Saturday, February 25, 2006

Kenya 2006 Squad Profiles

UPDATED 09/05/06
Some brief profiles of the players in the Kenya squad. They are compiled from my own knowledge, private sources, Cricinfo, The Nation and Standard archives, BBC, Test Match Stats, and other random reports from google searches. Links on the player name should take you to their stats page on Cricinfo. As players are added to the squad, I shall try to keep it updated.

Steve Tikolo (Captain).
Born June: 25, 1971, Nairobi.

Bats: Right handed.
Bowling style Right-arm off-spin.

Kenya's captain should need little introduction. Viewed by many as the best batsman outside of Test cricket, Steve averages 52.75 in first class cricket with a top score of 220, and along with Kennedy Otieno, is one of the few Kenyan players to have scored a century in an ODI. He also scored Kenya's first ever half century way back in the 1996 World cup against India. Since then, he has been the mainstay of Kenya's batting line-up, and took over from Maurice Odumbe as Captain of the national side in 2002-3. A wily captain, he is also Kenya's top spinner at present, at least until Collins Obuya can retrieve his form. Yet to take 5 wickets in an innings, he is never the less crucial to restricting the opposition during the middle overs of a match, and this played a large part in the success of the 2003 World Cup. At 34 he is the older statesman of the side, but do not expect Tikolo to be retiring any time soon. He is one of the few Kenyan players who has experienced professional cricket in various countries, and his experience in guiding the youngsters in Kenya's team will be almost as important as him leading the way with the bat. As well as being a great cricketer, he is also a great bloke. March on Steve Tikolo, you are one of Kenya's true sporting heroes!
This year, Steve has had differing form for Kenya. In Zimbabwe, he only really had one good innings, but his 98 in the second match was what won it for Kenya. In Bangladesh, he only played in 3 of the four matches due to a nasty virus, and left the best for last, scoring 81. He continued this good form when Kenya hosted Holland in the Intercontinental Cup a few days later. Kenya were in trouble after a mammoth first innings by the Dutch, but Tikolo pulled off one of the great escape acts of Kenyan cricket with an unbeaten 212. He made sure Kenya avoided the follow on, and in doing so saved the match. Earlier, he captaincy did come under some question with the bowling rotation, but his wonderful innings more than made up for that. He is now the first batsman to make it past 1000 runs in the competition, and by a considerable margin.
Thomas Odoyo (Vice Captain).
Born: May 12, 1978, Nairobi.
Bats: Right handed.
Bowls: Right-arm medium-fast
ODI debut India v Kenya at Cuttack - Feb 18, 1996

Thomas made his ODI debut against India in the 1996 World Cup as a 17 year old, and has been one of the most important players in the Kenyan side ever since. While his bowling has consistently improved over the years, Thomas still has yet to fully realise his potential as a batsman, having only made 3 fifties in 70 ODI innings. That said, he did for a while share a World Record partnership of 119 with Tony Suji against Zimbabwe, so can be very useful. I believe he should be used more higher up the order, as he is often wasted coming in lower down. He will almost certainly be one of Kenya's key players during the rest of the year, and should further add to his haul of 74 One-Day wickets (12 from 9 matches so far in 2006).
Thomas made a good start to the year with a run-a-ball 54 in the first match in Zimbabwe. Since then, he has struggled a bit with the bat despite a few starts. He has continued to work hard with the new ball, and was been rewarded by the man of the match award in the 3rd ODI against Zimbabwe. Thomas was somewhat dissapointing in the Intercontinental match vs Holland, but will no doubt bounce back.
Josephat Ababu
Born: April 15th 1980 in Kakamega, Western Kenya.
Bats: Right handed.
Bowls: Right Arm Fast Medium.

Josephat has been in and out of the Kenyan team ever since an explosive start to his international career, when he bowled Neil Johnson of Zimbabwe for 16 with his first ever ball. Unfortunately, he has only played 2 other ODIs until the Zimbabwe series, and was yet to take another wicket at International level. He has a fluid delivery, and is yet to live up to the promise he showed at junior level when he took 7 wickets for Kenya at an average of 32.43.
His selection in the squad to Zimbabwe gave him another chance to show what he can do, but unfortunately he was unable to capitalise taking only 1 wicket in 3 matches and conceding 5.5 an over. His selection was in no doubt partly due to his performance for Swamibapa in the recent NPCA Main League where he took 13 wickets at an average of 12.46 for a miserly 2.79 runs an over. International cricket is a very different kettle of fish, and after the Zimbabwe tour he was again dropped from the side. With a good crop of youngsters knocking on the door, it might be a while before we again see Josephat back in the side.
Born: November 22, 1984, Bhuj, India
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Medium.
Like Ashish Karia, Rajesh was recalled to the National side for the Intercontinental match against Holland after a strong showing against them for Kenya A. He is a tidy medium pacer, and showed why he was selected in Holland's second innings when he bowled 8 overs, 6 maidens and took 1 wicket for 5 runs. One of the youngsters in the side, expect to see more of Rajesh over the next few years. Hopefully, Steve Tikolo and the Kenyan selectors see fit to give him more overs in future matches.
Born December 12, 1978, Muranga
Bats: Right Handed.
Bowls: Right-Arm Off Breaks
ODI debut Kenya v Zimbabwe at Taunton - May 15, 1999

Jimmy Kamande is one of the better fielders I have had the good luck to watch. For that reason alone, I am glad to see him in the squad. As a batsman, Jimmy has never really been able to make his mark in ODIs, but has showed some good fight so far this year, though still been unable to convert his starts. As a bowler, Kamande has the misfortune to have his bowling action called into question, and has missed out on several of Kenya's squads as a result. Now bowling more off-spin than medium pace, his action is hopefully fixed, and he will give Kenya a useful all-round option. He has had mixed results so far with the ball, and may not have done quite enough to make sure of his place. At 27, Jimmy still has some years left if he can cement his place with good performances this year. but is old enough that, should he fail, he may well lose out to the new crop of players coming through.
Born December 20, 1981, Kakemaga
Bats: Right Handed.
Bowls: Right Arm Fast.
Only ODI Kenya v Sri Lanka at Sharjah - Apr 6, 2003

Andy Moles, who coached Alfred in the South Africa youth camp, regards him as a bowler with the potential to dismiss batsmen from full member countries on a regular basis. He is one of Kenya's only genuine pace bowlers, and can move the ball as well. Unfortunatley, Alfred has not yet lived up to the expectations and had indifferent tours of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. As a result, he was left out of the squad to face Holland, which could possibly have been a better hunting ground for him. It is likely that Alfred will get a bit of a run for the A team this year which may give him the experience and confidence to make the step back to the national team. Kenya still expects a lot from him, so lets hope he can find that spark that Andy Moles was talking about soon!
Born: June 4, 1986, Mombasa
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Medium-Fast
Not quite 20, Asish is certainly one of the Kenyan players of the future. Selected for the Intercontinental match against Holland after a strong bowling effort for Kenya A, Ashish had to wait an inexplicably long time before being thrown the ball. By the time he got his opportunity, the game was already slipping away from Kenya. He wasted no time, and was straight into the wickets taking out first Tim de Leede and then Centurion Ryan ten Doeaschate in quick succession. Again, he had to wait in the second innings, and again removed De Leede. Hopefully this performance will mean that he gets more of a chance in the future. One of the few players from Mombasa to make it into the national side, he is an example of the talent available aroung Kenya once a proper grassroots structure is set up. Look forward to seeing more of this young man in the future.
Born: December 22, 1986, Mumbai, India
Bats: Right Handed.

At 19, Mishra was the youngest of the players in Kenya's touring squad to Zimbabwe. He is also one of the more exciting prospects for Kenya's future. Yet to debut in an ODI, and only having played 2 first class matches for an average of 8.50, one would be forgiven for wondering why he was in the squad at all. The reason is he has plenty of talent, and it is likely that one day he will be a key batsman for Kenya. So far this year, he has been one of the few players who has really rewarded the selectors for choosing him. His ODI debut didn't get off to a great start, being run out for 5, but he has since got into the fourties three times and the thirties once. Twice he has got out trying for his fifty, and once he gets that monkey off his back, he will no doubt go on to make some big scores. Selected for strong form in the domestic league, he has the ability to see off the new ball and go on to make big totals. Unfortunately, he has so far been used too low in the order, so has had to bat under pressure when the top order failed. If he gets given a chance higher up, he could develop into a really useful number 3 or 4. In the Intercontinental Cup, he came in at 5 after Hitesh Modi was injured. Sadly, he only scored 16, but it is early days still for Tanmay Mishra, so watch this space!
Born: 1971
Bats: Left Handed
Bowl: Occasional Off Break
Hitesh Modi was recalled to the Kenya squad this year for the tour of Bangladesh, having missed out on the Zimbabwe tour due to being out of the country (Cricket Kenya cannot yet afford to fly players back from overseas). His recall was welcome as he is one of the more experienced players in the team, and is a welcome boost to the batting line-up. After an intitial stutter in the first match, the rest of the Bangladesh tour he proved to be steady without setting the matches on fire. Unfortunately for both Hitesh and Kenya, he broke his finger early on in the Intercontinental match against Holland, so was not able to bat to his true potential in that match. He did however bat one-handed right at the end of the innings when Kenya were trying to avoid the follow on. This unselfish act meant Tikolo was able to pass that mark, and Kenya saved the match. Modi only scored 5 runs, but they were possible the most important of his career for Kenya. Hitesh currently plies his trade in England where he captains his club side Chesham. Hopefully, Cricket Kenya, or sponsors will pay to have him flown back for future internationals as he is much needed in the Kenyan batting line-up at the moment.
Born: 1984
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Medium-Fast

One of the 3 players sent to the Youth Training Camp in South Africa, Ngoche is still a bit of an unknown force. Little is known about him other than the facts that he has pace, and can swing the ball. He has been tipped as one of the future mainstays of Kenya's bowling attack, so we shall watch with interest how he performs. So far this year, he has not really been given a real chance. He only got 4 overs in the first match against Zimbabwe, and has been left out since.
Born: July 27, 1981, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed
Bowl: Right Hand Leg Break.
One of the heroes of Kenya's 2003 World Cup success, Collins has been having trouble recently regaining the form that saw him take 5-24 against Sri Lanka in that tournament. He has been to Australia and had coaching from none other than Terry Jenner to try to sort out the problem, but there is still some way to go. If he can get back to his best, he is capable of troubling even the best batsmen, and may yet prove to be a vital player for Kenya over the next few years. No slouch with the bat, he scored 45 twice against Bangladesh when he was recalled to the team for the last two games, so would be a useful player indeed for Kenya if his bowling can come good. Part of his poor form is due to a couple of years plagued by injury (he missed most of the season he was contracted to Warickshire), so hopefully, this is now behind him and he can get back to taking wickets for Kenya.
Born: August 14, 1979, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed

With 23 ODIs under his belt going into Zimbabwe, David does have some experience playing for Kenya. While he has not to date shown any great results - he averages 11.7 with a high score of 57. Fairly successful on the previous visit to Zimbabwe, a good domestic season has paved the way for his recall to the side. One of the players in the squad who I feel needs to step up, or face a future watching from the stands. For a while, he was tipped as Kenya's next wicket Keeper, but with the rise of Ouma he has had to find himself a place as a fielder, something to which he has adapted well. While he did not produce any great performances in either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, and is a slow starter, he was no worse than any of Kenya's other openers. For this reason, he may called upon again, but will need to improve his technique if he is to survive on the international stage.

Kennedy Otieno Obuya.
Born: March 11, 1972, Nairobi
Bats: Right handed Wicket keeper
ODI debut: India v Kenya at Cuttack - Feb 18, 1996

At 33, and having played 71 ODIs to date, Kennedy is on of Kenya's most experienced players, and good performances from him will be vital if Kenya are to rise again in World cricket. He has an impressive resume against the top nations, having scored centuries against both Australia and Bangladesh, and was instrumental in Kenya reaching the Semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup where he scored half centuries against Sri Lanka and India. Most recently, Kennedy has been in Australia where he spent some time under the tutelage of wicket keeping guru Rod Marsh. He says that this time in Australia has improved all aspects of his game, and came good with 2 half centuries against Zimbabwe, both when Kenya were up against the wall. Unfortunately, he had a nightmare tour to Bangladesh and was dropped for the last game as well as the Intercontinental Cup game vs Holland. This caused him to threaten to never again play for Kenya. Hopefully, he can be persuaded to change his mind on this, as I still feel he has a lot to offer. One of the few Kenyan batsmen who has realised his ability to make big scores, Kenya will need his class over the next year as they consolidate their return to International cricket. Without him, Kenya's top order struggled against Holland, and he is a class above the other openers currently available.
Born: February 10, 1977, Nairobi, Kenya
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Fast-Medium
ODI debut Kenya v South Africa at Nairobi (Gym) - Sep 30, 1999

Without doubt, the find of the year for Kenya. Prior to the Zimbabwe tour, Peter Ongondo had played 22 ODI matches for Kenya in total and taken a total of 7 wickets. At the time I wrote "At first, he would seem a surprising pick for this tour. A closer look at his First class record shows he has greater potential however, and he realised this on the last tour to Zimbabwe. He appears to enjoy the conditions in Harare, and picked up two of his best hauls on the tour: 4-33, and 4-31. Coupled with one of the more successful averages in the NPCA domestic competition, it is easy to see why the selectors decided to give him a further go. Picked primarily as a bowler, he does have the ability to hit the ball hard with the bat, and can get some quick runs at the end of an innings. Zimbabwe's pitches are not ideal for batting, and Ongondo should be aiming to add considerably to his ODI wickets over the next couple of weeks."
How true this proved to be! Ongondo has taken a wicket in every match Kenya have played this year, and now has much more impressive figures of 25 wickets at an average of around 33. His figures this year in ODIs are 56.5 Overs, 259 Runs, 18 wickets at an average of 14.39, strike rate of 18.9 and economy of 4.56.
This is an incredible improvement and if he can keep it up, he will be a crucial bowler for Kenya over the next couple of years. Peter has also continued to prove useful with the bat for Kenya, often adding respectability at the end of an innings when the top order have failed. Especially remarkable was his tenacity in hanging around long enough for Tikolo to save the match in the Intercontinental cup. Completely against character, he faced 156 balls for his 37 and without his effort, Kenya would have been in real trouble and facing the follow on. Keep up the great efforts Peter!

Maurice Ouma
Born: November 8, 1982, Kiambli
Bats: Right Handed
Wicket keeper
ODI debut: India v Kenya at Southampton - Sep 11, 2004

At 23, and only having played a handful of ODIs for Kenya so far, Maurice is one of the newer players in the Kenyan team. In the last couple of years, he has shown his potential for Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup, and the tour to Zimbabwe at the end of 2005. Rated by Hossain Ayob, the ICC's development manager for Africa as a star in the making in 2004, he has yet to fully realise his potential, but that may be due to lack of matches. With a busy couple of months at the beginning of 2006, he had his chance to make a mark, but sadly failed to produce. If he is to become the player Kenya need at the top of the order, he must turn his frequent starts into big scores, something that has so far mostly eluded him. His best score so far is 78 against Zimbabwe in the 2005 tour, and Kenya will want more of the same if he is to keep his spot. As Kennedy Otieno nears retirement in a couple of years, Ouma seems to be the most obvious potential replacement for him as wicket keeper, and was chosen as first choice for the Intercontinental match against Holland. This move seemed to backfire on the selectors as Maurice failed again, only scoring 10. As one of the better youngsters currently on offer, he will probably get another chance, but has to start getting the runs if he is going to be a long term prospect.

Brijal Patel
Born November 14, 1977, Nairobi
Bats: Left Handed
Bowls: Slow left-arm orthodox

Brijal Patel's inclusion in the side to tour Zimbabwe came as a surprise to many. Initially left out of even the provisional squad, he was called into the nets to provide the batsman practice against left arm bowling. He impressed, and so earned his recall to the team. A poor international record so far - only one 50 from 60 odd innings, means that this year will probably be Patel's last chance to perform for Kenya. I have seen him play, and he has a much better technique and temperament than his figures indicate. He is also a superb fielder, and has probably improved even more under Roger Harper. He has only taken a few wicket with over 1000 odd balls internationally, so again, in terms of bowling, Patel needs to come good or face being replaced. He is a fighter, so it was a shame to see him fall cheaply against Holland. Brijal is right on the edge of the squad at the moment, and will probably feature in the A team tour to Denmark rather than be a first choice for the national team.
Born: July 18, 1985, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed.
Bowls: Right Arm Medium.

One of the three Kenyans to benefit from the youth training camp in RSA, Kalpesh Patel is an exciting prospect for Kenyan cricket. A fantastic fielder, he is also very quick between the wickets as a batsman, and will be useful as a middle order player to keep the run rate rattling along. Kalpesh also has the ability to reverse swing the ball, and could develop into a very useful batting all-rounder. Only 20, he has a long time ahead of him playing for Kenya, and his progress shall be watched with interest over the coming years. Andy Moles who coached him in South Africa and praised his temperament and team spirit, regards him very highly. He has not really been given a proper chance this year. Taken on the Zimbabwe tour, he returned home unused - criminal considering the performance of some of the other players he could have replaced. Finally getting a chance against Bangladesh, he made a duck in the second match and for some reason was only bowled for 2 overs. He played the third match, but was again under utilised. 12th man against Holland, he did not get a real chance in that game, so we must continue to wait and see what Kalpesh can do for Kenya. Hopefully more faith will be shown in the youngsters over the course of the year.
Tony Suji
Born: February 5, 1976, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right-arm medium
ODI debut Kenya v Pakistan at Nairobi (AK) - Oct 2, 1996

Tony Suji has always been a bit of an enigma to fans of Kenyan cricket. He has never really performed well enough to cement a position in the side, but always does just enough to get selected when a tour comes along. His best performance with the bat was his century against Bermuda in the semi-finals of the Intercontinental Cup last year, and he is reported to have been working more on his batting than bowling. As his bowling has never really impressed, so his improvement with the bat may have been what got him selected. He does have 50 odd ODIs behind him, so experience could count for a lot.
Tony has been used alot at the top of the order this tour, and had again done just enough to keep the selectors persisting with what I consider a serious mistake. Later on in the order, Suji has the potential to play some useful innings, but he does not have the technique to score quickly at the top of the order in one day matches. This has been borne out by his fourth match effort in Bangladesh where he scored a quickfire 30 off 22. His efforts at number 3 generally resulted in a run rate around 50% - not nearly fast enough in the current one day game. There is definitely a place for Tony Suji in Kenya's squad over the next year or so, but lets hope the selectors now pick him lower down the order where he can actually do some damage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh my god k