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Kanbis players deserve more national recognition

The Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) held their award ceremony for the 2011/2012 season last weekend with one club standing out above the rest.

The award ceremony was held after the final of the NPCA under-18 tournament, which was held after a 16-year break. Some 240 youngsters took part in the tournament, with Kanbis Blue and Simba Union meeting in the final (which was won by Kanbis).

It was very exciting to watch the future of Kenya Cricket take part in the event, and what was even more exciting was the level at which the game was played. Four centuries were scored with 10-15 half centuries being made as well; while four bowlers got five wicket hauls. A special mention must go out to 14-year-old Kanbis Blue bowler Snehil Gajaparia who took 18 wickets during the whole competition, including a Man of the Match performance in the final, where he ended up with five wickets for eight runs in four overs. Another Kanbis player, Dhiren Ghondaria, shone with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 156 not out in one of the games. That's an incredible score by any player in a 20-over match.

Kanbis were the stand-out winners in the NPCA last season, taking most of the awards on offer. The Kanbis Cricket Club has lead from the front over the last few seasons in all categories from under-13 level, up to the main super league team. They are a well-oiled cricketing machine and the passion shown by them is matched by very few sides. It is, however, disappointing that only one of their players - Rakep Patel - is on a full-time contract with the Kenyan national team. It makes me wonder how the selectors for the country's national side go about picking their players. If you have one team that is head and shoulders above the rest on the local scene, then surely you should have more players from that side in the national set-up (it only seems logical).

Take football for example: The Italian side who took part in the Euro 2012 competition had six Juventus players in their squad of 15, and it’s only because Juve were the best side in the Seria A last season. The Spain team was made up mostly of Barcelona and Real Madrid players who are the best sides in the country and so on and so forth.

The selectors should seriously consider picking up a few more players from the Kanbis side who will have a chance to display their talent during the East Africa Competitions (EAC) which kicks off this weekend. If/when Kanbis perform, CK should consider them for the squad representing us in the Namibia I-Cup matches, which will be played in September.

Another consideration for the EAC is Maurice Odumbe perhaps. At the age of 43, Odumbe is still capable of playing cricket and proved this over the last season, where he ended up taking the Best Bowler award in the NPCA super league. Maurice has had his ups and downs over the last decade after being suspended from the game in 1994 due to match-fixing. He was banned for five years, and is now looking to revive his career in the sport. Though this is a very touchy subject for most people, who feel Maurice shouldn't have anything to do with cricket in Kenya after what he did, players for the EAC should be chosen on merit and no one can say that he hasn't earned a place. Should making a mistake in your sporting career determine the rest of your life?

Finally if you are in Kampala, Nairobi or Mombasa this weekend and have a free morning or afternoon, I have a plan for you. Six games will be played this weekend and there are some mouth-watering ties in the schedule:

Saturday marks the start of this year’s East Africa Premier League 20 over competition, with Kongonis taking on new entrants Kanbis in Nairobi.

Meanwhile, the defending EAPL champions Nile Knights will take on fellow Ugandans Rwenzori Warriors in Kampala, while Rift Valley Rhinos are in Mombasa to face Coast Pekee. These sides will then lock horns on Sunday in the East Africa Cup 50-over competition at the same venues.

So make your way down to The Nairobi club, Coast Gymkhana or the Kyambogo Cricket Oval in Kampala for some exciting cricket.

I'll leave you with some results from the weekends' awards ceremonies:

NPCA Awards:

Under 18
Best bowler: Snehil Gajaparia, 18 wickets - Kanbis
Best Batsman: Dhiren Ghondaria, 486 runs - Kanbis
Player of the tournament: Rajesh Khetiya - Kanbis

40-over winners: Kanbis
20-over winners: Swamibapa
20/20 Super league: Straylions A

50-overs tournament Super league
Best bowler: Maurice Odumbe
Best Batsman: Rakep Patel
Winners: Kanbis A
Runners-up: Straylions A

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