The much-touted “saviour” of East African cricket in general and local cricket in particular, the East African Cup and the East Africa Premier League started on Saturday with simultaneous Twenty20 matches being played in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kampala.
It is hoped that the tournament, which features six teams - two from Nairobi, one each from Rift Valley and Coast and two from Uganda - will live up to its billing as a selection ground and help these countries come up with strong sides.
There is no gainsaying that Kenya should benefit more from this tournament, being an ICC Associate which has appeared in five consecutive World Cups but is continuously on a downward slide and cannot lay claim to being an emerging cricketing nation.
Hope for better performance
At the Nairobi Club on Saturday, Rift Valley Rhinos played Nairobi-based Kongonis and even though the visitors were all out for a mere 87 in 18.5 overs and Kongonis lost by 20 runs after being bowled out in 17.1 overs, there was hope that higher scores will be registered as the tournament progresses since the players will get to “know” one another and also understand their opponents as they continue training together and playing more matches.
In Mombasa, Nairobi Buffaloes were playing Coast Pekee while in Kampala, Nile Knights were pitted against Rwenzori Warriors.
Tom Sears, Cricket Kenya CEO, has been emphatic that the tournament will help the national side as the selection panel will get a chance to see players’ progress and since the teams have players from Coast and Rift Valley, the panel will even have a bigger pool to pick from.
Apart from the East African Cup and the East Africa Premier League, last week also witnessed the Daima Diaries Obuya Youth Cricket Championships.
Organised by the Obuya Brothers and sponsored by Daima Dairies and co-sponsored by Crown Berger, the main sponsors of EAPL, the event offers even more promise as it gives the youngest players a chance and deserves more support.
Over and again, it has been argued that the national team’s poor performance has been due to of lack of exposure, which in essence can also be attributed to lack of sponsors.
But with the tournaments and the entry of sponsors, the performance on the international stage should get better as players will not only get exposed, but also get motivated.
In the current EAPL, the winning team will get Sh750,000, runners-up Sh200,000 and the player of the tournament Sh50,000.
Winners in the East Africa Cup, the runners-up and the top player will also receive similar amounts.
More sponsors need to throw their weight and money behind different teams for the betterment off the national side.