NAIROBI, October 25- The silence that has befallen the cricket fraternity in Kenya can only be compared to that which sweeps the whole ground when the most relied upon batsman walks back to the pavilion after the fall of their wicket when the team needs them most.
Tributes and messages of condolences continue flowing as the news sunk in that the captain of the women’s national side Emily Chepng’etich Ruto, nicknamed Chepcricket by her teammates is no more.
Her untimely death did not rock only cricket but the entire sporting fraternity as well.
Emily, the daughter to Bomet and Council of Governor’s Chairman Isaac Ruto, was diagnosed with Leukemia late last year.
Her last assignment for Kenya was in December in the same year where she led Kenya to the Africa T20 championships in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
“We have lost a very resilient player and lady, the backbone of women cricket in Kenya. She was very humble and caring who never fought with anyone and who was quick to apologise if on wrong,” Dun Okinyo the former women’s team coach eulogised.
“Emily was passionate about cricket and she gave her all to learn the sport. When I coached Kenya High she played her first game by accident because during the inter-house championships at the school, one team didn’t have enough players and she fell in love with it ever since,” Okinyo asserted.
Ruto’s interest in cricket deepened in 2007 when Kenya hosted the World Cricket League and because she wanted to learn the game, she took to scoring on the side to ensure she understood the rules.
It was after that, that her hunger drove her to become the captain of the national side.
“By the time Emily was coming on board women cricket was dead, she encouraged other ladies to give their best and where we were short, she would bring water from home and volunteer to carry kit for other players so they could all play” Okinyo revealed.
Ruto will be remembered as the only lady to ever play in the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association men’s league when she turned up for Kongonis against Ruaraka in 2008.
“I have not only lost a friend but a sister, Emily had a golden heart. She was so caring and ensured that we all werecomfortable despite all the challenges we went through as players.
“She stood by me in difficult times, we would talk endless and not only was she supportive in playing even in life lessons,” said her best friend and teammate Sylvia Wairimu.
Wairimu who was the first to receive a call from Ruto’s family after her demise said it will take ages for her to find anything close because she is irreplaceable.
“Every time I would travel and she wasn’t there she was the first face I saw at the airport upon return. I will miss her kind heart, love and a shoulder to lean on she gave me. No one can fill the void she has left.”
-Humble to a fault-
The cricket fraternity converged at Ruaraka Sports Club Saturday evening where they shared their memories and paid tribute to the mother figure of women’s cricket a venerated position she acquired despite being only 25 years-old at her demise.
“Emily was very humble. Bearing her background, no one could tell she was from a powerful family. She interacted with anyone and would go anywhere to give back to many girls.
“She played with a lot of passion and she was the peacekeeper in the team. Emily was a blessing to Kenyan cricket. We will keep celebrating you,” Peter Ong’ondo the current women’s cricket team coach told Capital Sport.
“Ruto’s dream was to see the women team play in the World Cup. She always encouraged the girls to fight harder to reach there. She wanted to be a household name like the big names we have in Kenyan cricket.
“She passed on without achieving her dream. I hope one day the girls will make her dream true by qualifying to the world event,” Okinyo summed.
She leaves a rich legacy in women’s cricket with a 4th wicket partnership record of 265 runs with Sarah Bakhita (186) while she contributed 78 runs when they played Rwanda in 2008 during the East Africa championships.
Her good deeds and the news did not only touch Kenya, as players from East Africa and abroad continued to eulogise her in what they called a celebration to the lady who gave her all to Kenyan cricket.
By Rachel Musyoka
The writer is a former reporter at People Daily and works for SuperSport
Full name Emily Ruto
Born June 16, 1989
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium-fast