Saturday, July 22, 2006
Kenya's team to play Canada in the Intercontinental Cup and two ODIs was announced by cricket Kenya yesterday and includes a couple of new caps along with seasoned veterans. Overall, the average age of the squad is 27, so no worries there. There are nine players recognised as batsmen in the squad, so hopefully the problems we have been having in terms of getting runs on the board will be a thing of the past. Roger Harper has certainly said he is happy with the way the batsmen have improved, so that is heartening.
One problem position has been that of the opening pair, and it looks like Kennedy Obuya will be brought in to reclaim at least one of those places. We really need him to find some form and give the rest of the line up a more solid foundation than they have been used to recently. His partner could be any of Brijal Patel, Hitesh Modi, Timothy Muange or even Tanmay Mishra. My feeling is that we will go with Patel after his century in the practice match.
With 5 spinners included, the mid and later overs should be tied up nicely, but I am slightly concerned that only 4 seamers are making the trip. I would expect Odoyo and Odhiambo to open with Ongondo at first change. Tony Suji's inclusion as the fourth seam option is strange, although no doubt we will hear he is also there for his batting. So long as he comes in down the order, I have no real problem with this, although I feel there are younger seamers who perhaps deserve this position as much and could offer more in the future.
Good to see a couple of new faces in the side. Both Hiren Variaya and Timothy Muange will earn their first caps should they play. Variaya gives us an out and out spin option and has impressed for the A team so far, so is no real surprise. Muange travels I would think as reserve wicket keeper, and also gives an option to open the batting. For my mind, he is not quite ready to take this step, and I would have liked to see him spend more time with the A team first. Hopefully, he will prove me wrong if he is needed and make the opener's spot his own.
Here are my thoughts player by player in my preferred batting order:
Kennedy Obuya: A welcome return for him. Kennedy needs to use his experience to provide some stability at the top of the order. He also need to keep his mouth shut and let his cricket do the talking. We cannot afford him to be dropped again, at least in the next year or two.
Brijal Patel: My pick to open with Obuya. Has shown some form for Kenya A recently, and backed it up with that century in practice. Also provides a part time spin option, though hopefully will not be needed too much. Is better than his averages indicate, but needs to prove this to those who have not seen him play and only look at scorecards.
Tanmay Mishra: I would really like to see him play higher up the order than he has. I feel this is where his play can cause most damage, and he will be under less pressure in terms of time. Due to make a big score for Kenya soon.
Steve Tikolo: The skipper will be a key player again for Kenya. Needs to make a big score or two with the bat and weigh in with the ball as well. He is currently far and away the top scorer in the Intercontinental Cup, let's hope he can add to that.
Hitesh Modi: Experienced and has the ability to hold things together should the top order falter. Cricinfo pointed some criticism at him as he has not made a fifty internationally for quite some time. What they omitted was his resilience in the last Intercontinental Cup match; that was worth several fifties. This time he will be able to hold the bat, so maybe time to get those runs.
Collins Obuya: Has really worked on his batting it seems. Just missed out on half centuries against Bangladesh, I would not be surprised if he gets one against Canada. There is still a question mark over how much of his bowling form he has recovered. I guess we shall see soon enough.
Thomas Odoyo: Kenya's Vice Captain is in good form with both bat and ball. Will open the bowling, and hopefully make some good inroads. Odoyo was the man of the match last time Kenya met Canada, and will no doubt be looking for more of the same.
Tony Suji: Will be the fourth seam option. Can be economical, but I don't expect to see him bowl too many overs. Is much better batting down the order where he can play his natural game. I would expect him to possibly make way for Kamande in the ODIs.
Peter Ongondo: Has been in great form for Kenya this year. He has taken a wicket in every match he has played in for Kenya, and has been one of the finds for us so far. Hopefully he can continue his form against Canada.
Hiren Variaya: Will be the first spin option for Kenya. Has done well with the A team, and deserves the chance to step up. A good thing for him he gets to make the transition gradually, facing Canada before he meets Bangladesh. It would be great if he can make his mark this tour.
Nehemiah Odhiambo: Has only played one ODI for Kenya so far - against Zimbabwe, and failed to make an impression then. He has since shown constant improvement, and like Variaya is in the squad on the back of consistent strong bowling for Kenya A. This is his chance to get amongst the wickets for the national team, and stake his claim for a permanent place.
Jimmy Kamande: Only the fact that Suji is a seam bowler keeps Jimmy out of my starting line up. If the decision is made on the better batsman, then include Kamande. May well come into the team for the ODIs.
Timothy Muange: I feel still a bit under done for international cricket. Has been improving, and posted some half way respectable scores for Kenya A. Better than the other options and, should he get a game, will have a perfect opportunity to make a name for himself.
Non Travelling Reserves:
Darshit Shah: Nairobi Gymkhana's young SLOW LEFT ARM MEDIUM PACE bowler (not leggie as I had previously - thanks to the Nation for that error). Have not seen him play or his figures, but he must have impressed Harper and the selectors to be included. Apparently he swings the ball quite a bit.
I would have liked to see either Gami or Kayne included here to encourage coast cricket (not neccessarily at the expense of Shah).
David Obuya: I'm not convinced on this. To my mind lacked what it takes when he played earlier this year, and I think there are other players who could do as well. He is a fantastic fielder however, and if Harper has been working on his batting, maybe he has improved enough to get another go.
Josephat Ababu: (Not Angara as I had previously (sorry) - hence a different write up is in order too). Ababu has played well for the A side and impressed in practice, so a fair choice. Still only 26, he has time ahead of him, but will need to take wickets more regularly for Kenya if he is to keep his place.
On the whole, I am confident in this team and believe they have what it takes to beat the Canadians. for those left out, there is always the NPCA league starting this weekend, so a good performance in that could still see them get a call up for Bangladesh if there is an injury, or someone doesn't live up to the selector's expectations. All the very best to the team. Safiri Salaama, and make us proud!
Posted by Chemosit at 10:23 am