Friday, April 21, 2006

Kericho And Eldoret Eye Top Spot In Nakuru

Rain permitting, Eldoret take on Kericho this Sunday in a match that will see the winner go top of the Akshar League standings in Nakuru; at least until Akshar A play bottom placed Naivasha next week. It should be an interesting struggle, as so far it has been Kericho's batting that won them their first match, while Eldoret needed some tight lines from their bowlers to defend a low total. Kericho will no doubt be looking for another decent knock from their top and middle order batsmen, and are my picks to walk away with a victory. In their last match Rashmi, Toxy and Dilpesh all looked capable with the bat, while Jignesh will be expected to do the damage when he opens the bowling. Eldoret will really need their batsmen to step up a notch this match, and will again be looking for all-rounder Tajesh to make them competitive. If he can get somewhere close to his six-wicket haul of the last match, they may yet be in with a shout. Fingers crossed that the rain holds off just long enough for them to get the cricket in!

NPCA season to kick off with 6-a-side Competition

Nairobi's 2006 season is set to begin on Saturday 29th of April with a 6-a-side competition that will run through to the Public Holiday on Monday 1st of May. Hosted by Shree Cuthci Lewa Youth League, the tournament is expected to be attended by most Nairobi clubs. Invites are already out to the NPCA sanctioned event, and it looks like being a very enjoyable festival of cricket in the capital. The Nairobi board are also working with the Rift Valley association to promote a similar event to be held in Nakuru towards the end of May. It is the intention of the NPCA to use the Nairobi event to launch the calendar for the new season, and will also likely see the opening of the 2006 Transfer Market.
Meanwhile the heavy rains in Nairobi have put a hold on most of the cricket in the capital. The NPCA 45-over tournament is still at the semi-final stage, and they are waiting for the weather to clear up before play can be resumed. Rain permitting, it is hoped that this can happen before the end of April, but this is looking increasingly unlikely. Still, it is well needed rain for the country, so no-one is complaining just yet.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Emphasis On Coaching In Nairobi

With Nairobi looking forward to Terry Jenner's visit in May, local players and coaches have also been put through their paces during a 4-day Level 2 coaching course. Organised through Cricket Kenya and ICC Africa, the course was conducted by Harry Shappiro who was assisted by National Team coach Roger Harper. 15 players and coaches from around Kenya attended the course, and are looking forward to putting their new skills into practice. A set coaching pathway is due to be discussed during the ACA meeting coming up in South Africa.
Coaches who attended the course were:
  • Alfred Njuguna (Asst. National Coach)
  • Charles Obuya (Development Coach U 17) he did not attend the last two days
  • David Asiji (Development Coach U 15)
  • Rajab Ali (Ex- National Team Player and Development Coach Rift Valley)
  • Isak Khanna (Development Coach - Coast)
  • Dun Okinyo (Development Coach Ladies Cricket)

Good to see the three main regions represented, as well as the different national team coaches and the ladies. Lets hope they put this knowlege to quick use.

Players who attended the course were:

  • Steve Tikolo (National Team Captain)
  • Thomas Odoyo (National Team V/Captain)
  • Martin Suji (National team Opening Bowler)
  • Peter Ongondo (National Team Player)
  • Jimmy Kamande (National Team Player)
  • Kennedy Obuya (National Team Player) he did not attend the last day with no reason given.
  • Collins Obuya (National Team Player) he did not attend the last day with no reason given.
  • Morris ouma (National Team Player)
  • Joseph Angara (National Team Player)

It is great to see these players attending and keen to use the knowledge to help in cricket development within Kenya. A shame that the Obuya brothers were not able to attend the final days. Hopefully it was nothing serious that kept them away. Incentives like this are a great way of helping promote the game. Not only does it improve the level of coaching past and present players can give to those of the future, but it also helps towards giving them a continued career in the game once their playing days are over. Every project starts with baby-steps, but it certainly seems at the moment that Cricket Kenya is moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Jenner To Spin His Magic In Nairobi

Australian spin-bowling guru Terry Jenner will be in Nairobi to run a 4-day spin coaching clinic between 16th and 19th of May. Not only will this enable Jenner, widely regarded as the mentor behind the success of Shane Warne, to follow up on his earlier work with Collins Obuya, but will also benefit several of Kenya's up and coming spinners. For the youngsters selected to take part, this will be a priceless opportunity to work with a real coaching genius. The camp, organised by Cricket Kenya in conjunction with the ICC's High Performance manager Richard Done, will also be attended by a selected bowler from each of several other African countries. This camp is a huge coup for cricket organisers in Kenya, and is a further illustration of their efforts, and those of the ICC, to improve the standard of the game. There is no doubt that those attending will learn a lot in those four days. We look forward to seeing the results when Kenya A travel to denmark.

Forum and Caught Behind

It didn't take me too long to get fed up with the pop-ups, so I have moved the forum to join the Caught Behind site. This makes sense for a couple of reasons. One is that Caught Behind have decided to put together a joint blog comprising some of the best bloggers from each country. There being no other Kenya cricket blogs, that means I make the starting XI. Ha! Actually, I think it will be a very successful idea, and one I am proud to have been invited to be a part of. I believe the launch is coming up in the next couple of weeks, so watch this space...
The second reason is they offer the equivalent of what I would have to pay other sites to get, so it should work out quite well. Let me know your views if you don't like it, otherwise I look forward to sharing opinions and chatting about the game. I have linked direct to the Kenya forum in Cricket links. Once there, it is easy enough to visit the rest of the site if you wish. I will also put in a link to the blog aggregator when it is up and running.

Cricket In The Wild

I have been meaning to post on this for some time. Friends of Kenya Cricket - UK are organising a fundraising event in conjunction Friends website and follow the link to 'Cricket in the Wild'. There will be 8 teams in total, and the format will be 10 overs per innings. Prizes will be awarded to the winners, runners up, best sledger, and the most money raised. It may not be a lot of cricket, but it will raise a lot of money for the conservancy, and will get both the game and the projects into the news and talked about. As I have said before, any cricket in Kenya is good as far as I'm concerned, and it is great to see the FoKC site back up and running again. The tournament itself will not actually take place until September, so plenty of time for those who want to get a team in and support this great cause.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Uganda League To Start in May

According to this story from BTTW, the Castle Lager sponsored Cricket league in Uganda is due to start next month. With the Ugandans gaining in strength, and having a solid structure in place, maybe Kenya Breweries should get back in on the act and sponsor a national league in Kenya. After all, we don't want our neighbours overtaking us due to drinking the wrong beer! On a more serious note though, news about cricket does seem to come out of Uganda more frequently than it does out of Kenya. Cricket Kenya needs to seriously look at these two important issues soon. We must get a national competition under way, and we must do more in Kenya to promote the game. The results of not doing the first are not pleasant to contemplate, and any national tournament loses its potential impact in terms of sponsors/international aid if no one knows about it. I am keeping fingers crossed that we will hear something positive on this all soon.


I thought that it was worth trying a forum here. You can get to it by clicking on the button with the speech bubbles at the bottom of "cricket links". At the moment, it is there on a trial basis. As it is a free service, you have to put up with the odd pop up when you enter, but we shall see how it goes before going for a paid package without the ads. Hopefully we will get some good discussion going about cricket in Kenya and how we can take the game forward. Please feel free to put in your 2 bob's worth, but I do reserve the right to delete any inappropriate comments.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Fixtures List Updated

I have finally got around to updating the fixture list with results and to include the two development tours - Kenya 'A' to Denmark, and the Commonwealth Centre of Excellence (Australian) to Kenya. Hopefully we shall have some more to add to this list as the year progresses, especially in the way of 'A' team fixtures and youth matches etc. Fingers crossed!

Kenyan's Lose Places in World Rankings

This should not come as much surprise considering Kenya have not played any matches since the last update was done by the ICC, but Kenyan batsmen are certainly becoming something of a rarity in the top 100list of One Day players. Steve Tikolo is the safest, though he does slip a place to 77 on 423 points. Kennedy Otieno is Kenya's only other representative in the top 100 in 100= position (down 2) with 342 points. Unless there are some surprises in terms of the schedule ahead, he will almost certainly fall off the list next time it is updated. Hitesh Modi, who was Kenya's third representative, has already lost out with 338 points being insufficient to keep him on the list.
Kenya's bowlers are looking better represented with Odoyo actually moving up a place to 55th with 462 points. Peter Ongondo slips a place to 65th on 425, but will no doubt be looking to Kenya's next matches to try to overtake Thomas on the list. Collins Obuya moves down two to 68th on 417 points, resting on the back of his previous form. He will be hoping that a resurgence later in the year will keep him up there when Kenya travel to North America. Steve Tikolo, down 2 to 84 on 382 and Martin Suji, down 3 to 92nd on 358 round out the Kenyan players represented in the list.
As I pointed out before, Kenyans on this list will become rarer in the next couple of months as they are not scheduled to play any ODI games until they play four against Canada and Bermuda in early August. Other than Ongondo, most of the players are in the top 100 due to performances from previous years. As the Test nations blood new players in preparation for the World Cup, our boys will be increasingly under threat. This list alone sees 4 players jump over 30 places after the India-England series. We do however have several more matches in the pipeline for the rest of the year, and the players selected will then have a chance to improve their standings. One player who I expect to make an entry to the batting list in the not too distant future is Tanmay Mishra. Peter Ongondo should also be able to continue his climb and challenge Thomas Odoyo in the bowling. Here's hoping.

No Awards For Kenya As Neighbours Lead The Way

Uganda, Tanzania and Namibia have all won awards for cricket development as the judges announced the global winners of the ICC Development Program Annual Awards 2005. Kenya did not feature in any of the categories. Namibia won the UNAIDS Award for their work with the Christina Swart-Opperman - AIDS Orphan Trust. Tanzania won the category for Best Women's Cricket Initiative. It was Uganda however who can feel the most proud as they took the award for the Best Overall Cricket Development Program. All credit to our African brothers for their efforts, but Kenya must make sure that we are featured in a major way by the time the 2006 Awards come around.
As Cricket Kenya only took over towards the end of last year, and as they have had a huge mess to sort out, it was not really surprising that Kenya was eclipsed by its less highly ranked neighbours. This year is a completely different story. Kenya's slate has been wiped clean, and it is now time for our administrators to show why they were elected. Part of the secret of Uganda's success was in tripling the number of schools playing the game. Likewise Papua New Guinea, the winner of the Best Junior Cricket Initiative who attracted the involvement of over 22 schools and also raised over US$15,000 in sponsorship. This is the level that Kenya must concentrate on to build a solid cricket playing future. The efforts of Uganda and PNG are fantastic, but Kenya needs to look on their achievements not as the benchmark of success, but as half-way goals.
We already have a network of schools that are primed to be a nursery for future international players. Some are schools introduced to the game under the KCA, who then let the good start slip. There are a few private schools with full facilities such as nets and slip machines. Most are poor schools with hardly anything at all in the way of equipment. What Cricket Kenya has to do is bring these schools under one central program, and get them working together towards a common cause. Those schools that have the facilities and coaches need to be convinced to share their bounty with other schools in their area that do not have the same benefits. There must also be a tangible goal for the youngsters to aspire towards. With the advancements that Uganda and Tanzania are making, we have already seen a regional competition for the youth sides. This needs to be made a regular feature of the calendar, but there is also potential for touring sides to be put together to incorporate the best youngsters and give them greater exposure. School age tours need to be arranged not only to our immediate neighbours but also other African nations such as South Africa and Namibia, possibly even Europe.
Kenya needs to cultivate an interest in cricket amoung our youth and through them, the rest of the public. Starting this could be as simple as retired national players doing tours of schools and colleges to explain and teach the game. A method that has worked overseas is to introduce gate prizes at domestic games such as a cash prize for a spectator who catches a six. Schools could be encouraged to bring children to watch matches through free entry, art/literary competitions based on participants watching a cricket match or coaching clinics between innings.
Growing the game will almost certainly mean getting support from the print, tv and radio media. It may even have to include paid adverts in some of these if they will not come on board voluntarily. Almost certainly, it will need sponsorship from companies within Kenya, and possibly even abroad. Good news for Cricket Kenya is that at the moment, there is not a lot of competition in the way of well organised sport for the public to watch. Even soccer, often regarded as the main spectator sport in Kenya often plays to empty stands. Kenya's economy is weak, but I believe it is still strong enough to build a solid spectator base if people are given their money's worth. Publicise the events, educate the public while treating them with the respect they are due, and they will respond by filling seats. It is not going to happen overnight, but with well publicised matches and development programs, it is certainly possible. There are 9 awards given out for the ICC to reward development. There is no reason why Kenya cannot take home at least one of these next time around, preferably relieving our Ugandan neighbours of the main title.