Barry Silah @obel_barry
It has been nothing short of an eventful year in Kenyan cricket; both on and off the pitch quite literally. From courtroom drama to national team lukewarm performances, it all seemed a full plate. There were few good moments, but largely the game locally suffered a massive image crisis.
The twin factors of leadership and management hogged the headlines instead of the development of the game and exposure of the players, as common sense would otherwise dictate. It started with the Under 19 national team participating in the World Cup held in New Zealand in January.
Deemed as a good platform to market the youngsters, it all fell apart when Jimmy Kamande’s lads suffered stage fright losing all their group stage matches in devastating fashion. Apart from this snapping off confidence from the young lads, it also painted a very poor picture of overall team preparedness by the parent body; Cricket Kenya (CK).
In February, the real drama was witnessed following the main men’s team being relegated to ICC Division Three status following a dismal show in the Namibian World Cricket League showpiece towards the end of 2017.
That occasioned movements at CK that literally shook the local sport to its core. Blame games took effect and this forced the then CK Chairperson Jackie Janmohammed, Coach Thomas Odoyo and team captain Rakep Patel to resign in a huff.
This was the beginning of chaos and an unwanted lull in the game, which left many fans, and followers of the sport not only concerned but also disappointed at the harsh turn of events. Indeed, the International Cricket Council (ICC), which once held Kenya in high esteem, started paying notice while analysing the situation from afar.
As soon as the new Cabinet Secretary of Sports Rashid Echesa was sworn in, amongst his first points of call was cricket.
This was the beginning of new mayhem; as accusations rung the air of him taking sides. The crux of the matter was that some ex international-players had assembled and jotted down a memorandum demanding for the dissolution of the CK citing financial misappropriation, lack of quorum to run administrative operations and failure to comply with the Sports Act 2010 on matters elections.
Former players led by the likes of Edward Odumbe, David Obuya and Tariq Iqbal supposedly bought favour with the CS and in mid-March, he dissolved CK and ordered for elections in 90 days while an Interim Committee acted as caretakers amidst the politics.
Between April and October, factions regrouped and order was thrown out of the window as local cricket was staring at an abyss.
One group allied to CK led by Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) chairman Tom Tikolo sued the CS for interference while the other stuck to its guns over being in charge of running the sport. Sobriety lost meaning as legal circuses were witnessed back and forth shunting between the Sports Disputes Tribunal and the High Court.
Players got sucked in the melee and threatened to quit the national team as the game was being dragged through the mud. However, these happenings also occasioned another nightmare as the association’s accounts were frozen, thus crippling the operations of the sport badly. Officials and other employees ran for months on end minus pay as both protagonists played hardball.