Abu Dhabi cricketers' Kenya trip called off after Simba Premier League is postponed

Tournament, scheduled for September 10 to 19, delayed due to travel restrictions

AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 05 MARCH 2020. Shadab Ahamed, tournament director of the Abu Dhabi Bash at the Al Ain Cricket Grounds. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Amith Passela. Section: Sport.
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Cricketers in Abu Dhabi had to cancel their travel to Kenya after the Simba Premier League (SPL) was postponed following a new travel restriction imposed by the government of the African nation.

The franchise league, made up of six teams, was scheduled to take place at the Ruaraka Sports Club grounds in Nairobi from September 10 to 19.

The franchises had drafted 15 players from Pro Bash, Abu Dhabi’s first domestic franchise tournament, in five of the six teams. They were provided an all-expenses paid trip and the opportunity to play in a top-flight tournament abroad for the first time.

"It was very unfortunate after all the preparations we had to go through in the past two weeks," Shadab Ahamed, player-manager and coordinator of Abu Dhabi cricketers told The National.

“But again, it was because of the prevailing global situation and all of us understand, even though we are disappointed that the tournament had to be postponed in the last moment.

“However, we are more than hopeful we can still go and play in the SPL once a new date is finalised. The players were excited and looking forward to play in this tournament.”

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Also, 18 players from India had arrived in Dubai to travel with the group. Three Abu Dhabi-based cricketers were to fly out from Pakistan.

“We were informed four days ago by the organisers that the league may be postponed. We waited for their confirmation until Monday before going through the cancellations process of our travel,” Ahamed said.

According to a spokesman for the SPL, the league is postponed due to the strict government measures and the logistical challenges related to international travel.

“We have rescheduled the tournament to a later date,” he added.

Ahamed was drafted for Ganga Fighters led by Kenya international Morris Ouma and include marquee signing Asadullah Khan Pathan, the former Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman.

Former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu along with former IPL players Shadab Jakati, Paul Valthaty, Manpreet Singh Gony and Siddhartha Trivedi are the other marquee signings in the franchises.

Jimmy Kamande is captain of Hirani Heros while Kenya captain Shem Ngoche (Rudra Warriors), Rushab Patel (Texas Titans), Elijah Otieno (Dezo Devils) and Nelson Odhiambo (Glory Hotels) lead the other franchises.

The franchise league is organised by Mombasa Simba Cricket Academy run by former Kenyan internationals Thomas Odoyo, Peter Ongondo, Kamande and Tom Mboya.