Kenya August 29, 2011

Kenya's cricketers on the road to nowhere

Colin MacBeth

Colin MacBeth

The idiocy of some Kenyan cricketers knows no bounds. Having driven brinkmanship to a new dimension when they refused to toe the line and sign contracts, they crawled back to Cricket Kenya (CK) caps in hand seeking preferment; and when offered a deal they could easily have accepted, spat it back in the face of those offering it. This, they said, was an act of solidarity with certain 'spent' players who are past their sell-by date and could no longer be considered for contracts.

More significantly, the players' action – and the consequent sacking of several, especially from Kongonis (Nairobi Club) and Rift Valley Rhinos (Rift Valley Sports Club), who refused to play ball with CK, is devoid of reason and could seriously jeopardise the ongoing 'Elite' Premier and EA Cup competitions.

The cry will go up: “This isn't cricket”; but indeed it is, and increasingly so these days. The commercialisation of the sport has become very much part of the fabric, with salaries and conditions taking priority over sporting achievement. And none is suffering more than Nairobi Buffaloes' (NPCA) captain Collins Obuya, who,played for Uganda's Tornados last year and was the only player who came back from his country's disastrous 2011 World Cup campaign in India and Bangladesh with his reputation intact and his head held high; and is now reportedly in receipt of death threats because of his willingness to side with CK's strategy to improve the game.

A belligerent CK chairman Sameer Inamdar said at the weekend in his usual no-nonsense way: “The players mustn't be allowed to get away with blackmail. We've bent over backwards to accommodate them in the wake of some really appalling performances. And they think we should just say 'okay' and lap the mediocrity up. Well, we're not doing so anymore, and some of the players have surely scripted their own obituaries.”

The players themselves remain somewhat bemused and unsure which way to turn. But without doubt it's the end of the road for some; and any depletion of the new elite EAPL and EA Cup's reputation as the driving force behind a resurgence in Kenya cricket would be disastrous, both for them and for cricket in Uganda, and would have to be laid at their door.