July 11, 2010

Kenya

Kenya stare into the abyss

Martin Williamson
Kenya celebrate a strike, Kenya v Scotland, ICC WCL Division 1, Rotterdam, July 7, 2010
 © International Cricket Council
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After their performances over the last week in the Netherlands, where they finished rock bottom, Kenya's players ought to slink back into Nairobi with their tails between their legs and beg Cricket Kenya to give them a contract. Instead, it is likely they will return home and arrogantly resume their demands for an even bigger share of a small pot.

Kenya were the only fully-professional team in the Netherlands. Actually, they were professional only in the sense they got paid. Their performances with both bat and ball were dismal and they finished the ICC World Cricket League exactly where they deserved to be.

There is a depressing and overwhelming feeling Kenyan cricket may have reached its zenith at the 2003 World Cup and the last few years have not been so much a period of transition as the start of a possibly terminal decline.

Public awareness of the game is low, few bother to watch even the bigger games, the club network is old and creaking, and the game only survives to any degree thanks to increasing ICC handouts and the hard work of a small group of passionate enthusiasts. The development network is not sufficient to produce the number of players to allow Kenya to compete with leading Associates, let alone the bigger fish.

Kenya can no longer afford the luxury of paying mediocre players - and make no mistake and despite their bellyaching, it pays them well - who consistently fail to perform. If contracts are to remain they have to be far more weighted to performance and not seniority.

The money Cricket Kenya pours into the abject first team would be far better spent on an aggressive grass-roots strategy and attracting top coaches to help boost the youth groups. What's there now is simply not working. If it continues to pay its first-team squad then it ought to make them play abroad to get as much experience as possible.

The selectors also need to grab the bull by the horns and cut the remaining ties with the past. An even younger bunch could not have done any worse than the team in the Netherlands. And too many of the old guard seem embroiled in the world where money matters more than results and performances.

Maurice Ouma, who was at the forefront of the player rebellion on the eve of the trip, should be sacked and dropped as soon as the side gets back. His form is not good enough to make him safe, and Cricket Kenya cannot allow someone who works against the national interest to captain the side.

A final thought. Last week Kenya alternated their opening pairs as they unsuccessfully tried to find a partnership that worked. Any yet nobody thought to get in touch with one proven opener, Seren Waters, the 20-year-old international who had been playing daily for Durham University, who had more experience of European conditions than almost anyone else in the side, who scored a hundred at Lord's days before the start of the tournament, and who was available. If only he had been asked.

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

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Posted by Kutub Gulamabbas on (July 14, 2010, 6:15 GMT)

I was proved wrong when I said this is the best youngest dedicated side to play in Div 1. Boys you need to sow first and than reap what you deserve. I am sure CK will get the hell out of you in demending in future.

I know you deserve the best, but first the best should come out from you.

I am very very very dissapointed with your performance.

Posted by Colin Macbeth on (July 13, 2010, 5:02 GMT)

What a good analysis of the deplorable Kenyan situation! In Uganda, meanwhile, I'm glad to say that we're going from strength to strength - even though we lack sponsors. There have been some splendid matches in the men's league and the first half of the season's programme has been completed; the women's league (with nearly 100 registered players) is remarkably vibrant as players fight - almost literally - for places in the U-19 regionals in September and the world cup pre-qualifiers in December. Here is the 25-strong women's squad: Kevin Apio Brenda, Kasifa Kayaga, Skovia Okello, Concy Aweko, Hellen Naudo, Flavia Laker, Gloria Adubu, Sharon Athoula, Ritah Nyangendo, Sharon Oroma, Sharifa Kutaaka, Lilian Aya, Betty Kalende, Anna Kisakye, Miriam Lumonya, Carol Namugenyi, Mackenzie Ayato, Christine Aryemo, Flavia Wanjana, Franklyn Najjumba, Justine Musibuka, Isabella Kabugho, Gertrude Namulondo, Mable Kunitwira, Lillian Aliyanza. Note these names; some of them will one day be stars!

Posted by Ben on (July 12, 2010, 9:29 GMT)

I've never understood why Kenya dont look into some of their overseas players such as Seren Waters, Ragheb Ag, Mohammed Sheik (who im almost certain plays first grade cricket in Adelaide) and tried bringing Tanmay Mishra back into the fold? Surely these players could boost the team.

In saying that, I do agree that it is indeed very sad to see such a fall from grace.

Posted by Anil Koshy on (July 11, 2010, 14:35 GMT)

ICC should step in to ensure that Kenya does not stop playing cricket altogether. Cricket should be developed as a global sport. Football world cup is played by 32 equally competitive sides, whereas in cricket we hardly find even 4-5 good teams outside test arena. Even there is a huge gap within test playing nations when it comes to good competition. ICC should do everything best possible to encourage teams like Ireland, Scotland, Holland, Afganistan, Nepal, Namibia, Uganda, Bermuda and Kenya.

Posted by John Boon on (July 11, 2010, 9:46 GMT)

Kenya's decline is a really sad state of affairs. Its hard to say it, but they look least likely of the 6 associate ODI nations to retain their status, the way things are going.

Posted by AssociateAffiliate on (July 11, 2010, 9:44 GMT)

It is indeed a sad state of affairs to see the condition Kenyan cricket finds itself in today. I remember watching the 2003 World Cup as a 13 year old, with a passing interest in cricket. I remember the great Kenyan performances as the underdogs upset the Test nations one by one. That tournament left them on the verge of Test cricket; 7 years on they are the verge of losing ODI status in 2013 if current performances are anything to go by.

Kenya has been replaced as the leading Associate by Ireland, who are arguably on the verge of Test cricket themselves (should the Asian mob allow). The ICC and Cricket Ireland will hopefully see the mistakes made with Kenya and make sure they are not repeated.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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