Wednesday, February 08, 2006

African Associates Struggle at U19 World Cup

It has not been a good few days for Uganda and Namibia at the Under 19 World Cup. Both teams got off to a disastrous start with Namibia being belted to the tune of 9 wickets by India, and Uganda doing only marginally better by losing to Pakistan by 8 wickets. Round 2 has hardly been much better - the main difference was that this time the opposition batted first, so Namibia lost to Sri Lanka by 137 runs, while Uganda went down to New Zealand by 122 runs. Not good results at all, and the worrying thing is that these teams both qualified at the expense of Kenya to reach the finals. We know from past experiences that Kenya has a long way to go in terms of development, but this really does drive the point home. For cricket in Kenya to rise to a level where we can compete against the top teams, we have two huge mountains to climb. First, we need to vastly increase the number of youngsters playing the game, and I am told that the new administration are hard at work trying to achieve this. Secondly, we then need to raise the standard of those youngsters so that they not only beat the likes of Uganda and Namibia, but can also stand toe to toe with the established nations. This will definitely be the harder of the tasks. It will need resources in terms of coaches, equipment and time. Currently, Kenya does not have a lot of any of those, so Cricket Kenya are going to have to come up with some novel solutions. Perhaps the most obvious is utilise ex-players. There must be plenty out there with something to teach to kids, and just going on the state of the economy, many could probably use a bit of extra cash. Equipment is more tricky. Some of the monies from the ICC grant will obviously go towards this, but again resourcefulness will have to be the key. The Tikolo brothers are fine examples of this - they learnt to play using a cricket stump as a bat, and a carved maize cob as the ball. Looking at the way Steve Tikolo bats, maybe this should be introduced as a standard practice. It is cheap, and with a few more batsmen like him in the ranks, a world class standard would not seem so far away.

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