Monday, August 28, 2006

A Golden Opportunity

East African Cricket On The Rise
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Tanzania's resounding victory in the WCL Africa Div 2 (Associates) championship recently completed in Dar es Salaam means that both of the African representatives to the WCL World Div 3 (Associates) will be Kenya's neighbours. Uganda had already qualified through ICC ranking system when the divisions were first set up. To be played in Los Angeles early next year, the Div 3 tournament gives two teams the opportunity to progress to Division 2, from which the first to fourth teams go through to the 2011 World Cup Qualifier Tournament to be held in 2009.
In LA, Tanzania and Uganda will line up against:
Cayman Islands
Fiji
Hong Kong
Italy
Papua New Guinea
USA
A resurgent USA may feel themselves favourites for the tournament on home soil, but with the right preparation, there is no reason why the two East African teams could not finish first and second.
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This is where Kenya must step in. Aside from regional loyalty, it is in our interests to see our two immediate neighbours get stronger. Already Uganda are able to beat our A team and before long may be giving our national squad good competition as well. If Tanzania continue to improve, which considering most of their team are under 20, should happen, we could get to the stage where Kenya can play competetive matches against both our immediate neighbours. This will not only mean we can all prepare for major tournaments better and cheaper, but it should also mean that interest in the game will pick up locally. There is nothing like a local derby to get people interested in a game.
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Kenya needs to make the most of the opportunity provided by having two improving neighbours. We need to organise further events like the Atul Shah Tournament where our A team plays both Uganda and Tanzania. More importantly, we need to organise to play them at the longer form of the game as well. Regular matches between the three nations played over 4 days will ultimately not only significantly strengthen all the national sides, but should also start to build a strong fan base as the rivalries develop. Both are vital if sides from the region are each going to take the next step up from their respective positions.
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With the rise of Tanzanian and Ugandan cricket, Kenya has a golden opportunity to lead the region forward and strengthen ourselves as a result. This must not be allowed to go to waste. If handled correctly, there is no reason why the East African region cannot by 2009 have all 3 teams vying for a place in the 2011 World Cup. A note of warning however: Uganda and Tanzania have got where they are today by setting up impressive youth systems. If Kenya does not emulate or better these, then we will be looking at being overtaken. We must make the most of this opportunity to help take our neighbours forward, but need to ensure we also strive to improve ourselves to keep ahead of them.

1 comment:

Ram said...

Yes, the rise of Uganda and Tanzania means that Kenya and Namibia have to pitch in to be counted as Africa's developing nations in the eyes of the authorities...I guess a tournament involving SA A, Zim A, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Namibia is going to take place sometime this year (any idea about the schedule and venue?) and that should give a good idea of the quality of these teams....More importantly, this should be an annual event held in Uganda or Kenya or maybe even Tanzania (PROVIDED they've the necessary facilities) rather than SA or Zim to help draw in the crowds and thus corporate support..