Kenya T20 league bold move towards reviving dull cricket

From left: Chairman Cricket Kenya Manoj Patel, Deputy Commissioner of Sports Jaxon Indakwa, Kalpesh Solamu of Cricket Kenya and Absolute Sports Agency PVT Chairman Jagroop Singh. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

What happened to Kenyan cricket?

That is one question those who write about cricket get asked more so when there is an international tournament and Kenya is not participating.

It is never easy to answer. It is a long story that did not even start in 2003 when Kenya reached the semis of the International Cricket Council World Cup.

On Sunday, at a cricket event at Nairobi Gymkhana, the venue of Kenya's famous win against Sri Lanka in the 2003 ICC World Cup, that question was being asked again.

It was at the unveiling of the Kenya T20 Premier League which will be played next year. The sponsors, Absolute Sports Agency Pvt Limited of India, and Cricket Kenya said that is a step towards rebuilding of Kenyan cricket.

It was revealed that the CK chair, Manoj Patel and the chair of Absolute Sports, Jagroop Singh Gill, had signed an agreement in August for the latter to sponsor the Kenya T20 Premier League to be played in February 2023 at the Nairobi Gymkhana.

This move by CK may not answer the question that everyone asks, but it will help people understand that Kenyan cricket has been on the backfoot for a long time, and rebuilding it will take a lot of time.

Coach Cricket team Kenya Thomas Odoyo will be playing against Hongkong. Nov 17, 2016. [PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

It will also require less talk and more action, considering that Kenyan cricketing fraternity and sorority are big on bickering, and that is what Manoj, who was elected the CK chair in February, will have to deal with.

If Manoj finds a way of working towards reviving cricket and making fans go back to the grounds, cricket will be the winner. If he joins the legion of those who keep bickering, then the question about what happened to Kenyan cricket will always be asked.

The bickering is fueled mostly by people who still want to live in the past without realising that there are several factors at play, locally and globally, and when there is no change of mindset, there will be no growth.

The Kenya T20 Premier League might just be one of those things Kenya needs to get in to sphere of cricket in modern times.

"Cricket Kenya looks forward to a meaning change for the better of Kenyan cricket with this turn of events," Manoj said, while thanking Absolute Sports for taking the bold step to work with CK at a time when other institutions that could help have got cold feet.

The Kenya T20 Premier League will involve six teams made up of local and international players, with the former being the majority.

"We are laying a platform for the players to rise and showcase their talent and potential to the world," Gill, the chair of Absolute Sports said.

"The 33 matches will be broadcast worldwide on different platforms and the intention is that the league will be played annually."

The CK Board, which has incorporated former players Thomas Odoyo, Tariq Iqbal and Beryl Oyugi in to its ranks, will get a minimum Sh5 million for its much-needed development programmes to nurture more young talent.

"Kenya has immense talent that can be nurtured to rise again and the CK Board is will to set the ball rolling for the betterment of the game," Manoj said.

Easier said than done, but launching Kenya T20 Premier League is so far the biggest step towards reviving the game.

Focus turns to Kenya Cup relegation dogfight
Tokyo Marathon: Kipchoge faces biggest test
Kenya's race against time in readiness for 2027 Afcon
Gor, Rangers battle in top-of-the-table clash