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Battle commences this weekend

The Cricket Wars will be played this weekend (15-17 Feb) at the Nairobi Gymkhana. The event, which has been postponed twice, was launched last Saturday at the same venue.

Eight teams, made up of Bollywood stars, local cricketers and one Masai warrior, will battle it out to be crowned champion. There is still uncertainty over which former international cricketers will participate in the event, with the likes of Chris Cairns, Muttiah Muralitharan and Andrew Symonds on that list. One thing however is for certain: no Kenyan male international cricketer will play in the event, as the national team will be in Kampala, Uganda, to play in a six-nation ICC Division One T20 event.

I must really applaud the organisers for coming up with this idea. The main goal for many in the cricket fraternity is to once again get "bums on seats" at cricket matches. It has been a while since we got big crowds turning up to watch cricket in Kenya.

For the past two years, SuperSport have done their utmost to try and build the game of cricket in the country. Cricket Kenya came up with an idea called the East Africa Cricket Competitions, which see six teams (four from Kenya and two from Uganda) battle it out in a T20 and 50-over competition. The main matches have been broadcast live on your channel of champions, however the main question-marks that have come up in these two years are that of crowds and sponsors.

The Dream Factory (the company that is organising the Cricket Wars) have done phenomenally well in getting eight corporates to sponsor the teams participating. Cricket Kenya should really take notes and aim to do the same for this year's edition of the EACC. All sports in the country, apart from rugby sevens, have struggled to get sponsors on board. Lately, they have started to trickle into football, with the likes of Tusker sponsoring the Kenyan Premier League, which is also broadcast on SuperSport.

For any sport to truly move forward, there needs to be money pumped in. If the government is not going to help, then the sports bodies in charge must take it upon themselves to look for the much-needed cash. If Jay Varia and the Dream Factory can entice sponsors for his event, which is not being broadcast on TV, then surely CK must be able to get people on board for a tournament that is being show around the continent?

I do however have a bone to pick with The Dream Factory. They are spending almost 28 million Kenyan shillings (approximately R2.85 million) to host this tournament, and paying huge amounts to fly in singers and dancers from India. However they are only willing to pay Kenyan cricketers 4 000 Kenyan shillings(approximately US$45 or R400) per day. That is peanuts. The likes of Symonds, Murali and Cairns will be paid around $20 000 for participating in the event (which is what they charge as appearance fees), while contracted Kenyans are offered a fraction of that. Surely the organisers can do better than that?

To conclude, make sure you make your way to the Nairobi Gymkhana to support this event. Enjoy watching your favourite Bollywood stars and musicians play the wonderful game, but please continue to support cricket in the country beyond this event.

Once this weekend is done, try and make your way to the various clubs next weekend and watch the NPCA 50-over tournament. And once that is over, keep an eye out for the EACC that will come later this year.

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