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Cricket Kenya has announced new 20 and 50-over domestic competitions aimed at bolstering the standard of cricket in the country. The inclusion of two Ugandan sides in the six-team set-up will also provide a valuable boost to their up-and-coming neighbours.
The gulf between the NPCA league, Kenya's premier competition, and the national side has been a worry for a long time. In 2009 an attempt was made to establish a four-team elite event in both three-day and limited-over formats, but it foundered because of a lack of finance and poor support from players.
The latest initiative will feature four Kenyan sides - two from Nairobi, one each from Coast and Rift Valley - as well as two Ugandan teams. Each side will play ten games over weekends, with a Twenty20 match on a Saturday followed a day later by a 50-over contest. The leading four teams in each event would then progress to play-offs and a final.
Nationally contracted players will be split between sides to ensure a fair balance between the competitors, and Tom Sears, Cricket Kenya's chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo there were also plans to bring in overseas players from the subcontinent. "I believe by bringing in players from abroad we have the best chance of our players improving their game," he said.
Original plans had been for all six sides to come from within Kenya, but Sears admitted that "the level of competition was such that we could offer not enough strength in depth to provide strong enough cricket". He added that as Africa's leading Associate, it was Kenya's responsibility to help the progress of Uganda. "They have good players," he said. "That's why we opted to give them a chance to take part."
It was also revealed that a media deal had been agreed with Supersport for them to cover the semi-finals and finals of each competition.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
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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.