Intercontinental Cup

Cup chaos despite Ghai's assurances

Martin Williamson

February 9, 2005

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Kenya's preparations for the Intercontinental Cup tie against Namibia at Windhoek are in chaos following the ICC's decision not to allow the match to be postponed. And while Sharad Ghai, the Kenyan Cricket Association chairman, maintained that the game would go ahead, the signs on the ground in Nairobi indicated that it could rapidly descend into farce.

The 31-man squad named a fortnight ago was trimmed to 17 within days when the 14 striking players refused to allow themselves to be included, insisting that their grievances with the KCA had not been resolved.

And despite assurances from Ghai that the rump of the squad has been training, sources on the ground say that is far from the case. Although Mudassar Nazir, the hastily-appointed replacement for Andy Moles as national coach, has been doing all he can to try to bring the players together, he has been facing almost insurmountable odds. Earlier in the week it emerged that the bulk of Kenya's coaches had been sent home as KCA funds ran out, leaving Mudassar fighting a lone battle.

Today, Ghai revealed that the two Mombasa-based players have not joined the rest of the squad, and one of them when questioned admitted that he had not been approached about training, adding he was unaware there was a game at the end of the month as he thought it had been postponed until April.

Ghai also told the Nation that he was attempting to contact Mohammed Sheikh, the former Under-19 captain who is thought to be in Australia and has not played in Kenya for almost four years. Cricinfo understands that he is playing grade cricket and as things stands has little interest in returning home at the moment.

The two UK-based players - Ragheb Aga, the allrounder who captained Kenya in their last outing, and wicketkeeper Abeed Janmohamed - would, Ghai insisted, join the squad a week before it left for Windhoek on February 22. The only problem with that is that Cricinfo believes neither has been officially notified of their selection and it is far from clear whether they would be able to travel - probably at their own expense - at such short notice.

Further confusion came when the latest squad was released to The Nation with some non-striking members of the original 31-man line-up omitted and a new one - Naqeeb Ali Mohammed - added.

"We will just go with what we have," Ghai said. "I'm sure the boys will go in with their heads high and make a fight of it."

As things stand at the moment, even getting them to the the airport in a fortnight's time would represent a major achievement.

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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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