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‘Cry the beloved Kenya Cricket game’: Down and almost out, but not giving up

Africa pre-Qualifier

2019 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier:

(5-12 May 2019 – Harare, Zimbabwe)

Winners: Zimbabwe; runners-up: Namibia

Kenya Results

Group ‘B’:

Namibia 117/6 (20 0vers) beat Kenya 78 (20 overs) by 39 runs

Kenya 170/4 (20 overs) bt Sierra Leone 64/7 (20 overs) by 106 runs

Uganda 100/5 (20 overs) bt Kenya 96/7 (20 0vers) by 4 runs

Competing teams:

Group ‘A’: 1 Zimbabwe, 2 Tanzania, 3 Rwanda, 4 Nigeria, 5 Mozambique

Group ‘B’:1 Namibia, 2 Uganda, 3 Kenya, 4 Sierra Leone

(Winners Zimbabwe to represent Africa at the 2020 Women’s  Cricket World Cup Qualifier)

ANOTHER Kenya cricket team has just performed dismally. The women’s side would not get even a sniff of the 2020 Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier; winning only one match in the Africa zone pre-qualifier held in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Kenya’s only win was over minnows Sierra Leone and defeats by Uganda and Namibia went as per a now familiar trend. The atrocious Kenyan game in all categories is the common story in the last nearly 20 years now; the hey days when their men’s senior team reached the semi-finals of Cricket World Cup and competed with the world’s best in ODIs (One Day Internationals) long gone.

Top and above: Bowling and batting exercises at Nairobi Gymkhana during the Gary Kirsten Cricket high performance training camp

Top, above and below: Bowling and batting exercises at Nairobi Gymkhana during the recent Gary Kirsten Cricket (GKC) high performance training camp

It is all quite baffling that top managers of the game in the country are completely unable to guide the sport back in the right direction; to do justice to young players who, ironically, have not thrown in the towel deciding that not all is totally lost.

Kenya is still one of the countries in the continent with enthusiastic youth to play the game and people willing to work with the youngsters. But on the international stage, the country’s governing body of the sport, Cricket Kenya (CK) is completely clueless on how to tap into the raw material and guide it into decent national teams.

Young internationals go through the paces at Nairobi Gymkhana

Young internationals go through the paces at Nairobi Gymkhana

Meanwhile, people with experience of the game; ex-international players, teachers, club members, etc. are still encouraging youngsters to play the game. One never knows, yonder in the horizon, a turn-around for Kenya cricket may just be a possibility.

At Nairobi Gymkhana, one of Kenya’s best cricket facilities — and where the Cricket World Cup matches took place in 2003 [Kenya v Sri Lanka, at Nairobi Gymkhana, 24 February 2003] – a high profile five-day cricket clinic took place. It grabbed the headline because of the involvement of Gary Kirsten, one of South Africa’s great cricket names and coach of India’s Cricket World Cup winning team in 2011.

And at the 'nets'

And at the ‘nets’

The High Performance Camp in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi was part of a launch of a partnership of [South African] Gary Kirsten Cricket (GKC) enterprise with Starfield Sports, a Kenyan academy involved in development and professionalising various sports with cricket as its flagship.

Jimmy Cook, one of the GKC coaches involved in the Nairobi camp said: “I was amazed by the unbridled passion and love for the game which I saw in this developing nation at the grassroots level.

“Both players and coaches exuded an enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge which was truly remarkable and the signs of a spark which could alight something special in the region.”

One ball to the batsman as coach keeps a close watch for perfection

Above: One ball to the batsman as coach keeps a close watch for perfection; Below:  Hair raffling bowling

It was certainly an incredible experience for the cricketers who attended the five-day day program, getting to work with the GKC High Performance coaching team. The cricketing system that Starfield have put in place has all the makings of a pipeline which if managed correctly will reap great rewards in years to come.

The key words, of course are “if managed properly”; in a country where subsequent cricket administrations,  since the bygone good-old-days,  have plainly wasted opportunities through wrong attitudes, dark inter-personal fights, managerial incompetence  or plain laziness.

The CK administration completely lack any emphasis and investment in the game in way of commercialization, direction, hiring of competent coaches. There only exists an illusion that one day, Kenya cricket will wake up to better days.

Catching and fielding

Catching and fielding

Garreth Von Hoesslin, Director of Coaching from Gary Kirsten Garreth Von Hoesslin, Director of Coaching at Gary Kirsten Cricket demonstrates wicketkeeping drills in the Coach Education Session at Nairobi Gymkhana

Garreth Von Hoesslin, Director of Coaching from Gary Kirsten Cricket demonstrates wicketkeeping drills in the coach education session at Nairobi Gymkhana

For those who have not given up, inviting GKC is one of the correctives for Kenya cricket. Prior to the Camp, the GKC conducted a Coach Education workshop for 25 coaches who are involved in the set-up for Kenyan cricket and Starfield Sports. These two days were enlightening and covered a range of topics from player management to practical competencies for a coach as well as the relevant fundamentals of the technical aspects of the game.

Above: Roy Cook, on the sidelines of the coaching camp at Nairobi Gymkhana, gives a television interview [wrong name caption]. Below: Garreth von Hoesslin

Above: Jimmy Cook, on the sidelines of the coaching camp at Nairobi Gymkhana, gives a television interview. Below: Garreth von Hoesslin (wrong TV caption)

Having received their accreditations, these Kenyan coaches will no doubt be more confident and competent to continue to improve themselves and the players that they work with at all levels of the game.

Coach was to refer to famous coach, John Wooden, famously quoted for saying: “No written word, nor spoken plea, can teach our youth what they should be. Nor all the books on all the shelves, it’s what the teachers are themselves” and no saying is more fitting for a GKC coaching team that left their mark on this African region with energy and expertise which will last for years to come in the hearts and minds of the players and coaches.

The mass pep talk at Nairobi Gymkhana

The mass pep talk at Nairobi Gymkhana

Kenya also made its impression on the GKC coaches who left with a fulfillment of a hard week of work and some impressive sock tans and croaky voices as a reminder… and isn’t this really what it is all about!

Kenya’s leading sports development company Star Field Sports formed the strategic partnership with GKC to spearhead the development of cricket in the East African region through a series of high profile sports events: High Performance Coaching Camps, Coach Education Courses and private academies.

The game in the region hopes to tap into the morale-boosting effect of the name of Gary Kirsten the iconic South African cricket legend, and India’s World Cup winning coach in 2011. He played 101 Test matches and 185 One Day Internationals for South Africa between 1993 and 2004, mainly as an opening batsman.

In his cricket business, Kirsten’s vision is to develop an internationally renowned cricket services business to develop the game and help spread his coaching legacy globally. His state-of-the-art facility in Centurion, Gauteng Province provides coaching for cricketers from around the world.

Speaking at the conclusion of the negotiations, Director of Star Field Sports, Karan Kaul said “We believe this partnership will double down on the strengths of each organization – Gary Kirsten Cricket’s expertise, experience and reputation combined with Star Field’s market knowledge, work ethic and drive is a perfect fit to take over the East African market and develop the game of Cricket.”

The GKC instructors, Star Field managers, Kenya's senior coaches and the game's managers during the camp at Nairobi Gymkhana

The GKC instructors, Star Field managers, Kenya’s senior coaches and the game’s officials during the camp at Nairobi Gymkhana

Star Field has in the past, organized highly successful Youth Cricket Tournaments that attract players from East Africa, India and South Africa – the most recent of which was the Hayer One Starfield Youth League in August 2018.

-Additional reporting by Christelle Rautenbach and crossover.co.ke

 

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