In the wake of the National team’s poor performance at the ICC World Twenty20 qualifying tournament in Dubai Cricket Kenya has re-affirmed its commitment to improving standards at all levels of the game in the country.
The National side failed to reach to play offs in the qualifying tournament and did not register a win against any team that is part of the ICC’s High Performance Programme. The governing body shares the disappointment of all Kenya cricket supporters but is making progress at all levels of the sport to ensure that performance at all levels improves. An extensive review was conducted after the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011 in consultation with the ICC and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and a comprehensive strategy implemented from the grass roots through to the National teams to ensure results improve.
The scope and nature of the changes that were required and are being implemented will require time to produce sustainable improvements but the structure being established will ensure more Kenyans have the opportunity to play and compete and those with ability will have a competition structure and player pathway to ensure they can fulfil their potential, this will ultimately lead to stronger performances on the World stage.
Key areas being addressed include:
· The provision of astro turf playing wickets in schools across the country to create the opportunities for Kenyan children to play, 12 fully funded pitches have been or in the process of being installed and more are planned
· More full time development coaches than ever before are employed by Cricket Kenya and more are being recruited
· A comprehensive education programme training coaches umpires, scorers and administrators is in place countrywide
· More schools than ever, primary and secondary, receive regular visits from CK staff coaches and compete in scheduled competitions in both soft ball and hard ball cricket
· A National secondary schools competition for both boys and girls has been established allowing the most talented young players to compete in a pressurised environment from a young age to breed more skilful, knowledgeable and competition hardened players
· Eight Elite training squads of the best young players (boys and girls), four primary and four secondary, are being selected in the provincial associations to receive top class coaching each week and compete in National competitions to identify the best young players and ensure they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and go on the represent Kenya at age group and ultimately full international level
· CK is looking to identify the very best young players to join a National Academy programme to fast track their progress and prepare them for senior competition
· The new East African Cricket Competitions (EACC) provide a step up from club cricket and a bridge to representative honours creating a more competitive level of cricket and will produce a better standard of player
· The EACC is the only Associate domestic competition anywhere in the World that is broadcast live on television. The agreement with Supersport sees the events beamed live all over Africa and creates enormous interest in the region’s cricket and commercial interest
· A new National Women’s League has been introduced and more investment than ever before is being directed at girls’ and womens’ cricket
· In 2011 Cricket Kenya more commercial investment into the game than ever before – this investment goes to support the development of the game at all levels
· An Emerging Players squad has been established to create more competition for places in the full National squad, this squad trains and competes regularly and has already played against a full international team and international opposition
· A fully professional National squad is retained on full time contracts with comprehensive support staff and training programme
· Cricket Kenya is in negotiations with the ICC and Full Member countries to provide more opportunities for our players to play at a higher level in international series and overseas domestic competitions
Chief Executive Tom Sears said: ‘We are fully aware that we are not at the level we would like to be yet but with all the steps we are taking and programmes we are implementing we are creating a sustainable structure that will produce more players and better players at all levels.
‘We share supporters’ frustration at results and are looking at ways we can address those with immediate effect but it is imperative we create an environment where Kenyans can play cricket, want to play cricket and have the support to ensure they become the best they can be.
‘Cricket Kenya has worked hard to attract commercial sponsorship and we are extremely grateful to our current partners for their generous support but we could always use more funding. Kenya is the country in the ICC High Performance Programme that does not receive substantial financial government funding, we don’t receive any at all where the levels of government money invested in cricket in the likes of Afghanistan, Ireland and others reach hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. We are not competing on a level playing field but we are doing everything we can with the resources we have.
‘It is also important to point out that every one of our 14-man squad at the World Twenty 20 qualifiers was raised in Kenya and had come through our development programme and club cricket here whereas most of the other countries’ squads contain four or five senior players that have been recruited from the likes of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other Full Member countries. We don’t feel this is the way to go and would rather invest in producing our own players who have a genuine affinity to Kenya.
‘We are investing heavily at all levels, more than ever before, and are confident that the measures we are taking will ensure Kenyan cricket will thrive and produce tangible results in the coming years and if maintained and enhanced will lead to a much brighter future for the game.’