Nairobi Invitational Cricket League provided silver lining

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 00:00 | By
Kenya’s Irfan Karim (left) and Rushabhvardhan Patel in action during a match against Uganda. Photo/PD/ALEX NJUE

Players and officials always complained of non-paid allowances and delayed salaries while the women’s national team continued to be ignored. 

The only positive was the inaugural Nairobi Invitational Cricket League which is now seen as a replacement for the moribund Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA). 

Nairobi Invitational Cricket League popularly known as NICL successfully run the T20 and 50 Overs Championships for three divisions where Kanbis and Swamibapa won the respective classes in the Super Division with good input from national team players such as Naman Patel, Rakep Patel, Emmanuel Bundi, Dhiren Gondaria, Nelson Odhiambo and Irfan Karim. 

It was even more exciting and alluring as teams and standout players received cash rewards unlike before. 

The tournament also saw the emergence or renaissance of teams like Sir Ali Muslim Club and Ngara Sports Club. 

The success story of NICL, which had sponsorships from Hirani Telcom and Mombasa Cement, has left managers of NPCA in a spot of bother as their future now looks bleak, having squandered decades in office with nothing to show for it.

Factional feuds

NPCA has been accused of not marketing the sport enough which made it only an ordinary spectacle and the success of NICL, in just their first year, proves that.

Politics is never far way from Kenyan cricket this days and 2019 was not different. 

Rift Valley Cricket Association (RVCA) and Coast Cricket Association (CCA) had factional feuds that overshadowed the game.

The bone of contention was the May elections occasioned by the Sports Disputes Tribunal directive that polls were necessary following a split in the sport. 

Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa had set up an interim committee to run the sport and this caught the attention of the mother body International Cricket Council who were not impressed. 

Cricket Kenya itself had chaotic “elections” as former chairperson Jackie Janmohammed returned to the helm in an exercise boycotted by several delegates who termed the process a sham and a rubber stamp for officials who had done little to redeem the sport.

The national men’s teams, which also had selection drama, failed to do well especially in the T20 global qualifiers in Dubai in August and the Cricket World Cup Challenge in Oman in November. 

Murmurs of discontent were also heard when legendary Swamibapa all-rounder Lameck Onyango and Jadavji Bhimji made surprising returns to the national team with the latter having played his last match for Kenya 10 years ago.

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