Saturday, January 28, 2006

Youth versus Experience

Ok - time for a little bit of niggle. I have just finished reading this letter to the Nation Newspaper in response to this editorial, that unfortunately I had not found earlier, or I would have already commented. I will comment on the editorial first because, on the whole it does seem pretty much on the money. He is correct in saying that it must be a time for rebuilding, that there must be a National league, and that we must look to the future. He is correct in saying the time for excuses is over, and Cricket Kenya must knuckle down to hard graft. What annoys me are these two paragraphs:
"Players are so demoralised and so the coach's first task will be to give them a reason to play for Kenya again. Development work has stalled and there are very few young players coming through to replace the ageing group of senior players."
Then the conclusion to the article:
"... The selection of players for this tour will be an indication of whether Cricket Kenya has the courage to dump some of the over-the-hill players and pick young talent."
I have highlighted the two sentences that particularly irk me. If there are so few players coming through with the talent to replace the senior players, how exactly is Cricket Kenya meant to dump the 'over the hill' players and replace them with young talent? There is no point Kenya sending a young, but untalented team to get beaten. Yes we have to build for the World Cup and ahead, but this is not going to be done by getting losing the few matches we get to play.
Kenya has the talent and experience to beat both of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and I agree, young players need to be brought into the side. My problem is the assumption that just because a player is ageing, he is not fit for selection. Look at Shane Warne - very probably Australia's spinner for the World Cup, and Jayasuria's wonderful century on his return from injury. Both players will be 37 by the time the World Cup rolls around in the Windies, yet both will play pivotal roles for their countries. Australia, undoubtedly still the team to beat in ODIs have no qualms in selecting new International players who are getting towards or past 30. Experience counts.
That said, new players do need to be brought into the team to replace those who haven't performed. Alfred Luseno, as I mentioned in a previous post is a prime example, he is young, and is reported to have the skill to greatly benefit Kenya's bowling attack. Selection must be done on merit, with a mid-term view to the World Cup. If a player is going to be available to play in the West Indies, and has the talent, he should be picked in the side. If this means that a more junior player who has less talent misses out, then so be it. Kenya does not have the luxury with experimenting much with our line up. Of the senior players, we must pick those with proven records. Where the youngsters are selected, it should be at the expense of players who have not delivered in the past, not at the expense of the eldest. Winning and Losing can be as much a state of mind in cricket as talent. For this reason, we must have a balanced side with the experience of age blended with the fire of youth.

No comments: