With our coaching schedule over it was time to return to Nairobi and begin the long journey home. There was one final highlight remaining however, as several members of the tour party had managed to blag a game at the beautiful Nairobi Cricket Club for the annual Chairman’s XI vs Patron’s XI match.
I had been really looking forward to beginning my cricket season in February, although after some excessive end of tour celebrations on Friday night now I wasn’t so sure. An unsociable starting hour of 11am combined with a late night and a 3 hour commute from Nakuru had sapped my enthusiasm somewhat. Almost inevitably my team was fielding first, and the cricketing gods decreed that the first spiralling catch would head in my direction. Luckily high catching was one of the techniques I had helped to coach over the past two weeks, and I perfectly executed the ‘stagger round in a circle before falling over and spilling the ball’ technique that has served me well my whole cricket career.
Despite an inauspicious start the Cricket Without Boundaries participants acquitted themselves well with scores of 58, 25 and 21 not out. I managed 34 runs myself, benefiting from two dropped catches and a missed run out, before managing to hit the oppositions Zimbabwean First Class bowler out of the attack. He had obviously fallen for my cunning ‘staggering drunk’ act earlier in the day.
As well as being the capital of Kenya, Nairobi is the capital of the country’s cricket. The Nairobi Club has in place a similar structure to what we’re trying to establish in other parts of Kenya. They have a youth system that identifies and progresses young talent, many from disadvantaged areas. Four of the current Kenya national team came through the Nairobi club ranks, they say many more less privileged locals are held back not by talent but by the meagre diet that leaves them weaker than their richer counterparts. Unfortunately for cricket in Kenya other clubs aren’t always as progressive, and in some regions cricket remains the game of the elite.
Thinking back to my flight out it feels like much more than two weeks ago because of all the varied experiences we have squeezed in. I’d like to thank Cricket Without Boundaries for providing me with the opportunity, including Andrew Ryan and all the other members of staff. Also a mention our tour leader ‘big squirrel’ John and Cricket Kenya host ‘little squirrel’ David. It as been great fun sharing this experience with the other volunteers, Alan, David, Pete, Gareth and Jambo Joe and finally a big thank you to all those who sponsored me.
The two weeks have at times been emotional, usually tiring, and never once dull and I feel much richer for the experience. Once we had finished the coaching on Friday the overwhelming feeling was relief, at times we have struggled with exhaustion, sunburn, a punishing travel schedule and various other ailments. I hope one day I’ll be able to return to Kenya, and hopefully eventually to see them play as a full Test cricket nation.
Celebrating the end of a successful tour we had a final couple of Tusker’s. The national TV station, KBC, ran its English news bulletin at 9pm. Our tournament in Nakuru had made the sports news, the third story in the section, relegating highlights of a couple of little known English football clubs – Liverpool and Manchester City, into fourth place.