30 October 2011

Kenya: Tough Task Ahead for CK

The spirits of players, fans, sponsors, officials and transmission crew of pan-African Pay-TV channel SuperSport were literally dampened on Saturday at the Nairobi Gymkhana when heavy rains led to the abandonment of finals of the Crown Berger East Africa Cricket Competitions.

On Saturday, Ugandan sides Rwenzori Warriors and Nile Knights were meant to meet in the final of the T20 East Africa Premier League, while on Sunday, Kenya's Kongonis were scheduled to play Nile Knights in the final of the 50-overs East Africa Cup. There were four Kenyan franchises in the tournament.

Even though there was just an intermittent little drizzle at the time the Saturday match was supposed to start, the outfield was soaked, thanks to heavy rains that had fallen for two consecutive days.

That also led to the cancellation of the Sunday match after it became clear the outfield would not be dry enough even the following day.

That was an anticlimax to a twin-tournament that had not only given hope of a revival of regional cricket, but had also brought in sponsors which included Kenya Airways which is the main sponsor of the Seven's rugby team.

All is not lost though, and Cricket Kenya CEO Tom Sears who was one of the people behind the regional tournament meant to help Kenya select a national team, said the finals would be played in December.

Even tough there was only one Kenyan side in the finals, Sears remained upbeat it was not all in vain, considering that the Alpesh Vadher-led National Selection Panel had picked out two sets of players for the national team.

Team selection

In the process of selecting the national team, CK also gave a lifeline to former players who had been dropped when they refused to sign contracts due to terms and conditions which they considered unfavourable.

For several months, CK and players fumbled and bumbled and flip-flopped over the contractual terms and when some players pulled out of the EACC hours before their departure to Uganda, they were dropped by CK and their franchises.

"We want to put the past behind and when they apologised, we brought them back to the fold," Sears said.

"Our aim is to build a strong national side and that is why we have appointed a national coach, put in place a selection panel and effected changes to have a good team for the remaining ICC Intercontinental Cup matches and other fixtures going forward."

Kenya's coach, Mike Hesson, a New Zealander appointed after an international search which involved a long-drawn short-listing process and a spate of interviews, tasted defeat in Holland on his first international innings and needs to work harder for his charges to qualify.

So far, Kenya has registered only one win in four of its ICC Intercontinental Cup matches and for it to qualify for the 2015 World Cup, it needs to pull up its pads what with the ICC Executive Board resolving that the Intercontinental Cup-playing sides which finish in the top two by October 2013 are the ones which will automatically qualify for the CWC in 2015.

Players recalled and named in the national training squad include former national skipper Morris Ouma, Alex Obanda, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Alex Ngoche, Shem Ngoche and Elijah Otieno.

Much time gets wasted in solving non-issues and a strong team can only be constituted when CK and players stop fighting and concentrate on their core businesses.

With the selection of the National Training and Emerging Players squads, it is time for CK to stop its one-upmanship, players to end their antagonism and other stakeholders to be impartial if the impact of the changes effected are to be felt and positive results realised.

But considering past experiences, that is easier written than done.

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