Kenya news June 22, 2010

Minister brokers deal with striking Kenyans

Kenya will send a full-strength side to the ICC World Cricket League Division One tournament in the Netherlands after the country's ministry of sports intervened to end a stand-off between players and board.

The players refused to travel to England last Friday to honour a commitment to play warm-up matches ahead of the competition, and were trying to force Cricket Kenya to back down and agree to revised terms regarding central contracts as well as the removal of the head of selectors.

On Monday, the ICC gave CK 24 hours to either agree to send a side to the Netherlands or risk expulsion from the event, a suspension of its grants, and severe fines. The ICC warned that "if it fails to deliver on its obligations … [it] may be in breach of its obligations to its commercial partners" and that would mean its funding would be suspended and there would be additional penalties levied. "It goes without saying that they will have a far reaching impact on cricket in Kenya," the ICC continued.

Were that to have happened then it would have meant CK would not have been able to afford any central contracts, leaving those same players who are demanding more money and a say in selection without a job.

CK had looked at the fall-back of sending a second-string side but that would not have been possible because of visa complications.

Ministry of sports representatives met with the players last night and senior CK officials today and are believed to have told the players any contractual issues should be addressed after they had honoured their international commitments.

Maurice Ouma will lead the side in the tournament but his position as captain is in doubt as the players' actions last week have left CK around £50,000 out of pocket.

He claimed to the local media that the lowest-paid Kenyan cricketer was earning around US$4 a day. However, Cricinfo has seen documentation which shows the lowest centrally-contracted player earned around $700 a month in 2009. The lower figure quoted by Ouma was for casual non-contracted cricketers who turn up for nets and other events on a day-by-day basis.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa