Times they are a-changin'
Cricket Kenya Chairman Samir Inamdar's tenure ends on the 27th of May after seven years in charge. Though many fans and former players may think that he has been a failure, many do not know the good that he and his team have done for the game in the country.
In 2005, when Inamdar was voted into the top job, the Kenya Cricket Association (KCA) as it was called at the time, was in a right state. After the dizzying heights of reaching the semifinals at the 2003 World Cup, Kenya was brought back to earth with an almighty thud.
The players weren't happy as they hadn't been paid almost $90 000 from the prize money won at the World Cup, while the association had debts of over half a million dollars. The ICC had also suspended all funding to the sport, due to the lack of governance in the organisation. You could almost compare it to how the US was when Barack Obama took over from George W. Bush.
No one could have thought that the game in the country could reach this state, especially after that 2003 World Cup. The whole cricketing world, especially the ICC, had big plans for the country, and they proved it by pledging a million dollars to a scheme called "Project Kenya". This was meant to help the administration take the game to all corners of the country, to try and find a pool of players that would continue to supply the national side with quality.
An academy was built at the Simba Union Club in Nairobi, which had the latest equipment at the time, while fans couldn't wait for Kenya to become a test-playing nation, which was the ultimate goal. Fast forward a few years, and the Academy has been knocked down, while the quality of cricket in the country is nowhere near what was expected.
However, things may be looking up for now. Inamdar and his team have transformed the financial side, with the accountants almost half a million dollars in the black. The sponsors have also come back, with Karuturi Global, Boom Boom and Crown Berger paints all on board at different levels of the sport.
There are now around 18 fully contracted players on various salaries from junior to senior levels, and they are given full medical coverage as well as match appearances, "per diems", when away on tour and much more.
The game has also been taken to the grassroots level, with a fully fledged development programme in place all over the nation. There are now primary-school competitions as well as a very successful secondary school tournament, while the ladies have also been catered for with a local four-team womens league in place. On top of this, CK have joined hands with NGO Cricket Without Borders, who travel the world teaching the game, as well as trying to teach young children about Aids Awareness.
Speaking to Inamdar, however, he does have a few regrets - number one being the performance of the national side during his tenure. The second is the lack of pace of the development procedure. However, as they say it's better late than never, and with the foundations laid to take the game countrywide, it wont be long til the national side has new talent that can take them back to top.
Incoming Chairman Shamji Patel has served under Inamdar as vice-chairman, so he knows what will be expected of him in his new role. What I would like to see is the incorporation of past players into the mix. There has always been a divide between the board and the players, which has seen strikes and disagreements over the past few years.
Bringing in the likes of legends like Steve Tikolo, Kennedy Obuya, Thomas Odoyo and more to work with the players may bring out the best in them. These were the players the current crop idolised during their early years, and it can only work to the advantage of both parties, as long as they all agree on one vision: moving the game forward.