Kenya in Europe 2008 July 15, 2008

Kenya deny accusations over Aga selection

Cricinfo staff

Ragheb Aga: as a county-contracted player there was not a need for him to return to Kenya © Getty Images
Cricket Kenya has angrily denied claims in the Daily Nation that it broke its own selection rules in picking former captain Ragheb Aga for their European tour.

The newspaper, which has been overtly critical of the new board ever since the old Kenyan Cricket Association was replaced in 2005, accused CEO Tom Tikolo of double standards. "The basis on which Aga was picked is only known to the selectors," Richard Mwangi wrote. "By picking Aga the selectors could have denied a deserving youngster who has been training with the rest of the boys an opportunity of being exposed to a high level, which does not augur well with the development programme."

The claims by the paper were dismissed by Tikolo as "wholly inaccurate and misinformed". He continued: "It reflects a misconceived notion that the Kenya national cricket team can only be picked from amongst those players who participate in its elite domestic leagues. This condition is meant for all players who ordinarily reside in the country during the season. There are several Kenyan players who play overseas and do not participate in local leagues and still feature in the national team - because they play in a country and for a team that participates in the top flight of cricket. The most recent examples of such players are the the Obuya brothers who played in Australia."

Aga is contracted to Sussex, and while CK rules insist that overseas players participate in local leagues and to return home to prepare for a fortnight before any matches or tours, Tikolo explained that exceptions had to be made as Aga has a professional and binding contract with the county.

"His record and performance speaks for itself, particularly so in the English press where he is reported as being in impressive form for his county," Tikolo explained. "He cannot participate in the Kenya domestic league because by doing so he would lose his county contract. After much persuasion, Sussex have agreed to release Ragheb so that he can play for Kenya in important matches without this prejudicing his contract."

Samir Inamdar, the board's chairmen, met with Sussex officials in Hove last week to obtain the necessary clearance, and Aga's inclusion has to be seen as a plus at a time many players from Associate countries are opting to miss national games and remain with their counties.

The Nation also attacked the board for its handling of Tanmay Mishra, who, it claimed, "was dropped from the side for failing to attend nets earlier in the year, although his form was not in doubt".

Mishra had in fact turned his back on Kenyan cricket to investigate furthering his education in India at the end of 2007, and was unable to commit to his game when pressed to do so by the national selectors earlier this year.