Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kennedy's Ommission: Time To Tow The Line

With the exclusion of opening batsman, Kennedy Obuya, from the training squad for the Canadian Tour and Bangladesh series, there has been much uncertainty as to why he was left out. This is a sensitive issue and as it is still ongoing, there are some aspects of the case that cannot be disclosed. Rumour is however unhealthy and the truth needs to be told, if only to prevent sensationalist speculation. While Obuya's omission from this squad is the situation in hand, the saga stems back to the Bangladesh tour, and the Intercontinental Cup match against The Netherlands. Apparently, Obuya was dropped from the squad to face Holland due to breaches of discipline during the Bangladesh tour. Required to make a written apology, Obuya allegedly failed to address the points needed and so was left out of the current squad. A second letter is currently under review by the Technical Committee, so hopefully the issue will be resolved soon. It is neither in Obuya's interests nor Kenya's for this to continue, and hopefully sanity will prevail on all sides.
Maurice Ouma has also fallen foul of the committee in recent times when he failed to show up for Kenya 'A' team practices and Mombasa games in the Atul Shah Memorial. He was consequently dropped from the Denmark tour. Ouma has since given the committee satisfactory assurances that this attitude has changed, and is now back in training again. This shows that the committee can and does work, so that in it itself is a positive sign. Why Ouma, a player who was struggling for form in the first place, saw fit to act as he did only he knows. Cricket Kenya and Roger Harper are trying very hard to usher in a new professional approach, and it may have needed something like this to sink in. Bottom line is that Ouma is back with the squad and training, so it is time to move on and concentrate on earning selection for the games ahead.
Cricket Kenya have taken significant steps to improve the quality of their management service, and the setting up of the Technical Committee is part of this. Chaired by Cricket Kenya Vice Chairman, Shamji Patel, the Committee includes: Nasoor Verjee (CK Treasurer), Tom Tikolo (CK CEO), David Waters, Tariq Iqbal and Daniel MacDonald (Selectors), Roger Harper (Coach) and Davinder Bharij (Team Manager). Former Kenyan international, Bernard Owino, represents the players and is invited to attend meetings to discuss decisions made by the committee. Cricket Kenya has plans to include a Player Representative as a permanent member of the board once the Player Association is formalised and, in line with other countries, will provide an annual grant to assist their organisation. This will no doubt be dependent on the size of the Cricket Kenya coffers, but is a definite step in the right direction. It is now up to the players to get their Association organised, so that they can have an official voice in the decision making.
Other than discipline, the Technical Committee's aim is to look at the National Team's needs, failings, remuneration and futures. This is a far cry from the way the KCA used to run matters, and the players should recognise and appreciate the effort that is being made to improve their lot. In the professional era, team discipline is of paramount importance and players must also learn to respect this. There are enough representatives on the committee that issues can and should be resolved in a mature and sensible manner. Gone are the days where players needed to take the law into their own hands, nor will Cricket Kenya be able to act without feedback from all affected parties. Cricket Kenya hope that by keeping a firm hand on player discipline, they "will be able to foster a better relationship between players, team officials and administrators". Long may this continue.

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