Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Jackie JanMohammed, can Kenyan Cricket be re-born?

Congratulations Mrs. Jackie Janmohammed for scoring a first on many counts in the muddled waters of Kenyan sport! It's another milestone for women in this part of the world and also for those in the cricket game. Enough with the pleasantries!

Jackie Janmohammed - image courtesy of AFP

The hardwork starts now. Former Cricket Kenya CEO Samir Inamdar waxed lyrical of leaving the sports association with the whole bag of monies and 'structures'. But his legacy is best underscored by the dismal performances that the Kenyan national team and loss of supremacy among other non-Test nations that were close to the Test playing status.

Another piece of baggage you might have to deal with is the chasm created between the various branches which led to two of the main branches boycotting the elections. This one is not your undoing but the earlier you win them into your fold the better it will be for the game.

There is also another disturbing observation and related to the point of the various branches. Among the top officials, there is not a single representative of the two branches. There is also no representation of what would be called 'indigenous' representation. A cursory look at officials elected in Sunday's elections, none come outside of the Asian/Muslim communities. Part of the causes of the schisms  in the previous office was because of this 'race' issue. It is an unspoken evil but one which continues to haunt the game. The psyche in some of the teams and to some extent in the national team does reflect in their performances. Mrs. Jackie, you will need all the lawyering expertise to sail through these murky waters. It's never a cup of tea but it's the reality on the field.

Some goodwill inherited from the old order is the media rights that were secured with SuperSport to screen some of the East African cricket games. That is another channel you might want to approach for both the local league and national games. TV has been known to transform many a sport and cricket will be no different. Work your magic with the corporates and that balance sheet that Inamdar & Co left will look like a mockery of what revenues and sponsorship you may attract.

Appointing a worthy CEO, another brief waiting for your delivery. The previous CEO Tom Sears left in a huff claiming to have been under security threats among a host of other issues. It will be important that the next CEO comes from a rigorous and all-inclusive process. His/her brief should be delivery the game back to its glory days and ensuring a vibrant national league as well as the reaffirming Kenya's supremacy among non-Test playing nations. There is also the national coach issue. You might want to start that on a clean slate or is it a fresh pair of hands?

The issue of development of talent from the lower rungs and to provide players for both club and country is something else to look into. You might need to borrow a few notes from Mr. Janmohammed who was part of the development team in the early 2000s when the rain starting beating Kenyan cricket hard. You should also involve some of the former and senior players in these development plans. That a player like Maurice Odumbe is still able to put together a tidy number of runs as well as run the field like the days of yore before he was demonised is something to you can use to inspire the younger lads. Kenyan sport has never been known to pay tribute to its former stars but you can change the tide with that in cricket.

Do not sit in the beautiful offices that host Cricket Kenya's office in Ruaraka but do a lot of legwork in the clubs in Ngara, Parklands, down in Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu. That way you will learn a little bit more than what those fancy reports may say on paper. You can have a word with some of the groundsmen on those fields. They may know a thing or two that will give you better insights into the game.

Lastly we have 2015 World Cup coming up and Kenya's participation is currently in dire straits as we lie 6th ICC World Cricket League championship, with 2 games to play. The two top teams of this League will automatically qualify for the Cricket World Cup.But this is almost in vain though there is one last reprieve of the qualifying tournament in 2014. If Kenya can finish in a respectable position in his League and get its act together by 2014, we should be the suprise package once again in the 2015 hoping to repeat the heroics of the 1996 and 2003 national teams.

Mrs. Jackie it's your call, score a century or get bowled out!  

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