Sunday, June 25, 2006
A common theme when I tell people about this site, and even from the emails I get in response to it, is Kenya's excellent performance at the last World Cup and our chances of a similar upset come next year's event in the West Indies. I thought that with under a year to go now, I would take a brief look at what our opposition in the first round are up to and where they are at compared to us.
Kenya's group includes England, New Zealand and Canada, and it would not be unfeasible to think we have a chance of going through to the next round so long as we continue to improve.
Canada are currently seen as being one of the weakest Associate nations, recently losing to both Zimbabwe and Bermuda. Kenya will get an ideal opportunity to gauge our progress against them soon when they host us in the Intercontinental Cup next month and ODI series that follows. As things stand, we should be looking at beating them, and fairly comfortably. They do have potential to trouble us, but not I think with the current lineup. Internal politics may mean that it is not their strongest team that travels to the West Indies. Currently, I would expect Canada to lose all three matches in the first round, meaning that only one upset victory over either England or New Zealand should be enough to take us through.
New Zealand have released their build up program, and will go into the World cup having recently played Sri Lanka and Australia, two of the form sides of One Day cricket. The Kiwis are a largely under rated side internationally, and they would be my pick to top our group. They ducked playing us in the last World Cup however, and this alone will be motivation for Steve Tikolo and the team when the two sides do finally meet. I don't expect a win against the Black Caps, but do think we may well give them a scare.
England are currently undergoing a horror series against Sri Lanka, who are now 3-0 up and looking for a whitewash. As always when this happens, there are mutterings that England do not take One Day cricket seriously. Anyone who believes this is also their attitude to the World Cup is incredibly naive. I have little doubt that come March, they will come out all guns blazing. Despite this, they will be our best chance of a Full member scalp in the first round. Ireland recently ran them close while missing three of the best players, and this gives me hope that we can upset Freddie et al in Jamaica.
As for Kenya, we are making progress, but in some ways it is painfully slow. We are still at least a couple of batsmen short at the top of the order, and need a strike bowler to step up as well. Peter Ongondo has shown great promise with the ball so far this year, but his strength is coming in at first change. We badly need someone to partner Thomas Odoyo opening the bowling so that Peter can have a decent crack at the middle order.
Hopefully, Kennedy Otieno will be brought back into the fold having been given his wake up call recently. While he is ageing, there is still no feasible replacement for him, and his fighting qualities will be needed if we are to progress. In terms of other potential batsmen, the players currently on the A tour to Denmark have places available for them in the national team if they can prove their quality. Certainly, the team is far from decided.
I think that if we were to play each of the teams in our group today, we would come away with a win against Canada, a loss against New Zealand, and a tight loss against England. We have just over 8 months to find the players to make this two wins out of three. It will be a hard slog, but is definitely possible, especially if a couple of the youngsters start to fulfil their potential. Cricket Kenya are doing the right things in terms of getting the team plenty of international fixtures. What remains now is setting up a meaningful domestic league, so our best players can play each other when not on international duty. Then it is up to the players. Can we cause another upset at the World Cup? Assuredly. Will we? That remains to be seen.
Posted by Chemosit at 3:24 pm