An interview with outgoing CK CEO Tom Sears
Cricket Kenya (CK) CEO Tom Sears leaves his post this week after almost two years at the helm of Kenya's governing body. The Englishman is heading off to Ireland and back to the sport which he calls his first love – rugby.
Sears will take over from Gerry Kelly as CEO of Connacht Rugby in the Emerald Isle. I met up with him before he jetted back north and asked him about his time in Kenya:
Arjun Vidyarthi: What was your aim when you took over at CK?
Tom Sears: When you go anywhere, the aim is to make a positive difference, and try and improve things. Basically to leave things in a better position than when you arrive. I think in a lot of areas we have done that. However I have not been able to do that with the National Squad which is my biggest disappointment.
AV: What has been the biggest hurdle that you have experienced during your time?
TS: That's a difficult one. I think there is a lot of apathy in cricket in Kenya. People say they want to move things forward, but there is not that many people wanting to put in the hard yards to help it move forward. And there is a lack of honesty as well, at every level.
I think in CK you have an organisation that is pretty honest and looks to address the shortcomings. Maybe not always as quickly as we'd like, but when you look at former players, the government, media and some of the clubs, I think there is a pretty wide lack of honesty; and there is a lot of personal and hidden agendas that keep on coming to the surface, and that is stifling the growth of cricket here.
AV: What needs to be done to sort this issue out?
TS: I think there needs to be a change in attitude from a lot of people in the game. It's very easy to sit on the sidelines and harp about what's wrong, the people need to get off their backsides and do something about it. Make no bones about it, you've got former players who sit on the sidelines and criticise, saying this is wrong and that is wrong, and contradict what they have said previously, but they do absolutely nothing to get involved to try and improve the situation.
The one guy I have a lot of respect for is former international Peter Ongondo, who said he wanted to be a coach. He approached CK, asked what he had to do to, he accepted a job out in Nakuru (Rift Valley) as a coach, and is doing a tremendous job out there. I've got a lot of time for Peter and I'm sure he will have success in his career. Now you look at that model, compared to some other former players who sit on the sidelines and constantly spout off about whats wrong – they have had plenty of opportunities to apply for jobs, many have been approached directly yet they still sit on the sidelines and complain. I think that's a shame, and unless that changes there is always going to be problems.
AV: What does the new CEO need to do to ensure success for Kenya?
TS: I think if the structures and systems that we have put in place are built and enhanced over the next few years, you'll see more people playing cricket at every level, you'll see stronger competitive cricket at every level and you'll see ultimately a stronger national team.
The one massive area that needs immediate attention is facilities, because there just aren't enough facilities in the country. That's going to take more than CK.It's going to take the government to start delivering on all their fine words where they have said they want cricket to grow. They need to start delivering because they just haven't done anything so far.
AV: What have been your highlights during your tenure?
TS: Well the positive ones are the East African competition that we launched last year, which went very well. In terms of international performances it would have to be the one-day win over Ireland in Mombasa earlier this year. And a lot of the youth development work we have done in spreading the game in various state schools. Also the events we have run like the national schools final has to be there. Those have all been good successes and good memories.
AV: And finally even though will you still be keeping an eye on cricket in the country?
TS: Absolutely. I'll keep following what's happening over here, and I hope to see them grow from strength to strength.
CK now have the hard task of finding someone to replace Sears, as well as finding a new head coach. However first of all they must figure out a way to sort out the battle between the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) and ex-CEO Tom Tikolo. With the fight still in court, it seems that it may be a long wait until we see an end to that issue.
Meanwhile despite the squabbles, the NPCA have organised a new under-18 tournament which starts next month. The last time this tournament took place was 15 years ago and from it emerged stars like Thomas Odoyo, Jimmy Kamande, Maurice Ouma and Peter Ongondo, amongst others. Fourteen teams split into two groups of seven will battle it out to be crowned champions. The matches will be played in a T20 format, and hopefully we will see new talent emerging, who can one day turn out and make a difference in the national side.