Promising news from Kenya, Tanzania and Nambia all present that cricket in Africa is not only waking up from its enforced hibernation due to the pandemic but aiming to develop and thrive.
Kenyan cricket is currently facing a turbulent time due to an on-going legal battle, however, despite this the Simba Premier League has been a fantastic addition to the countries domestic structure. Despite the initially disappointing news that the tournament needed to be postponed, due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, there is hope that the league will be able to start in the not too distant future. The Kenyan sports minister, Amina Mohamed, announced that all outdoor and non-contact sporting activities were able to restart after a six-month break. The lifting of restrictions means that sports such as athletics, cricket and golf are all able to restart, but sports including football, boxing, judo, karate and water sports are still unable to start. As stated by Mohamed, quoted by GCTN, ‘The guidelines we have released today are subject to be reviewed according to the global situation of Covid-19’ with the politician also adding that individual testing will not be required. Under the new guidelines, Cricket Kenya or private tournament organisers will be responsible to pay for any COVID-19 testing that is required. The possibility that cricket will be restarting will come as great news to many cricketing fans in Kenya and Uganda. Many Ugandan players, including Zephaniah Arinaitwe, are set to be in action during the Simba Premier League along with plenty of Kenyan internationals, so the tournament promises to be a high standard so it is hoped that action will be able to commence soon.
The Tanzanian U-19 team are also restarting training in preparation for the rearranged ICC Africa U-19 Division 2 tournament. The tournament was initially set to begin July, however, was postponed due to the effects of COVID-19, and is now set to be played in January of 2021. The countries finest U-19 talent are undergoing preparations at Annadil Burhani oval in Dar es Salaam. National team coach Steve Tikolo, who is also the head coach of the U19 team, has said that he is happy with the teams preparations Tikolo, who was quoted by IPP Media, appears confident that the team will improve and be ready for the start of the tournament with the coach paying specific attention to the countries batting. Tanzania’s batting has been an area of weakness of the Tanzania side for an extending period of time according to Tikolo, stating that ‘We are trying to improve all departments of the game, batting, bowling and fielding, but so much work is put into batting … the team did not perform well in the (batting) department in the past’. Members of the U19 squad prior to the start of specific tournament preparation had been competing in the Dar es Salaam development league which can only be positive for their development. Tikolo gave a special mention to Abdullah Jabir who has scored 146 runs in the competition and the young batsman makes strides in his development.
Namibia has been in a period of exciting transition following many positive announcements being made by Cricket Namibia. One of the changes made was the appointment of Francois van der Merwe as the new women’s coach, replacing Leonard Nhamburo as women’s team trainer. Nhamburo recent spoke about his experience within the Namibian setup. The coach reflected, to The Southern Times Sport, that he felt ‘it was quite an experience, why? Because being a foreign coach, coaching a team that is not your home nation … So it was a big challenge but I managed to push through as you’ve seen from the results of the qualifiers. Before I came in, Namibia had not managed to perform well in the qualifiers. When I joined them, they performed beyond expectations and that was the best performance for their women’s team ever …They managed to beat Kenya and Uganda for the first time. Prior to the start of the tournament, Uganda was regarded as one of the favourites … and to beat such a team that was ranked above them, it was quite an achievement. It is something I will cherish … To achieve such a feat as a coach was a proud moment for me and I was happy that I was able to showcase what I have to offer. This was my first time to coach a team outside of Zimbabwe’.
Nhamburo believes that Namibia are going ‘in the right direction as a cricketing nation. If you look at how they have been investing in their cricket over the years, it’s clear that it is now been paying off, they are winning matches’ and this is hard to disagree with. Not only has the country’s governing body released progressive projects aimed at growing the game and updated their domestic set up, the opportunities that the Namibian team to show their talent on the world’s biggest stages are increasing. 2021 will see the Namibian men’s team compete at the T20 World Cup in India which promises to be an exciting competition and Namibia will not be an easy team to beat with the team possessing a number of world class talents.
Most of the Namibia men’s squad are in action as cricket return to Windhoek in the form as a sixes event hosted at CCD, although it will be missing key club Wanderers, as reported by The Namibian. A schools tournament will also be held over this weekend.
And finally, the acting skills of Gerhard Erasmus and his men’s team were taken advantage of as Cricket Namibia and beer sponsor Castle Light collaborated to produce a public service announcement in a well-known local bar to promote social distancing:
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