Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cricket Set To Resume At The Coast

Kenya's Coast cricketers are due back in action this Sunday when the Mulji Devraj & Bros sponsored Twebty-20 tournament gets underway. While I am not entirely clear on the details of the pools, and the current standings (I suspect that some games may already have been played), it is great to see cricket being played again at the coast, and a sponsor getting on board. Mulji Devraj & Bros are a prominent building construction company in Mombasa, and all credit to them for supporting the cricket.
Three matches are scheduled for this weekend with the matches due to start at 2:00pm on Sunday:
Jaffery Sports Club host a Coast Development side.
Burhani Sports Club visit Mombasa Sports Club.
Coast Gymkhana take on a Coast Cricket Association Select team at home.
No being up to date on the current strengths of the sides, it is hard to make a prediction, but based on the traditional strengths of the sides, I would pick Jaffery and MSC to win their matches. No idea at all on the third one.
There are two more weekends of preliminary matches before the semi finals on Sunday April 9th, and then the finals on Saturday 22nd.
It is great to see cricket being played in all three major centres at the moment.
All we need now is for a National league to be put in place, for both the long and short versions of the game. With the long version of the game (3 or 4 days), I would like to see combined sides from each province make up a league similar to the Australian state system. On current strengths, I see Nairobi fielding four teams, Mombasa two, and Rift Valley/Nakuru one. These could be reassesed as other provinces grow in strength. My suggestion, going off the NPCA Main League final standings would be that Nairobi's teams be picked from the best players in each of 4 pools:
Pool 'A': Kanbis, Premier Club, Ruaraka, Parklands.
Pool 'B': Swamibapa, Kongonis, Nbi Institute, Nbi Nookers, Golden XI.
Pool 'C': Nbi Jaffery, Sir Ali, Ngara, Stray Lions, Krishna.
Pool 'D': Aga Khan, Nbi Gymkhana, SCLYL, Quitbis, Simba Union.
Coast teams, I would pool as follows:
Pool 'E': Msa Jaffery, Cst Development, Cst Gynkhana, Siri Guru Singh Sabha.
Pool 'F': Msa Sports Club, Burhani S.C, SCL, CCA Select.
With Rift Valley fielding their best side, this should lead to a fairly competetive tournament, and give the players more exposure to the longer form of the game.
Each squad should have 15 players, and matches would be played on a home and away basis. Cricket Kenya would however have to help Nakuru put in a turf wicket for them to host matches.
I think the National One Day League should remain club based on the whole, with several divisions operating on a promotion/relegation system. It would probably make sense for some teams to combine for strength. Assuming 8 teams to a league, I would split them up as follows:
Division 1:
Top 5 from Nairobi, Top 2 from Mombasa, Nakuru 'A' (combination team).
Div 2:
Next 5 Nbi, Next 2 Msa, Nakuru 'B', and so on.
The exact make up could be worked out more accurately, but it wouldn't take long before the leagues shook themselves out in terms of good teams rising to the top. I would have the bottom team from a division automatically relegated, and the top team of the next division automatically promoted, but the second botton team play off against the second placed team from the division below, with the winner joining/staying in the higher division.
If this is too expensive for the clubs to manage, then the alternative would be to use the same set up as the longer version, but with each pool putting forward two teams. Again, the league should be played on a home and away basis.
These are only my ideas - I'm sure the think tank at Cricket Kenya wil be able to come up with plenty of others, but the sooner a National competition can be set up, the sooner we will see players from different areas step up to strengthen the national team. At the moment, there may be several who are good enough, but because they are not playing against the other provinces regularly, they are not getting the chance to prove it. it is easy at the moment for example to dismiss the better players from the coast with the argument that the competition there is not as strong as Nairobi. If however the coast players are playing the Nairobi players frequently, and doing well, it will be much harder for them to be overlooked. Standards will also improve nationally as the best players get to play each other, especially in the 3 day or 4 day format. I look forward to the announcement by Cricket Kenya that a national competition has been arranged, a sponsor has been found for it, and it is all systems go.

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