Nairobi: Retired world cricket stars will return to the Nairobi Gymkhana cricket pitch to relive their flashy heydays when they meet in Nairobi for the inaugural Legends Cup scheduled to take place from July 19 to July 28. The ten-day tournament, organised by Crickeley Management Ltd will feature three franchise teams comprising players from Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, West Indies and England; Asia team that includes India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and Asia Pacific bringing together players from Australia and New Zealand, Xinhua reported.
"We want to bring back the cricket culture and the excitement that goes with the game through the tournament. We have realised that part of the reason Kenyan cricket has declined rapidly is lack of proper role models for our young players to look up to," Chidambaran Subramanian, the chairman of the organising committee, said on Monday.
To set the ball rolling, two legends of the Indian cricket team Sayeed Kirmani and Balwinder Sandhu were in Nairobi over the weekend to grace the official launching ceremony. The two, who were joined by local legends of the game, Maurice Odumbe, Steve Tikolo and Aasif Karim said they had come to lend their support for the event which promises to be spectacular.
The opening ceremony for the tournament which slated for July 19 will be preceded by the bidding and tendering process for the players. Other than the action on the pitch, the organisers hope to inspire the growth of the game at the grassroot- and school-level through clinics that will be conducted by the legends.
The tourney will be held at a time when the standards of cricket in the country is at an all-time low after Kenya, as late as 2003, was in a special group of Associate member countries of the International Cricket Council (ICC) that were on the brink of acquiring the much coveted Test status to languishing in the group of minnows.
Following the latest development in the game, former international cricketers have called for a meeting on April 14 to salvage the standards of the game that is currently on a nose-dive mode in the country. The players, who plied their trade for the East African nation during the game's prime between 1960 and 1990, will meet in Nairobi to discuss the crisis facing the once popular sport both at the board level and the national team's performance.
The game plunged into further calamity after a section of the national leadership, led by the chairperson Jackie Janmohammed, resigned after Kenya's poor performance at the U-18 Cricket World Cup and the country's latest dive into the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League Division Three.
For the last 12 years, Kenya has cumulatively received over $17 million from the ICC for the development of the game and administrative purposes. Sadly, the cricket-loving public is yet to see even a single page of statements of accounts of how the money has been utilized.