Wednesday, 17 August 2011

East Africa's brilliant cricket Experiment

This world cup was a disaster for Kenya. From the highs of reaching the World Cup semi finals in 2003 to losing all matches "Badly" in the 2011 world cup was a real shake up. Over that came the news that team had many internal divisions. The World Cup in 2011 could simply be called a disaster for Kenya.

The problems were many. Cricket in Kenya was limited to few elite clubs in Nairobi and may be to some extent in the Rift Valley. The extent of Elitism was that Kenyan National team had no national ground it could practice on. They had to rent it from the Gymkhana Club. The game never actually reached the common man and this made an issue of a limited pool. This lead to Kenya being dependent on same set of players who started demanding salaries beyond their capability levels. This lead to player strikes, group-ism and all sort of problem. This was a dangerous cycle

Then the head of Cricket Kenya as part of complete shake up of besides other measures has initiated a process which I hope will bring many positive results. Cricket Kenya immediately after the world cup announced a 6 team franchise league both for OD and T20 format. Initially criticized for 6 teams as too many was silenced when it was announced that 4 teams are from Kenya and rest 2 from Uganda. This meant that the pool of players will be playing highly competitive domestic cricket besides the very few matches they get as international exposure. 6 teams across 2 countries meant that the pool of players is also optimally utilized.

The best thing of the league is that it involves 2 countries. This means that cricket Kenya have a better proposition to take in front of the Sponsors. This also means that this will bring in much wider interest in the league. It is also a replication of a similar successful effort in Rugby in which teams from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania play in one league. This also means that a chance to bring in more foreign players and more exposure.The results have been encouraging. Super Sport has agreed to telecast the final live besides providing regular updates for matches. One of the team already has a sponsor and hopefully many will follow

Over time I feel that this league should be extended beyond these 2 countries. Tanzania, Rwanda should be definitely added. If possible then Burundi and Zambia should also be added. Lets us give this league 2 years to stabilize and after that the final composition may look like Kenya- 4 teams, Uganda- 3 Teams, Tanzania 2 Teams, Rwanda, Zambia and Burundi:- 1 team each. If resources allow then Home and Away for all 12 teams else 2 pools of 6 is the next best option.

Again if successful similar experiments should be replicated in Ire+Scot, Neth+Belg+France, USA+Canada, UAE+Oman, Malaysia+Singapore and many more places. Lets hope this series comes out as a huge success and can be replicated around.

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