year. Throughout, his batting method has defied the popular trend of explosive, hyper aggressive ‘modern’ One Day openers. It has been more of a slow yet, certain accumulation of runs built on staying in and staying in and staying in. Yet it was that patience and composure that was so key in Kenya’s opening ODI win against Canada. A patient 65 anchored Kenya to a wicket victory 6 win. The 2nd match saw a more aggressive Karim, but more importantly it saw him rewarded with his maiden One Day Century, as Kenya overcame a helter skelter start from the Canadians to close out a second 6 wicket win.

The second player I’m looking at is rather different. A product of the Kanbis Cricket Club, Rakep Patel, has been in the national squad for several seasons, yet his obvious talent has yet to be harnessed as he has only really started to get a defined role within th team. Coming in on the back of several years of topping the NPCA runs charts, he has seen himself plugged into pretty much every gap in Kenya’s batting schemes without ever really settling to a set role. On this tour, he was batting in the middle order, and though in the one day games were a foregone conclusion by the time he came in to bat, his intervention in the 1st innings of the intercontinental cup was as game changing as any I’ve witnessed in a 2 innings game. Canada were on a high, having squeezed an extra 112 runs out of their last 3 wickets of their 1st innings, and the Kenyan innings was starting to wobble when he came out to bat at No. 5. Conventional wisdom says in that situation the smart thing to do is, consolidate, take it easy, get your eye in (says the cricket jargon for it) and so on. Rakep on the other hand, in partnership with Tanmay Mishra, attacked the Canadian bowling right from ball number one, and just like that Kenya’s score went from 91/3 to 201/3. The best part of the innings was it wasn’t just a quick 6 and out affair. Rakep kept going and going, crossing the magic 100 run mark in 103. When the Canadians finally it him out for 130, the momentum had totally shifted in Kenya’s favour, setting up the third player I’ll look at’s intervention as Kenya rode the psychological blow struck by that innings to victory.

The player in question is Nehemiah Odhiambo. Making his debut in the national team in the first days of the new Cricket Kenya administration, he has slowly evolved into the leader of Kenya’s pace bowling battery, inheriting the job from such legends as Thomas Odoyo and Peter Ongondo, during a difficult time resultswise for Kenya. Given the time that was remaining in the game, even in light of Rakep’s earlier intervention, the smart money was Canada to escape with a draw, and Kenya to rue another poor result. Not on Nemi’s watch though. Leading from the front, he skewered the Canadian batting to come away with a career best 5 wickets for 45 runs bowling performance. From there Kenya’s victory was assured and though a finals appearance in the Intercontinental Cup is still 2 wins and several doses of good luck away, with bowling like that Kenya should go into their final games against Afghanistan and Scotland with greater confidence.

Robin Brown takes interim head coach post #cricket #kenya

Former Zimbabwe international wicket keeper Robin Brown has been named as interim national team coach of the Kenya national cricket team. Brown, 61 years old, has been in Kenya for several months as Cricket Kenya’s head of cricket development. He comes from a generation of Zimbabwean cricketers that represented their country through that Nation’s first years after independence. His contemporaries include former ashes winning England coach Duncan Fletcher. In that time they did not lose so much as a single world cup qualifier, and famously, at the 1983 Cricket World Cup, defeated an India team that would go on to win the tournament. On the coaching side, Robin Brown served as Zimbabwe’s national coach (from 2007 to 2008) during a difficult time for the game of cricket there. In spite of the difficulties, he managed to inspire the team to shock victory over Australia at that year’s t20 world cup. It can also be argued that his spell in charge was the beginning of a revival of the Zimbabwe national team climaxing in it regaining its test status after 5yrs of self imposed exile. Its probably that reputation that got Cricket Kenya interested in his services to begin with. He takes over the national team at a time it is in need of new inspiration and focus. 6 points adrift of early World Cup qualification and facing Namibia, a team we were to sweeping aside with contempt, but have really struggled with over the past 2 years. Over the past 4 or 5 years, Kenya’s fans have also had to deal with the national team being bypassed by Ireland, The Netherlands, and Afghanistan, as the begu tier 2 cricketing nations. Robin’s mission however, is most likely to get the best out a talented, but underexposed group of players, and re-establish dominance over Namibia in October. Should he be able to do this, it will very likely put him in the driver’s seat to take the job full time and therefore have the kind of security of tenure needed to work a more long term solution to the national team’s woes.

Goodbye Tom, Mike. Who’s next?

Over the past week Cricket Kenya slipped into what I am going to call a leadership crisis. Or rather issues that have being bubbling under the surface came to the surface. Its chief executive got poached by Connacht Rugby Union, the men’s national team coach resigned, citing the security of his family, and Cricket Kenya’s electing of a new board is still to happen as the circus surrounding Nairobi’s delegates (and candidate for the seat) continues to roll. In between all that there was a little bit of good news as Zimbabwean Robin Brown, under who’s charge Zimbabwe shocked Australia in a t20 world cup in 2007, joined Kenya’s coaching staff with a mandate to lead the head hunting of new talent. Back to the matter at hand. Cricket Kenya was born in 2005 out of a need to end the chaos and misdirection that had engulfed Cricket in Kenya. The organisation now finds itself sliding into the kind of vacuum of leadership, that its founders no doubt used to rail against in its early days. Lets look at the two resignations as a template to what might be going on at the top and its implications to Cricket Kenya’s bigger project for cricket in Kenya. The chief executive, Tom Sears, came in on the back of a lengthly, head hunting process, and with a CV that stank to high heaven on transformative leadership ability. Indeed even as he leaves to cooler climes in June, his new employers are gaga over the kind of ability they are paying for in him. At the time, it made sense (at least to me) that an organisation like cricket Kenya, with its archaic club cricket system, lack of penetration, visibility and in general systems to churn out the quality of player Kenya needs to match the expectations of its fans, that transformative leadership what was needed. I feel that is the most important criteria for whoever takes over from him, wherever he or she is from. In his tenure, he has seen the establishment (or re-establishment) of a national cricket league in the form of the East Africa Cup and Premier League. On his watch women’s cricket got its own league and, if the Cricket Kenya official website is to be believed, he has overseen an ever growing pool of coaches upon which Kenya’s cricketing future could look to build a brighter future. Yet, even in the face of all this, the marquee national mens team’s downward spiral continued unabated. Humbled in all games at the 2011 World Cup matches, continually outshone by associate peers (Ireland, Netherlands, Afghanistan et al) and unable to squeeze so much as a warm up game from any full member of the ICC, and still yet to come to grips with t20 cricket. Our national team is in dire straits. That’s the on field problems, off the wicket there continues to be a cloud of mistrust and intrigue hanging over the th relationship between the national team’s players and the board. There were rumours of unrest during the 2011, world cup and the row that broke out in the fall out of their performance led to the retirement of several senior players and the unavailability of several others for several months. There were hints that players were being used as pawns by ‘unnamed outsiders’ at the height of the unrest to further their own agendas. My interactions on and offline with stakeholders on these issues paint a picture of a Chief Executive that had either been sidelined altogether or co-opted by one of the warring factions, where his potential as a neural arbiter was most wanted. As he leaves, these problems continue and will continue to be an elephant in the room for whoever takes over from him. They will crowd out bigger more long term priorities and their by products will create a stench that will affect everyone connected to the game of cricket in Kenya. As for Mike Hesson, the resigning men’s national team coach, the official reasons for his departure are stated to be the lack of security for his family in Nairobi. Whether this is from Al Shabaab, or not was not clarified in the press release. Either way, it would be irresponsible to endanger one’s own flesh and blood over cricket job, no matter how big it is. Nonetheless, it would also be stupid to assume that the above mentioned issues around the national team did not affect his final decision to quit. Indeed he showed up for work smack dab in the middle of contractual row that robbed Kenya of its best Fast bowlers and several gifted batsmen. It was several months before he had access to all of Kenya’s best talent. While in charge Kenya scored mixed results in World Cup qualifiers against Netherlands, Scotland and Ireland, failed to win a single Intercontinental Cup match, and missed out on the t20 world cup again. Mixed in was an encouraging tour of Andhra State in India, and a more humbling t20 visit to Namibia and Zimbabwe. All in all this blogger reckons that while some individual members of the national team have grown in stature under his watch, his work was not made easier by the people he was working for and it showed in th team’s results. All in all however much these two are likely to be made scapegoats for all the problems in their respective tenures it should not be lost on observers, fans, and stakeholders that whatever’s wrong with cricket in Kenya was not born when either showed up and just because they’ve left doesn’t mean they will end.

Crucial Update post

Given the events that have occured in the last week leading up to the whole tour I figured I would run this quick one to summarise necessary changes and news realting to THIS BLOG,

1. There is now a Third One Day International scheduled most probably for Stormont, (same venue as the other two. Further details can be found on the facebook event here.
Entry is free

2. The venue for Kenya’s Interecontinental Cup match has been confirmed. The game will take place in Eglington. (its on the Northwest coast of Northern Ireland. Look for The Woodvale Road club)

3. Tickets as pointed earlier for all games will be available at the gates, for all these games.

Ticket prices as according to Cricket Ireland’s official website

For the intercontinental cup match (3rd-6th July in Eglington)

Entry is free

For the ODI series (9th, 11th and 12th July at

Clontarf Cricket Club Ground)

  • Ticket Prices: Adult €10 OAP € 5 Child € 3 (free if accompanied by an adult)
  • Family Day Ticket – Family 1 €10 (1 adult and 2 kids)
  • Family 2 €20 (2 adults and 2 kids)
  • Tournament Ticket: Adult €20 OAP €10 Child € 6

Tickets available in advance from ticketmaster Ireland and at the gate

Kenya tour to Ireland (July 3rd-July 10th)

Following a less than convincing qualification campaign for the 2011 World Cup, Kenya’s attentions now switch to the longer format of the game where they open their efforts to capture (for the first time) the Intercontinental cup from Ireland (the current 3 time defending champions) , by facing them on their own on the 3rd of July. The tour which will also involve two One day Internationals is likely to a baptism of fire for a new coaching set up with word in the press and certain blogs that an ad had been placed for a new head coach and that the shortlist is now down to two candidates. That and the small matter of selecting a new captain following steve Tikolo’s decision to step down in April of this year.

This season’s tournament see’s one major change with Zimbabwe fielding an ‘A’ team as part of their efforts to rehabilitate and get back to playing test cricket. Aside from that there is the creation of a second division Intercontinental shield. Other changes see Bermuda and Namibia bizzarrely relegated on the back of their poor World Cup Qualifiers, to be replaced by Afghanistan and the A team from Zimbabwe. So far the ICC has only released a handful of matches (amounting to about 1 round) with no indication as when the rest of the schedule (if it exists at all) will be made known to the participants.

Back to the Kenya situation. If the coaching vacancy is were being filled tomorrow, it would leave the new guy some three weeks to gel with the squad and prepare them for what would surely be the most difficult assignment that could reasonably come out of the hat (aside from probably a likely fixture away against Zimbabwe A). However it is likely that the job will stay with Andy Kirsten till just after the Ireland assignment

Last season’s meeting between the two sides saw a resurgent, full strength, Ireland thrash Kenya by an innings on a Gymkhana wicket that saw Kenya’s bowlers only manage 4 wickets in 160 overs, enabling the Irish to overhaul Kenya in the points table and get back into the final they eventually won against Namibia.

This year it is likely that as many as 6 of the Irish team will be unavailable for at least the Intercontinental cup due to County cricket commitments. However, the Irish are likely to be on a high after once again upsetting the apple cart by making the latter stages of the ongoing World T20 World Cup in England and and will be full of cricket when their opponents arrive in Dublin to face them, having not played a single international match since April.

Full tour fixtures (with facebook event links)

July 3rd-6th
Intercontinental Cup (4 day game)
Ireland vs Kenya

July 8th*
One Day International
Ireland v Kenya
Clontarf Cricket Club Ground, Dublin

July 10th*
One day international
Ireland v Kenya
Clontarf Cricket Club Ground, Dublin

Tickets and booking information is likely to be made available here, or here*

EDIT: After pestering several sources for infor this blog can now confirm that tickets will certainly be available only at the gate for at least the two ODIs, and possibly the intercontinental Cup match.

Otieno, Aga back in Kenya squad

Kennedy Otieno and Ragheb Aga were the the only two changes to the Kenya squad that will beging their season definiing tour of Europe. The 16 man squad will spend two weeks in the Sothe of England playing a series of warm up matches against various cluba and minor counties before they head off to Ireland to play in the qualifying tournament for the ICC T20 World cup in England in 2009. This will be followed by Intercontinental Cup matches against Scotland and the Netherlands as well as several one day internationals.

The return of Ragheb Aga despite his not playing in Cricket Kenya’s Sahara Elite League maks a fairly successful year for the young paceman who landed a one year conract with English County side Sussex, for whom he has taken 7 wickets at 23.14 apiece from 5 innings in the County Championship. His familiarity with local conditions will be important to the success of the tour. Kennedy Obuya on the other hand has been the leading runscorer in the Sahara Elite league scoring two centuries in leading the Southern Stars to the 2 day league title.

Full Squad.

Worrying signs…

Having won one match and lost one match Kenya return from Sharjah back at the top of the Intercontinental Cup log and unless some wheeling and dealing from Cricket Kenya does otherwise will not be playing any International level matches until they set of to Europe and the UK where they will face their biggest rivals for the tag ‘best cricketing nation without test status’ on their turf i.e. The Netherlands and Scotland. As the individual match reviews for the Namibia game are available here, and for the UAE game here, this entry will be more or less a look at the overall tour than any one match in particular.

Gerry Snyman’s innings may have been a once in a lifetime miracle that invariably cannot be discounted however one looks at the match, that Kenya got shot out for 135 having had a whole day and half to negotiate a 237 run chase on an increasingly bowler friendly pitch and that in both matches there was only 100+ partnership, (the sixth wicket stand between James Kamande and Thomas Odoyo in the first innings against UAE) will leave more some worried about the bruttleness of Kenya’s batting order. That sid thee were some marvelous individual performances with Hiren Varaiya claiming his 50th first Class wicket in only his 12th match against Namibia and then going on to claim his fourth 5 wicket haul against the UAE. Peter Ongondo also had a strong showing with the ball claiming a total of 9 wickets in both matches while Thomas Odoyo’s century and James Kamande’s Half century gainst UAE were the biggest highlights with the bat.

Though it was unfortunate that the Namibia game that was originally set for Nairobi was moved to Sharjah for security reasons one would have still have thought Kenya would have too much firepower for Namibia, and that their win over UAE who despite their previous World cup experience should not have really have come with so much of a struggle will give their more illustrious opponents the Netherlands and former tournament winners Scotland hope when they host Kenya later on in the year as it has to be noted that when Ireland, did last play UAE in the Intercontinental Cup, soon after their disappointing World Cricket League, it was all one way traffic.
On the other hand Ireland, the current defending champions have to travel to Namibia (whose extra first class experience could well get them another upset win) though and in all
likelihood the UAE will not fold so meekly this time when the two teams meet again in March.
Nonetheless it will be crucial in the months leading up to these crucial potentially tournament defining matches that Kenya do something about strengthening the resolve of the top order so they do not find themselves 5 or six wickets down with barely anything on the scorecard and fighting to stay in the match against Scotland or the Netherlands come their matches in August this year.