Kenya used to fly the flag high for the developing nations across world cricket; representing upcoming nations in one of the biggest stages, the World Cup semi-final. However, recently appearances at the mainstream competitions are a thing of the past.
Despite qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League it is fair to say that the results of the Kenyan team have drastically deteriorated. One of the potential factors contributing to the team losing its competitive edge is the ongoing legal issues that appear to have plagued the sport.
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During 2018, members of Cricket Kenya divided and formed opposing sides regarding the status of the constitution and whether the Association had failed to comply with the Sports Act 2013. In response to this, former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa called for there to be a full constitutional review. The decision for the constitutional review, ratified by the High Court in Kenya, gave Cricket Kenya 12 months starting from the 31 May 2019 to develop and present a new constitution.
But this date has now passed and there is still no agreed constitution. The group tasked with developing the new constitution was led by former international player Kennedy Obuya and Cricket Kenya’s Interim Vice-Chairman Harpal Singh. There were signs that there was a draft proposal in existence in April with the Association sending out the constitution on the 22nd of the month before recalling the document just hours after it was sent out. Later in the same month, once members were given a draft copy of the constitution, it was allegedly ‘torn apart’ by members of the Association, with Edward Tito Odumbe alleging that the Association did not follow due process and that some of the inserts in the draft had not been approved or ratified by the Committee.
However, while the attention that has been put towards the activities of the Association, it would appear that the actual game of cricket has been forgotten, if results on the field over the past five years are anything to go by. This lack of direction that appears to be hanging over Cricket Kenya means that there are no or limited development structures in place and this is a real shame.
Over the course of their cricketing history, Kenya has helped to develop and nurture some fantastic talents including Thomas Odoyo (above), Steve Tikolo, Maurice Odumbe and three generations of Karims, including current men’s captain Irfan. Cricketing talent can be said to exist right the way throughout Kenya and it is times like this when fans of Kenyan cricket must begin to ask what is more important, legal matters or sport.
Whilst it is not suggested that the legal structure and the transparency of any Association are able to look be overlooked; at its best, cricket is a sport for the people and one that can help spread friendship, enjoyment and positivity throughout a land. Currently, cricket’s chance to grow is already under pressure with reduced ICC funding for Associates and a mooted global event schedule for the next cycle which creates fewer chances for emerging teams to participate. In this environment, the need for unity the Association cannot be underestimated, with individuals putting their allegiances behind them to work together.
It may not be the players of today that will be the ones who suffer the most from the lack of parity, but instead, it will be the cricketers of tomorrow who struggle.
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Are there still fans/followers of cricket in Kenya?