MCC scraps high-profile visit

Kenya suffers as tours are called off

Martin Williamson

January 11, 2008

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A touring side in Mombasa © OCCC
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Cricinfo can reveal that the violence that followed the disputed presidential elections and which cost almost 500 people their lives has caused a number of cricket tours to Kenya to be scrapped.

The highest profile of them is the planned visit of the MCC. They were due to arrive on February 11 and stay for 10 days before moving on to Uganda, but a spokesman for the club told Cricinfo that following advice from the home office and the ICC's cricket development officer for the region, the decision had been made to reschedule the tour and spend all three weeks in Uganda.

"We will definitely return to Kenya but because of the natural cycle it will not be for at least two or three years," the spokesman said. MCC tours are arranged through the ICC and are part of a four-year revolving programme. The MCC has invited Kenya to send their Under-19 side to Uganda to play there.

Another casualty is the tour by the prestigious Arabs side who often boast first-class cricketers in their ranks. Hugo Loudon, who was to captain the side, told Cricinfo: "Having assessed the current situation in Kenya, we have decided that it is unfeasible to tour at the present time. Clearly everyone will have seen and heard about the horrific scenes that have taken place in the past two weeks, and whilst actions are being taken to remedy the situation, it is clearly still volatile and our safety cannot be guaranteed.

"Not only is our safety an issue but there is also the moral/political issue that would hang over our tour. In the aftermath of such a devastating time for the country there would be greater concerns for Kenyans than looking after us and entertaining us in the way they would if no such situation had occurred."

He added that the side was keen to tour when conditions were more favourable and that it was hoped that the trip could be rearranged for October 2008 or February 2009.

David Waters, a senior figure inside Kenyan cricket, runs Sporting Safaris, a Nariobi-based firm which arranges dozens of sports tours to the country every year. "The damage done to the tourist industry by the images beamed to TVs worldwide is likely to be catastrophic and that in turn is likely to impact hugely on the economy," he said. "After our best year last year and more confirmed tours for this and next on the books it all evaporated in the space of 48 hours at the start of this week.

"We have to preserve a sense of optimism that things can be sorted out, and quickly, and that soon all will be back on track again because this is still an amazing country with so much to offer all who live or visit."

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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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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