Sunday, April 02, 2006

Kenya Secure Draw In Nairobi

After Holland's huge first inning total, Kenya were never going to be able to win this match. Looking at the score at the lunch on day three one would have been forgiven on putting money not only on Holland taking the 6 points for the first innings, but the 14 on offer for the win as well. Kenya were not going to take home any points for the match, but had to aim to restrict how many the Dutch could take. The heroics on the third afternoon from Tikolo, Ongondo and Modi did exactly that. By passing 325, they forced holland to have to bat again, and thus effectively saved the match, and the Dutch from gaining the extra 14 points. It was not the result that we were hoping for at the beginning of this match, and it leaves us with a huge amount to do in the next two fixtures against Canada and Bermuda, but it is a fantastic effort in the circumstances. Well done again to Tikolo and his support acts for their defiance.
Sadly, none of the online daily papers chose to recognise what was one of the best ever innings by a Kenyan, certainly that I have had the pleasure to follow. Batsmen making huge scores, and fighting hard to defend their countries from similar fates in Test matches earn huge accolades. The Intercontinental Cup is at the moment the closest Kenya can get to this level, and the effort to avoid the follow on deserved to be seen and praised for the superb achievement it was. I don't think there is another non-Test playing batsman out there that could have achieved what Tikolo did, and even many of those that do would find it a task beyond them. Steve Tikolo is one of the greatest sportsmen our country has seen and his effort deserves the respect of those who write about Kenyan sport.
Holland chose to bat out day four rather than go for a declaration and attempt for a win. Steve Tikolo used the opportunity to give his young bowlers a good run. Ashish Karia and Rajesh Bhudia were the pick. Karia bowled 12 overs, 5 maidens, 27 runs and added 1 wicket to his two from the first innings. Bhudia bowled 8 overs, 6 maidens, 5 runs and 1 wicket. Great stuff from the two youngsters, they have both firmly underlined their claims for a permanent place in the side this match. Brijal Patel, Tanmay Mishra, and Tony Suji also all took a wicket as Holland were restricted to 5-202 by the close of play.
The full scorecard can be found on Cricket Europe who covered the match live and also cricinfo.
While the last day was a bit of a quiet one after the first three, Kenya can come away feeling that they did well to avoid defeat. For some, it will have been a huge learning experience, and coach Roger Harper now knows how much he has to get the team to improve before they take on Canada away, starting on July 29th. Hopefully, Cricket Kenya will be able to organise some sort of domestic competition in the interim to give any potential players a better feel for the 4 day game. Credit to Holland, who played well above expectations. They can look forward to their next matches against Canada and Bermuda with confidence. For Kenya, it needs to be a rebuilding phase over the next few months and beyond. Kenya has the latent talent to become a great cricketing nation, we now know how far away that dream is, and what we have to do to achieve it. There are some good youngsters coming through already without a proper structure to nurture them. It is imperative that a feeder system is set up to coach youngsters from an early age, give players from all regions a fair opportunity and keep good players involved in the game, and help them step up to the senior level. For the administration, there is hard work ahead to put this in place, and also keep up the momentum with the senior squad. For the players in, and on the edge of the national team, they must work harder than ever before to refine their skills and prepare for their next assignment. It will be tough, but we can, must, prevail.

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