Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The gap is closing

Yesterday Kenya Under 15s went down in a hard fought match to Uganda to finish second in the regional championship. It was not a bad effort from the team and they showed plenty of potential during the tournament. Earlier in the year, the Under 19 team missed out on qualifying for the World Cup when they were beaten by Namibia. In Denmark's recent tour of Kenya where they played a variety of development teams including Kenya A, they left the country unbeaten.
These are not good signs.

During the recent stakeholders meeting, it was noted that standards in the NPCA league are dropping. Despite all the infighting and politicking that goes on, the NPCA are still the only body organising regular and competitive cricket. As far as I am aware (and it is not through want of trying for information) little competitive cricket has been played in either Coast or Rift Valley in the last 6 months, maybe more. Again, these are not good signs.

A country's national team strength is based on its domestic structure and Kenya are in real danger of losing out to the chasing pack. Sponsorship money is in for the Zonal league and it should take off soon. It is not before time and will be a welcome boost to the top 60 players in the country as they get to play each other on a regular basis at all forms of the game. It will certainly help those players and will benefit the national team.

What will happen to the rest of the players however? It is imperative that Cricket Kenya also look to the development and promotion of the game to grow the grass root numbers, especially at a youth level. It is a must that development at school age be driven at a national level and not left up to individuals and clubs. Those clubs that do have good development systems, such as Kongonis, need to be supported and other clubs need to be given assistance to do the same. Private schools should also be brought into the fold to add their facilities and player base. From my days at Kenton, I am sure there are players from that circle who would add strength to the national teams at Under 13 and Under 15 level and hence benefit the overall standards of the game.

Without a good feed of players from junior ranks, Kenya will continue to lose ground to the chasing pack. It is as simple as that and all stakeholders in Kenyan cricket need to put aside their differences and realise that unless they cooperate to grow the game at youth level, all their bickering will be in vain anyway.

No comments: