Friday, June 26, 2009
In a bombshell to Kenyan cricket delivered at the ICC board meeting, it has been decided that Kenya is now deemed unfit to host the 2010 Under 19 World Cup.
According to an ICC press release:
The Board received a report on the readiness of Kenya to host the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup 2010.
It concluded that with only eight months to go before the event, which Cricket Kenya was awarded in 2006, it was unrealistic to expect Kenya to be ready to host given the large amount of work still needing to be done, despite some grounds such as the Mombasa Sports Ground (above) already better than several ODI pitches elsewhere in the World - this photo was taken on june 18th 2009. courtesy CCA webpage.
It was agreed that New Zealand would be the location for the tournament, subject to the agreement of satisfactory terms.
ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said: “We have been working with Kenya to monitor their progress towards staging the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup for some time, with visits to the locations earmarked for matches and regular reports to the ICC Board.
“Regrettably, the conclusion reached was that the amount of work still to be done to get many of the venues ready was such that retaining Kenya as a host represented too great a risk to the successful staging of the event.
“It is a difficult conclusion to have reached and a regrettable one from the perspectives of both the ICC and Cricket Kenya, but with just eight months to go before the scheduled start, we could not proceed on the basis of hoping that everything would be ready next February.
“The ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup is the highest profile event in the ICC’s development calendar. Coverage of the matches is broadcast all around the world and it is a recognised stepping stone for players to graduate to full international level.
“By way of examples, since the latest edition of the tournament, in Malaysia in February/March last year, India’s Virat Kohli, Wayne Parnell of South Africa and New Zealand’s Tim Southee have all gone on to play for their countries.
“We hope Kenya will be able to stage ICC events in the future and we are grateful to New Zealand Cricket for its offer to stage the tournament. It did so successfully in 2002 and we look forward to it doing so again in 2010.”
This is an absolute disaster for Kenyan cricket and also seems like pretty harsh treatment from the ICC. Eight months is hardly the "short" period of time they seem to think. Stadia for Olympics have been rushed to completion in less time, it is hardly as though Kenya could not get pitches and facilities organised in this time. What is especially puzzling is that when the ICC last inspected the preparations, they expressed themselves happy with how things were going. There was no indication they were unhappy, certainly no indication that they were so disappointed that the venue would have to be changed.
Ramifications for Kenya from this are massive and devastating. Cricket Kenya has invested millions of shillings in upgrading the facilities, which while it will benefit club level domestic cricket in the country could have gone far further in establishing and promoting the game at the grass roots level which is where the most pressing work needs to be done. Whether the ICC will be willing to assist Cricket Kenya in recovering from this remains to be seen, but given their shortsightedness and desire for money it is unlikely.
Kenya sent an understrength team to the regional qualifiers based on the fact that as they had already qualified, it would be better to let some less experienced players get a taste of experience and allow some of the more senior players to study for their exams. Or so it was claimed by Cricket Kenya after the teams sorry performance. This may now turn around to bite Kenya in the foot as again the ICC has not made it clear whether losing their hosting rights also means Kenya will lose their automatic qualification. If it does, it will mean Kenya will have missed out on the last 3 Under 19 World Cups - a damning statistic in the light of the improving nations snapping at their heels.
For Cricket Kenya, it will also come as a massive blow as it is in effect a vote of no confidence from the highest echelons of the ICC. There is already criticism from several quarters at home that will quadruple in the light of the lack of faith now shown by the ICC. They will need to act fast and decisively if this is not going to sweep them away. The last thing Kenyan cricket needs is more infighting, but this is exactly what this decision will spawn.
Hopefully this is a decision that Cricket Kenya will appeal - and appeal they must, however unlikely it may seem that the ICC may change its mind. At the top of Cricket Kenya are some very savvy lawyers, this must now be the time for them to earn their keep. They could start with the question of if Kenya was a Test nation would this happen? Example: West Indies World Cup 2007. That was an organisational disaster right down to the final, but the Windies were never threatened with losing it, let alone 8 months out. As usual with the ICC treatment of Associates, this stinks and Cricket Kenya must do whatever they can to correct it.