Saturday, August 05, 2006
The recent loss to Canada in the Intercontinental Cup was all the more bitter as it came at the end of a thrilling four days of cricket. For Associate Cricket, and Canadian cricket in particular, it was a great success. For Kenyan cricket, it was a serious setback. Not only did we lose the match, but also further standing in the eyes of the rest of the World. In 4-day cricket, there is no way we can still claim to be one of the top Associates. Fifth would probably be closer to to it, behind Canada and the Europeans.
In One Day Internationals however, we do have a better record than the others and are the only Associate currently on the ICC ODI Rankings. Bear in mind that this position is based on our two wins over Zimbabwe this year rather on the semi-finals place in 2003's World Cup. There is plenty of speculation out there that some of the European sides would be able to get similar or even better results. Maybe so, but the difference is that we have actually done it. Our place reflects not only the performance of the team on the field, but also the hard work our administrators have done in securing the matches against Full members. It is a place that we must defend jealously. Winning against Canada today therefore is more important than just gaining revenge. It will stave off criticism and it will protect our position on the ladder, at least for the moment. Can we do it? Assuredly. Will we do it - that will depend.
There is no secret that Kenya's weak spot is our opening pair. In the Intercontinental Cup, they only managed 9 runs between them, and are one of the major reasons we came up short. Today's match will almost certainly see a change made. To my mind, Timothy Muange is about a year away from being ready to take the step up to the national team. Despite this, I see little choice for the selectors but to choose him to open the batting. Who he replaces is the question - there is no other opener in the squad. Kennedy Obuya made a pair in the I.C game, but Brijal Patel only made 9. Patel has been in better touch recently, but Obuya has shown his class in the past. Form they say is temporary, class permanent and for that reason I would prefer to see Kennedy get one more chance. He is a tough character and will need this to come to the fore as he would be without doubt batting for his career. I hope to see him come good, not just for himself, but because Kenya will need him over the next year. If he doesn't the selectors will have little choice but to look for someone else who can get runs at the top of the order.
I would also like to see a change made at number 3 with Tanmay Mishra coming in. He has been protected so far by coming in down the order, but needs to be given that chance to use his talent. A bit of a gamble with such a weak opening pair, but one that needs to happen at some stage. Tikolo should stay at his favoured 4, but Collins Obuya should come in at 5 followed by Modi at 6 and Kamande at 7 (in the team in place of Tony Suji). Odoyo has not been in great touch recently with the bat, so should move down to 8. Odhiambo at 9 gives us depth - he has been called by one of the other team members "a much better batsmen than people think...maybe even the next Odoyo, but better" Now that would be good! Ongondo at 10 is still capable of producing quick runs at the end of an innings which only leaves Variaya at 11 as a real tail ender. Provided the opening pair can hold out, we should have a strong batting line up.
Kenya's bowling attack will be lead by Odoyo and Ongondo. With Nehemiah Odhiambo firing on all cylinders after his 5 wicket haul in the I.C, the top three should provide 30 dangerous overs. Tikolo and Variaya will no doubt take the bulk of the spin overs, but Kamande will give extra variety and Collins Obuya or Hitesh Modi could be called on in if really needed.
Canada have made some surprising changes to their squad, and the inclusion of several players seen to be 'mates' with the selectors may not have helped team morale. None the less, they will have their tail's up after their win earlier in the week, so Kenya need to play at their best to ensure a win.
Not sure where will be doing live coverage. I know that Jonathan over at Canadian Cricket will be at the match and posting wickets and milestones from his mobile. No news from either Cricinfo or Cricket Europe. Canada Cricket Online had sporadic updates during the I.C so may also be worth checking out. The BBC seems at least to be interested, it has the match listed (as well as the ones from the European Championship) they may be the best bet. Finally, the ECB site doesn't have anything yet, but came good for the Kenya v Bangladesh matches, so could be worth a try.
Posted by Chemosit at 5:49 pm