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.

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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