The end in sight for old guard

Fresh elections herald a new dawn for Kenya

Martin Williamson

April 3, 2005

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Sharad Ghai: on the way out © Cricinfo
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The deeply divisive dispute which at times has threatened the future of cricket in Kenya is almost over after lengthy meetings over the weekend ended in an agreement to implement a new constitution and hold fresh elections on May 21.

The deal was thrashed out by Peter Chingoka, the Zimbabwe Cricket Union chairman, and Percy Sonn, the ICC's vice-president, who had been sent to Kenya as part of an Africa Cricket Association delegation. The pair arrived on Friday and from the off made it clear that this was the last chance for Kenyan cricket.

At 8.30am on Saturday they sat down with representatives from the Kenya Cricket Association and Cricket Kenya, the new government-backed body, and 18 hours later finally reached a deal.

Sharad Ghai and the remainder of the KCA executive had, so it is reported, continued in their bid to retain control, but Chingoka and Sonn were adamant that things had to change. The turning point came when two regions which had backed Ghai's regime - Nairobi and Central - switched sides, leaving the KCA executive in an untenable position.

"We can now walk away with dignity," said Ghai. "We only wanted to be heard. If the stakeholders do not want you, you leave. This is not a private business." While the sentiments will be welcomed by almost all of Kenyan cricket, the words themselves will cause more than a few wry smiles. Dignity was surrendered a long time ago, and the stakeholders have not wanted the existing board for some time.

The elections will be for a 20-man council. The Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association, which has now merged with the KCA's Nairobi district, will have eight representatives; Coast will have six, and Central and Rift three each.

The timetable for change is as follows:-

April 11 A group, made up of three representatives from the KCA and three from Cricket Kenya will deliver the draft for a new constitution to Sonn.

April 13 Sonn replies with any amendments.

April 15 Amended agreement for the fresh constitution agreed by executive.

April 16 Notices sent out for a Special General Meeting, to be held on May 7, to approve the new constitution, and also for elections to be held on May 21.

It is reported that none of the existing KCA executive intend to fight the new elections.

Meanwhile, the ACA will remain in Nairobi and carry out investigations as to what has happened to the monies given to the KCA by the ICC.

One of the people present at the weekend's meeting praised the role of Sonn and Chingoka, saying that they had dealt with an extremely complex situation sensibly and firmly.

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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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