Kenyan cricket June 22, 2010

'A bunch of mutinous fools'

Martin Williamson on how Kenya's cricketers were prepared to risk the future of the game for some short-term and minor gains
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In the sports pages of The Nation today there is a headline referring to "a bunch of mutinous fools". It refers to the French football team at the World Cup, but you might be mistaken for thinking it was a comment on Kenya's cricket side.

The banging of heads which occurred at the ministry of sports this morning means the team will travel to the Netherlands to play in the World Cricket League, although what state of mind they will be in is another matter.

The net result is that common sense prevails and the minister has in effect completely backed the board. By ambushing Cricket Kenya four days before the aborted trip to England was due to start, the players, via their dubious quartet of representatives, hoped to force the board to back down and accede to their demands.

It was old-fashioned opportunism of the worst kind. For a few dollars more (as reported before, the contracted players earn far more than most of their fellow countrymen) and some muscle flexing over selection, they were prepared to risk the future of Kenyan cricket. The ICC is not given to bluffing. Had the strikers stood their ground and refused to go then the financial repercussions would have been crippling.

As it is, where do the players think the estimated £50,000 lost because of their stand last week will come from? The losers will be grass-roots and school cricket in Kenya, the people in most need of support and cash. I doubt that ever occurred to them as they congratulated themselves on the timing of their strike.

The players do need proper responsible representation but that is not necessarily what they got. They also need to start performing on the pitch. If they return from Europe with a strong showing under their belts then they will be in a stronger position to negotiate than if their patchy record of late continues.

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