Friday, December 29, 2006

Tikolo Kenyan Player of the Year 2006

Steve Tikolo finished top of the voting in the Cricket Europe Kenyan player of the year. All credit to him for a wonderful 12 months in which he held the team together through tough times, produced personal best's in both forms of the game and really took it to Kenya's opponents. A great year from a great player leading from the front. May 2007 be even better!
He is now through to the poll for Cricket Europe Associate player of the year, so go to Cricket Europe - Kenya and get voting.

2006 in review

My review of Kenyan cricket in 2006 can be read here on Cricket Europe - Kenya.

A second article with an analysis will follow shortly.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First in, best dressed...

I just thought I would point out a couple of articles written by me and published on Cricket Europe on 17th and 19th December and an article published on cricinfo today. See any similarities?

My articles:
NPCA washed out 19/12/06
Two horse race in Mombasa 17/12/06
The cricinfo article:
Kanbis clean up 27/12/06

I don't think anything more needs to be said...

What agenda is being pushed by the Nation?

Readin Chris Tsuma's review of the year gone by in today's Nation (the article is titled: Tikolo mellows with age), I wondered - and not for the first time, what exactly Cricket Kenya have done to get the Nation off-side.
Mind you, his article does have some positives in it and compared to some we have seen from the paper over the last year is an improvement on some of the vitriolic nonsense that has been written about Cricket Kenya by a supposed neutral organisation. At least credit is given to the players that have performed well. Tikolo, Mishra, Varaiya and Odoyo all come out with positive reports, though Tsuma misses I think just how well some of them have played. No mention is made of Tikolo being top ranked of the Associate players in terms of batting, the fact that this year has also seen Odoyo reach several personal bests nor that Varaiya took a wicket with his first ever ball in ODIs. Peter Ongondo I feel also deserved a mention for his form earlier in the season, when he took a wicket in every match Kenya played.
It is Tsuma's overall assessment of the year which I think is most unfair:
"Save for the emergence of three young players as internationals and Tikolo’s continued batting form among a few positives, it has been an utterly forgettable year for Kenya cricket".
What a load of rubbish.
For the first time in several years, Kenya actually had a busy calendar year in terms of Internationals. Part of this was due to the ICC and the Intercontinental Cup, but no small amount of effort was put in by Cricket Kenya to secure the series against Bangladesh (twice), Zimbabwe, the Australian Acadamy and Uganda. Irrespective of the results, this should be seen as a definite positive for Cricket Kenya.
Kenya was also confirmed as the hosts for the WCL Division 1, the Africa Zone women's World Cup qualifiers and the 2010 Under 19 World Cup
Next, there is the issue of sponsorship. Lack of finances has been a real problem for Kenyan cricket after the mis-managment of the previous administration and it should be a huge credit to Cricket Kenya that they have signed two major deals to secure the future of the game. Tsuma's point about Cricket Kenya being unlikely to secure matches against the opposition they need to keep the Nimbus sponsorship is simply uninformed. Samir Inamdar has access to plenty of administrators from Test nations through his post at the ICC and there is a definite push for teams to visit Kenya on their way to or from South Africa and Zimbabwe. Cricket Kenya would not have signed the deal if they did not have the belief they would get the required matches.
His claim that the details of the Nimbus partnership are sketchy is plainly untrue. Cricket Kenya released pretty much all the details of the contract: exactly how much they will get, what the conditions were etc. All those who reported on the partnership came out with the view it was a definite positive for Kenyan cricket.
Claims that the NPCA are running the only domestic competition are also either at best not researched, at worst clear fabrication. In Mombasa, the CCA league is about 3/4 completed and will wind up in February next year. Rift Valley successfully completed the Akshar League and will start the RVCA main league in January. Successful six-a-side and junior competitions were also hosted by NPCA, RVCA and Kisumu. CCA also successfully hosted the Atul Shah tournament. True, there has been no provincial tournament set up as promised (it has been put back until after the WCL), but to call domestic cricket dead is an insult to all those playing in Kenya and to those working hard to revitalise the game.
This year has also seen Kenya come within a rained off match off winning it's first ever ODI series against a Full member when we drew 2-2 with Zimbabwe. Then we completed our first ever series win by beating Canada 2-0, before registering our first ever home series win against Bermuda 3-0. True, there have been low points, most noteably the losses to Bangladesh and the failure to get through to the Intercontinental Cup final, but it has been far from a forgettable year.
It is high time that the Nation started to show more responsibilty in their reporting. There has been constant criticism of Cricket Kenya at a time when they are trying very hard to rebuild the game after inheriting a complete mess. They need to be given the support neccessary to achieve this, or if that is beyond the Nation correspondents, at lest they should be given fair coverage with credit given where it is due.
In case anyone thought I was alone in my opinion on this, here is the link to what cricinfo have to say.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A few things I'd like

First up, a belated Very Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope you all had a great day, whatever your faith, and that the next year brings you all that you hope for. With this in mind, I thought I would look at Kenyan cricket and make a small wish-list of the things I would like to see put in place for 2007. This is a time when all of the other Associates are making changes and improving themselves, and if we are not careful, we will fall behind. Without further preamble, here are the things I think we need to see if the game is to continue to thrive in Kenya:
  • A domestic competition bringing together the top players from each province, plus possibly Uganda and Tanzania. I have talked about this before, but if each province gets 1 team in the regional comp plus 1 extra team for every 10 teams playing in their league(s), it would work out about right at the moment. Assuming that Uganda and Tanzania each get 1 team, the make up would be as follows: NPCA - 3 teams, CCA, Rift Valley & Central (?) 1 team each.
  • 3 or 4 day domestic cricket - preferably as part of the above provincial tournament, but if not at least bringing together the top 50 players in Kenya. Again it would be great to include Uganda and Tanzania.
  • Leagues set up at Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17 levels. Could be started with schools and clubs that already play. A must if we are to keep ahead of our rivals.
  • More 4 day cricket for the national team. There is no reason that when we play teams in the Intercontinental Cup, we cannot play a series of say 3 games against them of which only one counts towards the Intercontinental cup.
  • A Publicity Manager for Cricket Kenya. Too often there is no way of publicising what they are doing and there is certainly no active Press Officer that I know of. Someone needs to be brought in who can not only market the game to the public, but keep the press informed and on-side, maintain the website (currently an embarrassment) and generally promote the game.
  • A Player's Association or Union. It is imperative that players are represented by one of their own at the administrative level of the game.
  • A turf wicket for Nakuru. They have an active administration who are trying to grow the game. To produce players who can compete with those from Nairobi and Mombasa, they must have the chance to play on a proper wicket.
  • Regular fixtures for the A team/Under 19 team. Kenya needs to groom the youngsters who will one day play for the national team. A home tour by Denmark and the Uganda tour in January (more comments on this here) are perfect opportunities to put this in place. We must not miss out on another U19 World Cup, and we must be competitive when we do qualify.
  • Better coverage of cricket in the local media. This would tie in with the Press Officer position I noted above, but could also be helped by all involved in cricket writing to/phoning/emailing radio stations, TV stations and newspapers.
  • More provinces and clubs to set up and maintain their own websites. So far only the CCA and three clubs are represented on the web, and none of those are regularly updated.
  • More ODI games against Test sides after the World Cup. I know this is an area where Cricket Kenya has done exceptionally well so far, but it needs to continue. Not just for the sake of the standard of Kenyan cricket, but to keep Nimbus happy and the cash coming in through sponsorship as well.
  • Greater communication and cooperation between all involved in Kenyan cricket. This next year is a huge opportunity for the game in Kenya. We are playing in the World Cup, hosting the WCL and the biggest team sport in Kenya (football) is in all sorts of difficulties. It is an opportunity that used correctly should bring a huge boost to player and supporter numbers.

It is a lot to ask I know, and there are several things there that will take more than a year to really get up and going. However, as I mentioned above, this is perhaps the best ever opportunity Kenyan cricket will have in the foreseeable future. It is imperative for the game that 2007 is not allowed to go to waste.