Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Title, Promotion or the Chop

With one game to go in the NPCA 50 Over League we take a look at which sides are in the running for titles, promotion and relegation.

Only two sides can now win the Super Division after Stray Lions A had their match vs Kanbis B called off due to the wet Peponi pitch. Stray Lions could however upset the apple cart with a big win over Swamibapa A who they play in their final match. Swamibapa are a mere 7 points away from the title, so a full compliment of bonus points would still be enough to break a long drought. Their challengers, Kanbis take on SCLYL 'A' in a match they are almost certain to win with close to maximum points. Should Swamibapa slip up, Kanbis could yet sneak home for their 6th straight title.

At the relegation end of the division, a close battle looms between Sir Ali A (58 points) and Simba Union (53 points). Given that Simba Union failed to show at home against Telca, neutrals will be hoping Sir Ali take enough from their final game (Telca) to stay up. There should be no place in the top flight for sides that cannot raise a team or be bothered to show.

Promotion from Division 1 is a 2 two horse race between Nairobi Nookers A (220 points) and Swamibapa B (211 points). Both play opposition that they should defeat in their final matches with Nookers away to Ruaraka A and Swamis hosted by Jafferys who secured their position in the league with last week’s win over Ruaraka. Sensible money would be on Nookers to do enough to move up to the Super Division in 2010.

Relegation from Division 1 is already a formality for Nairobi Gymkhana, not long ago one of the powerhouses of Kenyan cricket. Their relegation underlines a problem for the administration as they own the best ground in Kenya – one that should be used for Super Division games. Their failure to turn up for last week’s match however speaks volumes and perhaps it is no bad thing that there are a new breed of clubs rising to the surface.

One such club is Stray Lions and their B team are already assured of promotion from Division II even if they were not to play this coming weekend. Such has been their dominance of the division, at times aided by appearances by their A team players, that they hold a 31 point advantage over second placed Golden XI.

At the bottom of Div II, Qutbis will be looking for a miracle to avoid the drop as they need both a full 20 points and Simba Union B to score none and concede a penalty point. It is a remote chance and odds are that come 2010 they will be back in the dungeon.

Coming up from Division III will be Parklands – once a team to feature in the Super Division with their A team. Hopefully this season is a sign of resurgence as they mixed a blend of experience and youth to stroll to the division title. With enough support, their 2010 campaign could see enough talent and depth for them to once again feature 2 teams in the competition.

NPCA wooden spooners will be the debutants Women’s team, but they should be able to hold their heads up high as players have produced individual performances of note and the team the memorable win over Oshwal XI. Their inclusion in the league should be seen as a success and should be added to with a second Ladies side, after all with over 30 players competing for places, it hardly seems likely they would be unable to field a side. Perhaps Cricket Kenya could fund an U19 side to aid development, or make an even bolder move and split them into East and West sides. It could be the beginnings of a fantastic rivalry and the birth of a whole new league.

With 31 teams in the current competition and 16 grounds used, expansion of the competition beyond 1 more team would however be reliant on more grounds being found to accommodate the new sides. This must be something that both Cricket Kenya and the NPCA look to achieve as without growth comes stagnation. How about the promised support from the Sports Ministry…

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