Saturday, February 18, 2006

Coast Twenty-20 Tournament Delayed

According to the Standard Newspaper, The start of the Coast Cricket Association 20-20 cricket, second leg, has been delayed due unresolved cases of indiscipline. Papu Singh, the Associations fixtures secretary, yesterday said there were cases of indiscipline that needed to be addressed before the league could start.
Mombasa Cricket Club allegedly walked out half way through a match citing biased umpiring, and CCA say that the issue of umpires need to be addressed before the league could get under way. Singh said that part of the problem was there were not enough umpires, and urged the umpiring association to look for ways to train more officials. He also reassured teams that the second leg would get under way at the end of February.
Hopefully this situation will be sorted out soon, as it is important for Kenyan cricket that the game outside of Nairobi improves in terms of competitiveness. Mombasa is the second cricketing hub, and has the potential to produce some quality players for the national team. It is just as much up to the CCA to improve the situation for umpires as it is for the umpires association to train more officials. Conditions for umpires need to be good enough to encourage more people to learn the craft, and they need to be protected to make sure that the better ones remain. On the other side of the coin, biased umpiring is unacceptable, and should be dealt with severely. It will do the game a lot of damage if it is allowed to go on, and this is a time when Kenyan cricket, does not need things holding it back. Lets hope a solution can be found quickly, so that the players can get back into the middle, and get on with playing cricket.

In a separate report, the Standard put the value of the just concluded sponsorship deal between Cricket Kenya and IHSAN Sports at US $45 000, the equivalent to 3.2 million Kenya Shillings. That will certainly help in terms of supplying equipment to the development program, but there is still a need for more sponsors to get on board.

Obuya Eyes Return to Australia

Kennedy Otieno Obuya has stated that he will be returning to Frankstone Cricket Club in Melbourne next September. Obuya returned recently from a three-month stint with the club facilitated by Richard Done, the ICC high performance manager. Kennedy performed well with the bat hitting three fifties, and had the opportunity to work with wicket keeping guru Rod Marsh.
Impressed with the facilities, coaching, and different level of cricket, he says
"Australia has changed my game totally in all aspects."

We look forward to seeing the effects of his improved technique in Zimbabwe. Obuya is of the opinion that Kenya's young talent would benefit greatly if they were sent on similar trips for expert training. With the depth of cricket in Australia, and the facilities available to players, he has a good point. For example Frankstone, a District Club, has 6 grades in action every weekend:

" We played 100 overs matches on Saturdays, 50 overs on Sundays and Twenty-20s on Tuesdays"

Kenya has a long way to go before we see a similar amount of cricket being played in our domestic leagues, and our facilities will realistically probably never get near Australia's. Maybe Cricket Kenya should look into sponsorship deals to take the most promising players to Australia, or even England or South Africa for short stints. The experience gained from such trips would be invaluable in improving the standard of cricket in Kenya, as these players would be able to pass on what they learnt to others on their return. There are already a number of Kenyans in Australia, and plenty of companies do business in both countries, so sponsorship should not necessarily be too hard to come by.

Crunch Time For Selection

Cricket Kenya's selection sub-committee meets today to decide the final squad to tour Zimbabwe. It will be very interesting to see whom the selectors decide to take. According to reports in the Nation, some of the short-listed players from overseas have only just turned up for training, and there are a couple who have not been heard from, or who are injured. Two of the most notable absentees are Ravindu Shah, still suffering from his injury, and Hitesh Modi who is thought to be in England and has not been heard from. Mohammed Sheikh has also declared himself unavailable. With Ravindu out, the most likely opening partner to Kennedy Otieno Obuya is Maurice Ouma who, in Shah's absence over the last year, has shown he can handle the position, though he does need to convert his starts to big scores. Ouma has however only recently joined the squad from his club in South Africa, and recent form in the NPCA limited overs competition would give strong backing to 19 year old Tanmay Mishra as an alternative should the selectors decide Ouma is better suited down the order. Other batsmen who will probably get the nod are Steve Tikolo, Kenya's captain and lynchpin, and Charles Obuya who has shown his talent on the domestic scene over the last year. It is hard to see Martin Suji or Thomas Odoyo being left out of Kenya's bowling attack, but the rest of the bowlers are difficult to pick. Has Collins Obuya regained his form? If so, the experience he gained under Terry Jenner could give Kenya a very useful spin option to complement Tikolo, plus he has some experience. Alfred Luseno is a likely choice due to his speed. Andy Moles, who coached him at the training camp in South Africa, is of the opinion that he has the pace to regularly dismiss batsmen from Test nations. Kenya will need him to do this if we are to be competitive. That is about as far as I can predict with the little I know about the rest, and how they have fared so far in training. There should be around fifteen spots up for grabs, so there are plenty of places still unaccounted for. Looking at the make up of the provisional squad, I would not be surprised to see a few unfamiliar faces being given the chance to make their mark. If I had to choose the team myself, it would comprise:
Steve Tikolo (c), Kennedy Obuya (wk), Maurice Ouma, Tanmay Mishra, Charles Obuya, Thomas Odoyo, Collins Obuya, Alfred Luseno, Martin Suji, Rajesh Bhudia, Ragab Aga, Malher Patel, Josephat Ababu, Ashish Karia, Amit Bhudia.

Friday, February 17, 2006

High Time ICC dealt with Zimbabwe

Zimabwe cricket continue to mess people around. Not only have they chopped short the Kenya visit, but are also giving the Bangladesh Cricket Board a headache in trying to organise the tri-series event bewteen the three countries.
While I appreciate the ICC stance of not interfering with internal affairs of members (I'm not saying I agree mind you), when actions impact on other countries, one would have thought the governing body could do more to prevent one country inflicting chaos on at least two others. It is about time the ICC stepped in and sorted this mess out. Someone has to.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

IHSAN Sports To Sponsor Kenyan Cricket

Cricket Kenya today announced a clothing and equipment sponsorship deal with IHSAN Sports of Pakistan that will take them through until the World Cup 2007 in the West Indies. The contract is signed, and will cover the following teams:

1. Kenya National Cricket Team.

2. Kenya 'A' National Cricket Team.

3. Kenya U19 National Cricket Team.

4. Kenya U17 National Cricket Team.

5. Kenya U15 National Cricket Team.

IHSAN will provide a full kit for the teams including training gear, protective equipment, playing clothes for both forms of the game, as well as things such as bags and caps. In return, they will be the exclusive suppliers to Cricket Kenya of:
i. Replica wears.
ii. Development cricket gear and cricket balls.

ISHAN Sports will also benefit from having 4 No. Standards perimeter boards at all International matches played in Kenya.
The official signing of the contract will be held at Ruaraka Sports Club tomorrow afternoon as the Managing Director of IHSAN Sports is presently in Nairobi.

This is fantastic news for Kenyan cricket, and a real vindication for all the hard work that Cricket Kenya have been putting in over the last few months. However, while this takes up one of the main sponsorship slots, there are still some good ones out there if companies get a wriggle on. I'm thinking Drink Sponsor, Travel Sponsor to name just a couple. Get on board folks, this train is soon going to leave the station, and it could be a wonderful ride!

A Cop Out Of The Worst Sort

Zimbabwe are at it again. Having confirmed that they would be playing Kenya in a 5 match series, they have now decided with barely a week to go that they will change it to a 3 match series. This time the excuse is 'financial reasons', but the effect remains the same. By messing around with the schedule, Zimbabwe continue to try to do off field what it is unlikely their players can do on it, and that is keep Kenya from overtaking them on the ODI table. The ICC must not tolerate this. Had Kenya played 5 matches in Zimbabwe, we would have played enough games by the end of March to be ranked on the table. A victorious tour would have meant that we would have overtaken them on the table, and would thus qualify for the Champions Trophy in their stead. Preventing Kenya from having the chance to do this is unsportsmanlike, and considering the ducking and weaving that has gone on from Zimbabwe in the past, a continuation of extremely poor form.
Aside from the points factor, this will also mean that the players will be out of pocket to the tune of two match fees. When they have had none for so long, this will be a hard pill to swallow. This sort of nonsense from Zimbabwe has gone on for too long, and it is time the ICC stepped in and did something about it. If the reasons are truly financial, Zimbabwe should have foreseen that before they committed to the 5 game series. To change it at this late date without penalty would be to let them get away with what is essentially robbery. Zimbabwe should forfeit the points from the two lost matches to Kenya, and they should be counted as qualifying matches towards the ICC rankings for Kenya. Further, Zimbabwe should still be liable to pay the match fees to the Kenya and Zimbabwe players who are now out of pocket.
Anything else would be a travesty of justice, and would seriously damage the reputation of the ICC and it's ability to control its members.

Payback Time

This cricinfo report by Martin Williamson on Kenya's history against Zimbabwe doesn't make particularly pleasant reading for a Kenya fan. He does I think miss two fairly important points. First was the tour at the end of last year to Zimbabwe before the finals of the Intercontinental Trophy. True it was officially Zimbabwe 'A' that Kenya played, but the team was almost entirely made up of players actually in Zimbabwe's Test or One Day team. It may not have been official, but can give us a bit of an idea of the directions the two teams are headed. In terms of results, Kenya blitzed all the matches, and will almost certainly use this as a confidence booster ahead of the coming series. They will be facing several of the same players again, and our training, from what I have heard has been more focussed and cohesive. That is not to say we should be complacent - far from it, but we know that if we play to our potential we should win. Second is the fact that Zimbabwe are a team on the demise. Kenya should be on the rise. Where Zimbabwe have lost the backbone of their team, Kenya have retained it, and been able to bolster it with some talented youngsters. History may have the record written as 13 - 1 in favour of Zimbabwe, but it is now time for payback.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

ICC Meeting

ICC bosses meet this week to discuss a variety of things, amoung them the possibility of a Twenty-20 World championship, and a restructure of the Champions Trophy. One would expect some serious changes to be made to the super sub and powerplay rules as well.
How much will this meeting impact on Kenya is difficult to tell. The national team has had little chance to experience the trialled rules at the top level, so their removal or change would probably do us more good than harm. A Twenty-20 World Champs? Bring it on - this form of the game could really be where the smaller nations can cause upsets, and Kenya play a fair amount domestically. Changes to the champions trophy could be a cause for concern. Already, Kenya has nearly lost out with the last restructuring, so hopefully, It will not be any further restricted. For the good of the game internationally, as well, it should be kept open to those outside the "rich" bracket.
Lastly, there may be some discussion about the number of games played by the upcoming nations. So far, according to rumours, the ICC have been working quite hard to get more games for the Associates against full members. This must be reinforced if cricket is to continue to grow globally.
Fingers crossed, the outcomes of this meeting will benefit rather than damage Kenyan cricket and its prospects over the next year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Where Are The Sponsors?

It is only just over a week until Kenya arrive in Zimbabwe to play a 5 game series to mark their return to International cricket proper. Cricket Kenya has made some fantastic gains in getting Kenya, not only this tour, but also the tour to Bangladesh that follows in March. Yet, up till now, there has been no news of a sponsor. This is both concerning, and puzzling. It is concerning, as lack of sponsorship is one thing that is holding Kenyan cricket back, even as it strives to reassert itself. Cricket Kenya, and the provincial bodies have, from what I have seen, got the drive to make huge gains for cricket in Kenya, but they need the financial backing to do so. Sponsorship would make a huge difference to the game in Kenya over the next year or so, and a sponsor would get a lot of mileage out of the publicity. Not just in Kenya, but internationally - there are a lot of people out there who would sit up and take notice should Kenya perform well in either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh. With the talent available, and the coaching staff we now have, this is not just a pipedream, it could well become a reality.
Where then are the sponsors? The tainted Kenya Cricket Association has been disbanded, and replaced with a fresh body, Cricket Kenya, so worries associated with the previous regime and how the monies would be spent no longer apply. Cricket has had a fresh start with the new team, in administrative terms, on the field and financially. With ICC backing for more matches almost assured, a sponsor could potentially look forward to a busy schedule giving them plenty of publicity. In the next month alone, there will be in the region of 10 full One Day Internationals for the National team, and plenty of domestic cricket being played as well. In terms of sponsorship, it makes sense. This is the best chance a sponsor will get to stand up and give cricket their backing. Once Kenya have proved themselves again, the queue to get in the door could be a long one. So to all the companies out there: Carpe Diem, and show a little bit of national spirit while you are about it!

Mishra Fires For Aga Khan

Tanmey Mishra blasted 109 for Aga Khan, as they put on a massive 368 against Nairobi Institute on Sunday. It was a good day for the 19-year-old Kenya team hopeful in the match, as he also took 3 wickets for 19. Ashish Karia, also in the provisional squad, contributed 40 runs for Aga khan, and took 2-20 with the ball which would have done his prospects no damage either. It is heartening to see some of the younger players really making their mark, especially as this is a very good time for players to be hitting form. With the Tour to Zimbabwe just over a week away, it will soon be crunch time for the final selection.
One player who, to my mind was a surprising omission from the provisional squad, Brijal Patel, also put on an impressive 65, to show that there is still fight in him. If he keeps that up during the rest of the season, he may convince the selectors to give him a recall later on in the year.
Nairobi Institute never really looked like being in the run chase, and folded for only 131 with 9 overs still to go in their innings. A big win for Aga Khan.

Match summary:
Aga Khan 368 (Mishra 109, Brijal Patel 65, Karia 40, S.Cockar 2-65, K.Bhaigi 2-65) beat Nairobi Institute 131 (Ritesh Patel 23, Mishra 3-19, Brijal Patel 2-10, Karia 2 -20, A. Thampy 2 - 39) by 237 runs.

Credit where it is due: The results are taken from the original report by Richard Mwangi in (wait for it…) The Nation.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Response From the Nation

Well well well, it only took five emails (from me - I don't know about the rest of you),and an article on the website, but I have finally received a response from The Nation in regard to my claim that cricket is not covered well enough by the Kenyan press. Apparently I am grossly out of tune, prejudiced and unfair in my report. In an email to me this afternoon, the sports editor took great pains to point out that the Nation did cover Kenyan cricket extensively. Fantastic, great to hear! Unfortunately all this coverage is in print, and only a little online. Not so fantastic. Apparently, I am also ill informed, as I only get my news from their website, not the actual paper. Of course I am ill informed - that was the whole point of my gripe! It may well be the case that the Nation has been covering cricket to a great extent (something I highly commend them for), but as several of you said to me in your emails before I wrote the last post: None of it is accessible to people outside Kenya. So for those of us who are, I'm sorry but the media are woefully lacking in their coverage. I will stand by this until I see results that show otherwise. If this offends, so be it - I'm only calling what I see (or don't).
I was pleased however, to get the reply from the Nation, its language not withstanding. It did indicate that someone there does actually care about cricket coverage. One part of the email did bother me however, and that was where he claimed it was time consuming for a journalist to hop around clubs around the country collecting results. Yes, it is nice when results are just handed to you on a plate, but who ever heard of a journalist landing a really good story without having to do a little bit of running around? After all, 12 matches were played in Nairobi on Sunday, surely a little hopping around could be done to some of those at least?
His point is valid to some extent however - If the people running cricket want it to spread, they should do whatever they can to aid that. Including furnishing the press with results. From my experiences so far, there is a mixed basket here. Without mentioning names, some people have been fantastic and jumped at a new chance to promote the game, some have held back, and some have maintained strict communications silence. It is clear I need to do a bit more hopping around myself!
In all seriousness though, Kenya cricket needs all the help it can get. This means the press publishing reports and results not just in local papers, but online, so the World believes we do actually play. It means the administration communicating with the press to make it easier to get results and news. Most of all it means working together, everyone connected with cricket in Kenya, for the good of the game. I hope it is the spirit of Harambee that wins out, and not any personal agendas.

Kenyan Media Letting The Game Down

One of the reasons I was spurred into starting this site was the paucity of coverage for Kenya cricket on the internet. Cricinfo, and the BBC are probably the best sources of 'big', stories on Kenyan cricket, but have little information about what is going on below International level. Kenya's newspapers, which should be reporting on things at this level are either sadly uninformed, or simply disinterested. This has to change if cricket is to grow at grass roots level.
In part, pressure should come from the organisations running cricket in Kenya - Cricket Kenya, the NPCA, CCA and other domestic institutions. Even the clubs themselves could do more to convince the newspapers that they should be reporting on cricket. For individuals who visit this site, and are interested in the future of Kenyan cricket, I would urge you to write to the papers to encourage them to give it more attention. I have already done so several times, but I if more people complain, they may be more likely to do something about it. The addresses for the three main Dailies are:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kenya's Schedule and its Ramifications

With Kenya's 5 match tour to Zimbabwe definitely on, and the Holland matches at the end of March, all we need final confirmation of now is what exactly will happen in Bangladesh. We do know one thing, and that is Kenya are going, and we will be playing either a tri-series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, or a stand-alone series against Bangladesh. One would expect the tri-series to comprise a couple of preliminary matches against each team, and then hopefully the final. So potentially 5 matches there for Kenya. Should Zimbabwe not turn up (and with the table as it stands, the only way they can afford to do that is by beating Kenya 5-0 - like that will happen, otherwise they risk being overtaken), then Bangladesh and Kenya will probably play either a 3 or 4 match series. Then it is a quick return to Nairobi to take on Holland in an ODI before the 4 Day Intercontinental Cup tie. All in all, Kenya will play between 9 and 11 ODIs before April 1. Counting the 2 played at the Champions Trophy '04 (counts as 1 for points weighting, but 2 for qualifying to rankings), that will be a minimum of 10 ODIs not including Holland. Enough to qualify for a ranking on the ODI ladder, so long as we win at least 2 of those matches.
It will be fitting for Kenya to be the first of the Associates to be ranked, as we have been there before, but lost it due to not being given any matches by Full Members. Even more vindicating for Cricket Kenya and the hard work that is going on behind the scenes, would be for Kenya to leapfrog either Bangladesh or Zimbabwe on the table. This is a definite possibility if the Kenyans play to their potential, and will go a long way towards convincing the rest of the teams out there that we are worth playing.
Once we are on the table, I believe it will be in our best interests to not only look for more matches against the other Full Members, but also play enough against the other 5 Associates that they too have played enough matches to qualify. With the 60% rule applying, this would then mean that it will not be too long before one of the others join us on the table, probably either Scotland or Ireland. Once there are a couple of Associates on the table who can earn points by playing each other, it will force teams just above them on the table to play them to avoid being overtaken. In turn, this will give the Associates greater experience, and a chance to move up the table themselves. If Kenya can make it onto the table, it will put them very firmly in the driving seat in regards to the other Associate members, and also to a certain extent teams like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and even currently the West Indies. This could be a very good couple of months for Kenyan Cricket, should we get the right results on the pitch. Well done to Samir Inamdar, and his team at Cricket Kenya, Keep up the good work!