Players face bans if they take part in Cricket Wars
Players who take part in the unofficial Cricket Wars tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Nairobi over three days starting on Friday (February 15), face a lengthy ban from the game after Cricket Kenya confirmed its decision not to give its approval to the event.
Reports in the local media suggested that the Ministry of Youth and Sports had brokered a deal after calling a meeting between organisers and CK but this was denied by a board spokesman who said there remained questions as to the finances behind the venture and CK unanimously voted not to give its approval. This stance has been backed by all the country's provincial boards.
As a consequence of this, no overseas players, past or present, will be permitted to participate. If they do then the ICC has made clear that they will be in contravention of its own regulations and are likely to face hefty sanctions including bans of at least one year. The same applies to all local players and officials.
High-profile names such as Andrew Symonds, Damien Martyn, Ian Harvey and Chris Cairns are believed to have obtained NOCs, which allow them to play overseas, from their own boards but it is not clear if those boards or individuals were aware the tournament had not been sanction by CK. ESPNcricinfo understands the ICC is writing to all boards to advise them that Cricket Wars is an unapproved event, something that seems likely to lead to the withdrawal of the NOCs.
Although the organisers have said that Muttiah Muralitharan is one of the players taking part, ESPNcricinfo has learned that he received an invitation earlier in the month which he declined.
The Cricket Wars organisers, who include former KCA boss Sharad Ghai, claim that former players do not need any approval to play in such events but the ICC has confirmed this is not the case.
Local cricketers will make up the numbers, and even those who are paid are unlikely to earn more than $50, but will also face sanctions if they take part. While for club cricketers these punishments are unlikely to be serious, centrally-contracted national players face fines and/or suspensions. The Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association has made clear that the priority for local players is to participate in this weekend's knock-out tournament.
It is also possible the Nairobi Gymkhana club, which is hosting the competition, will face punishment if it goes ahead. CK is understood to have written to club officials last month to raise concerns that they should not stage a non-approved event but that was met with a response that as a private club what games they ran was of no concern to the national board. However, the board has it within its power to withhold grants and not stage official matches there.
Concerns have also been expressed at the details of the money likely to be paid over from the event to a local charity. ESPNcricinfo has learned that while it is being flagged proceeds would go to the Children's Village in Naivasha, in fact only an undisclosed percentage of the gate money will be paid over.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa