Cause for hope in Kenya
There is a renewed mood of optimism in the Kenya cricket camp following their five-wicket victory over the Netherlands last week.
Although it is still unlikely that the result will give Kenya passage to the Intercontinental Cup final in Dubai in November, it is proof that the sterner regime inaugurated by coach Eldine Baptiste is beginning to pay off. Cricketers can now go around with a smile on their faces following a crucial win in which all departments performed well, although the fielding is in desperate need of some tidying up.
The game was all the talk in Nairobi cricketing circles at the weekend when Kongonis, who are a main arm in the development of the game in the country, held their annual Chairman's XI v Patron's XI fixture at Nairobi Club. There the match, which included national assistant coach Martin Suji appearing for the Chairman's XI, was watched by more people than had been at most of the international fixtures at Gymkhana.
That fact must be a worry for Cricket Kenya (CK), although the despondency that fell upon the country after the withdrawal by the ICC of the Under-19 World Cup in January has been partly sloughed off. Nonetheless, this set a pall over Kenya's cricket-loving fraternity and the various agencies associated with it, such as the tourism sector, for several months.
Now CK needs to look again to the future, market the game more creatively, encourage spectators to its fixtures and get its grounds in spot-on condition for 2012 and its next opportunity to host the Under-19 World Cup.
Meanwhile, an eye on the successful Logan Cup in Zimbabwe may indicate that the way forward in the longer game could be to set up a five-way provincial contest in East Africa, taking in Coast, Nairobi/Central, Rift Valley/West from Kenya, along with two Ugandan teams, Buganda (West of Nile) and Busoga (East of Nile).
This, with the possible later addition of a Tanzanian side, might prove to be the way ahead for boosting the four-day game, on which the concept of the Intercontinental Cup and Intercontinental Shield is built, throughout the region.
Could it be that in future there will not just be a Chairman's XI v Patron's XI fixture in the late season, but a Logan Cup XI v an 'Elgon' Cup XI too? Colin McBeth
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa