More delays will cost Kenya

Sweeping things under the carpet

Kenya's cricket community - with the exception of the few remaining Kenyan Cricket Association board members - have reacted with surprise and disappointment at the announcement from the ICC that Percy Sonn and the Africa Cricket Association have

Martin Williamson

March 19, 2005

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Percy Sonn: hard to see what new he can unearth © Getty Images
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Kenya's cricket community - with the exception of the few remaining Kenyan Cricket Association board members - have reacted with surprise and disappointment at the announcement from the ICC that Percy Sonn and the Africa Cricket Association have been appointed to investigate the problems blighting cricket in the country.

The ICC executive announced on Friday that it had asked Sonn and the ACA to "speak with the parties involved in the current dispute to see if a resolution to the current impasse is possible."

The ICC has been made fully aware on a many occasions of what the problems are and the extent of them. It knows that almost all the game's stakeholders - clubs, players, sponsors - want the KCA kicked out. It also knows that the government (and this has been raised more than once at cabinet level) is vehemently opposed to the KCA, and Ochilo Ayacko, the sports minister, has repeatedly criticised major irregularities in the operations of the KCA.

Only last week, Ayacko travelled to Lord's to meet with Malcolm Speed and Ehsan Mani, the ICC's chief executive and president, and made it quite clear what was happening.

What is most bewildering is the ICC's appointment of Sonn and the ACA to find a resolution. While to outsiders that might appear to be a sensible move, there are two issues. One, why didn't it do that months, if not years, ago when the trouble started. Two, the ICC are fully aware that Jimmy Rayani, the former KCA chairman and ICC executive board member, has been trying to do deals to end the crisis in recent weeks. But these involve keeping some of the old guard involved, and that is not even remotely likely. The solution is to dump the KCA. For reasons which are unclear, this is deemed too difficult.

One senior stakeholder told Cricinfo that "this is a cop-out of the worst kind." He continued: "There is absolutely no condemnation of the way KCA has handled its affairs or any mention of the fact that it no longer represents anyone or a anything to do with Kenyan cricket. "It has ducked the issue and contrived to deal with it by allowing the situation to drag on and deteriorate further. The interests that are protected by this exercise are exactly the same interests that have created the problem in the first place."

It is hard to see what Sonn and his investigation can unearth that the ICC, and also its own Anti Corruption Unit, does not know already. On the one hand it is asking for an independent report, and yet in private its senior officials have advised the minister to kick each and every one of the old guard into touch.

That the KCA survives is only down to its ability to use the Kenyan judicial system to its full advantage and the ICC's own ponderously slow procedures for recognising any new bodies within countries when the old ones refuse to stand down.

The executive also decided to give the KCA the $54,000 Kenya is entitled to as an affiliate member. Given that it would be impossible to argue that the KCA in any way represents Kenyan cricket, that concession is bewildering and the IVV has a duty to ask how every dollar is spent. All the handout will do is able the KCA to clear substantial debts it has accrued. It currently has no contracted players, no coaching staff, and it is believed that most if not all administration staff have been laid off. As recently as earlier this month a private club had to take on running an Under-15 and Under-17 tournament against Holland as the KCA had no money to do so.

The final blow came at the bottom of the ICC's press release - that it was recommending that ODI-member status be removed and that, consequently, Kenya (the only such member) revert to associate status. That neatly enables the ICC to shift Kenya further off the radar.

When Kenya was granted ODI-member status it was seen as an interim step on the route to it becoming the 11th Test-playing country. That is now a fading dream, but as long as Kenya remained in that limbo between the big boys and the minnows, its problems were guaranteed to keep nagging away at the ICC. By demoting Kenya to parity with Papua New Guinea, Germany and Nigeria, its affairs suddenly become far less of an embarrassment.

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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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