Kenya's much anticipated zonal league finally gets underway this weekend as Cricket Kenya confirm the squads and fixtures for the event. Sponsors Sahara Computers get the naming rights to all three legs of the competition with the leagues being dubbed The Sahara Elite Cricket League. After criticism of the falling standards of the domestic game, this competition is seen as the first step by Cricket Kenya as they aim to bring things back to where the fans and players expect Kenyan cricket to be. To ensure that the play is of a high quality and the games competitive, Cricket Kenya have selected 60 of the best players in the country and split them into four evenly matched teams. Each team includes four contracted members of the current national squad and has its own coach, physio and team manager.

Play begins in the first stage of the competition, the 20-20 format, this weekend with the Western Chiefs up against the Southern Stars and the Eastern Aces taking on the Northern Nomads. Both games will be played at Nairobi Gymkhana with play getting under way at 9:30 in the morning. With the teams yet to have met and the squads chosen to be of equal strength, it is difficult to predict winners from the games, but competition will be intense throughout as Cricket Kenya have made it quite clear that future selection for the national squad hinges on good performances in the Elite League.

Next weekend sees the culmination of the 20-20 league with a double header on Saturday and Sunday and then the 50-over League will take place on the first 3 weeks of March. The end of March and early April sees the 3-day competition, perhaps the most widely anticipated cricket in Kenya for quite some time. Until now, Kenya has had no multi-day domestic cricket competition and it it hoped that the Elite League will give Kenya's top players some much needed experience at the longer format.

With each team only playing each other once, the leagues will all be over in a couple of months and in the long cricket calendar in Kenya this does seem too short a time. Part of the reason for this is that despite backing from the ICC, ACA and Sahara Computers, funds are still too short to expand the competition at this early stage. The hope is that with a tight competition and high standard of play, more sponsors will come on board for future events and enable the Leagues to be extended. At the moment though, it is certainly a step that moves Kenyan cricket in the right direction and one that has strong implications for a better future for the game in the country.

Full Squads:

Eastern Aces:

Daniel Macdonald (Team Manager)
Shahid Bwibo (Coach)

Steve Tikolo (Capt) (Swamibapa)
Newton Muthee (Telca)
Elijah Otieno (Swamibapa)
Alex Obanda (Swamibapa)
Nelson Odhiambo (Telca)
Harshil Sanghani (Kanbis)
Ramesh Mepani (Kanbis)
Vijay Kalyan (Kanbis)
Lameck Onyango (Swamibapa)
Charles Obuya (Nbi Jafferys)
Amit Bhudia (Coast)
Mansukh Naran (Kanbis)
Kush Parmar (Nbi Gymkhana)
Mitesh Shanghani (Swamibapa)
Sagar Karia (MSC)

Northern Nomads:

Bernard Owino (Team Manager)
Joseph Angara (Coach)

Thomas Odoyo (Capt) (Ngara)
David Obuya (Stray Lions)
Alfred Luseno (Parklands)
James Kamande (Parklands)
Rakep Patel (Nbi Gymkhana)
Shashikant Sanghani (Swamibapa)
Josephat Ababu (Stray Lions)
Dominic Wesonga (Kongonis)
Emmanuel Bundi (Kongonis)
Kewal Patel (Aga Khan)
Shem Obado (Swamibapa)
Kalpesh Patel (Stray Lions)
Anan Gore (Parklands)
Jagdish Khetani (Kanbis)
Mohammed Fazal (Coast)

Western Chiefs:

David Tikolo (Team Manager)
Martin Suji (Coach)

Peter Ongondo (Capt) (Swamibapa)
Morris Ouma (Swamibapa)
Moses Otieno (Swamibapa)
Collins Obuya (Stray Lions)
Ken Migai (Telca)
David Maina (Ruaraka)
Harish Varsani (Kanbis)
Pritesh Lalji (Kanbis)
Hassan Abdi (Coast ?)
James Ngoche (?)
Prakash Pindolia (Swamibapa)
Malhar Patel (Stray Lions)
Jadavji Jeshani (Kanbis)
Tony Suji (Swamibapa)
Amit Bij (MSC)

Southern Stars:

Davinder Bharij (Team Manager)
Alfred Njuguna (Coach)

Kennedy Obuya (Capt) (Stray Lions)
Nehemiah Odhiambo (Swamibapa)
Rajesh Bhudia (Kanbis)
Hiren Varaiya (Nbi Gymkhana)
Peter Kituku (Stray Lions)
Alpesh Bhudia (Kanbis)
Darshit Shah (Nbi Gymkhana)
Amit Shukla (Ruaraka)
Ashish Bhatt (Swamibapa)
Brijal Patel (Aga Khan)
Jai Trivedi (MSC)
Rajesh Varsani (Kanbis)
Stewart Kayne (Aga Khan)
Dharmendra Mepani (Kanbis)
Zahir Abbas (MSC)