Kenya January 26, 2007

All people want is fairness

Astounding as it seems, the slanted reporting from certain journalists in Kenya's Nation newspaper has continued in recent weeks.

Astounding as it seems, the slanted reporting from certain journalists in Kenya's Nation newspaper has continued in recent weeks.

The Nation's cricket coverage is now so slanted as to be damaging its international reputation, as well as its domestic one. It is Kenya's leading and most respected newspaper and yet it one or two of its staff repeatedly attack the board of Cricket Kenya, whereas at the height of the battle between stakeholders and the old Kenyan Cricket Association it barely raised a whimper.

Skewed reporting aside, other questions need to be asked. Why does the Nation pay so little time actually talking to board officials and players? Tsuma is not rated by most of the team and that accounts for the fact they will not deal with him. Earlier this month they attacked Cricket Kenya's deal with Nimbus, calling the details "sketchy". Well, Cricinfo knew the details because we asked. But no reporter from The Nation attended the press conference despite assurances from Chris Tsuma and Richard Mwangi that they would be there. The excuses given were lame and they made no attempt to follow up.

And match coverage has been dismal. The reports on the Bermuda tri-series last November were almost non existent, even thought the board sent daily updates. Criticism of the lack of progress made by CK has been a regular feature of the paper's cricket coverage, but no mention has been made of the new league established in Rift Valley, for example, nor of the fact that Kenya have played 16 ODIs this year, in contrast to two in the previous 30 months.

With regards to the Tri-Series in Mombasa, the paper gave lip service to matches with the bare minimum of coverage. They did manage to comment on the illness which caused the cancellation of last weekend’s Kenya-Canada match, claiming that “some of the gloss” was taken off the event.

As it was, Kenya won the tournament. Not that that would appease Chris Tsuma, whose one-eyed view of the game is well documented. At the start of the year he wrote: "Not much is expected from the team whose only international match practice since then have been restricted to minor skirmishes with fellow minnows Canada, Bermuda, Ireland, Scotland, Namibia with a splash of India and Pakistan (in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy) and Bangladesh thrown in."

He went on to refer to a "lack of any development programmes, funding and absence of a competitive domestic competition". A five-minute phone call to any of the board's senior officials would clear all that up, but he prefers to write without the distraction of such research.

All cricketers in Kenya have a right to know the truth and they also have a right to be told the truth. While newspapers should hold those running sports, governments etc to account, they have a duty to present the facts. The sad reality here is that The Nation is guilty of failing in that regard where it's cricket coverage is concerned.

People are not stupid and they know what is happening. They are aware of the legacy inherited by Cricket Kenya, and they aware that there is progress, however slow it might be. At the end of the day, the only loser is the reputation of a fine newspaper. Its senior editors owe it to their readers to intervene and end the constant and often slanted sniping at Cricket Kenya . They should also ask what is driving Tsuma’s attacks.

We would all be interested to know what they find. The way they cover the World Cricket League, the most important cricketing event in the country since the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy, will be fascinating to see.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa