EAPL a success but quality found wanting
Cricket fans in Kenya and Uganda have had a lot to cheer about over the past few weeks, thanks to the ongoing East Africa cricket competitions.
The T20 East Africa Premier League (EAPL) concluded a few weeks ago, with Kenyan side Rising Star Chuis being crowned victors after an exciting final against the Rwenzori Warriors from Uganda.
Cricket Kenya (CK) and all those involved in the competition, must be heartily congratulated for putting on a fantastic cricketing festival, which was truly enjoyed by all who came to the Nairobi Club and Simba Union, as well as by those who watched the matches that were broadcast live on SuperSport.
The inclusion of Pakistan internationals Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Nazir and Mohammed Sami was a fantastic idea. It was great to see these experienced cricketers passing on their knowledge to the up-and-coming Kenyan players. The Pakistanis also had the crowds out of their seats, thanks to their swashbuckling style of play. The cricket balls went flying all over Forest Road in Nairobi, with some breaking windows in neighbouring buildings, while others were hitting cars that were driving past the venue.
Despite the tournament being a runaway success, there are a few issues that arose after the five-day event.
Advertising of the event
Cricket Kenya really let a lot of people down by not advertising the event in good time. I spoke to CK chairperson Jackie Janmohamed on the issue, and she agreed with my assessment. For a tournament like the EAPL, it is imperative to let people know about it in good time, especially with four star Pakistan players taking part in the event. Many people found out about these players' involvement only after the end of the event, and blamed the lack of advertising for this.
The billboards for the EAPL went up only a day before the start of the tournament, while there were no adverts on radio, TV or in the newspapers. Social media has also become a huge medium in which you can spread news about an event, however I failed to see a single tweet from CK pushing the event, while their Facebook page had no info about it either.
Updating live scores
With matches taking place at two venues, it was extremely hard for fans stuck at work to find out what was going on with the games. CK's website also had no live scores service, despite a section on their page set aside for it.
Quality of cricket
The quality of cricket from Kenyan players was a major disappointment. Apart from the likes of Collins Obuya (Man of the Tournament) and Hiren Varaiya (most wickets), there were really no stand-out performances from our Kenyan players. In comparison to the Ugandan sides, we really were appalling. The Ugandans threw themselves in front of the ball to try and stop boundaries, they dropped very few catches, and they exerted huge pressure with the ball to keep their opponents at bay. It would have been very interesting to see how the tournament would have turned out if the Kenyan sides didn't have the help of the Pakistani internationals.
Another thing that stood out for me was the performances of Kenya's under-19 players. Players such as Paramveer Singh, Gurdeep Singh, Harrison Ambani and a few others were great to see, and I'm sure we will see them in the national team sooner rather than later. However the others were extremely poor. Steve Tikolo, the coach of the under-19s, has a lot of work to do, and if I were him, I'd bring in a fielding coach fast. The number of dropped catches and overthrows, along with the general standard of fielding from these youngsters, was unacceptable. Something needs to be done quickly to rectify these issues.
East Africa Cup
Some good news however for cricket fans, is that SuperSport will broadcast the semifinals and final of the East Africa Cup 50-over competition which is currently under way. The two Ugandan sides, Warriors and Knights, have continued their fine form, and have both qualified for the semis, with the Kenyan sides battling each other for the remaining two slots. The semis will be played on August 31 and September 1, with the finals taking place on Sunday the 8th of September.
For those of you in Kenya, make your way down to the Simba Union to catch the action, while the rest of you can watch every ball on your World of Champions.