Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kenyans Can be World Class

I found this report on Coastweek along with this photo of the victorious Under 15 team. The news is not the freshest, but it is good to see any report on the right moves being made. In regards to the photo and my previous post touching on ethnicity, how great to see a team made up of the three colours of Kenyans: Black, Brown and White. This is how it should be!

Ghai Aquitted

You have to be kidding. I am no expert on law - I leave that to the 'Old Man', and I don't want to run the risk of any legal action myself, but this leaves me mystified. Whatever the real reason, this is a bad result for Kenyan Cricket, but should now finally close the door on a dead era. It is time to move on. Ghai, and his regime should be forgotten, that is the best thing that can now happen.

Home Based or Overseas Based Players

My last post got caught up in the debate between aging versus young talent in the selection choice. In the letter to the nation, another daft concept was raised:
That Cricket Kenya should only pick home based players, and not those based overseas. The writer's view was that picking overseas players would somehow despirit those based in Kenya. He goes on to say that not only should overseas bases players be removed from the selection list, but all those who are not citizens. Leaving cricket aside for a moment, this sort of view would be more at home in Zimbabwe with Robert Mugabe, than in Kenya. If someone born in a different country wants to live in Kenya, call it home and play cricket for our National team, they should be welcomed, not shut out because of their ethnicity. This sort of view does no credit to the author, nor to the Nation for printing it. It should have no place in Kenya Cricket, and must not be countenanced.
Going back to cricket and the selection process. If I understand "Cricket Fan - Nairobi" correctly, he seems to be of the opinion that Kenya can afford to lose matches in the short term, simply in order to try to bring up to scratch local players. Leaving out foreign based players would almost certainly result in Kenya losing its matches - two of our top batsmen, Steve Tikolo and Maurice Ouma would miss out, and while there may be some talent back home, there is no way this gap could be filled. Apologies to The Castle, but someone please "Tell him he's dreaming!" Kenya can not afford to lose matches, especially not against teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. In fact, for the long term good of Kenyan Cricket, it is imperative that these matches be won. Zimbabwe are on the wane. Beating them will give us much needed points on the ODI table, and will show that the match we played against their 'A' team in October should actually have been classified as a full ODI. It is not much, but the ramifications of losing to them are not good. If Kenya lose to Zimbabwe, it will hardly encourage any of the better nations to want to play us in the future. Not a happy thought - we have already spent too long with this frame of mind prevalent to allow it to continue.
Beating Bangladesh is also more than a matter of pride. They are the closest we come to a traditional rival, but are also the team placed immediately above us in the table. Beating them will show we can still compete against the Test teams, and will provide reason for others to agree to take us on. I do not know how many matches Kenya needs to play to fully return to the ODI table, but three tours and nine matches, one would think would be more than enough, maybe even two tours and six matches. If we have won the majority of these, we will not only leapfrog Bangladesh on the table, but will overtake Zimbabwe as well. This will only be good for Kenyan Cricket.
There are reasons that players like Tikolo are based overseas. Firstly they are paid better than they would be in Kenya, and I agree, this is something for Cricket Kenya to work on. More importantly, they are seen by their clubs overseas as having the talent and skill to play for them. The reason other players are still in Kenya is because they are not seen in this light. Simplified logic perhaps, but leaving these players out of the team would deprive us of our best talent. Then there is the small matter of match fitness and game experience. The overseas based players are playing at a much more competitive level than those in Kenya. They are playing in professional leagues against players who have represented Test nations. In doing so, they are picking up valuable experience and skills that can be brought back to the domestic game in Kenya. This is a vital resource for Kenyan Cricket, do not let it go to waste due to misguided prejudice!

Youth versus Experience

Ok - time for a little bit of niggle. I have just finished reading this letter to the Nation Newspaper in response to this editorial, that unfortunately I had not found earlier, or I would have already commented. I will comment on the editorial first because, on the whole it does seem pretty much on the money. He is correct in saying that it must be a time for rebuilding, that there must be a National league, and that we must look to the future. He is correct in saying the time for excuses is over, and Cricket Kenya must knuckle down to hard graft. What annoys me are these two paragraphs:
"Players are so demoralised and so the coach's first task will be to give them a reason to play for Kenya again. Development work has stalled and there are very few young players coming through to replace the ageing group of senior players."
Then the conclusion to the article:
"... The selection of players for this tour will be an indication of whether Cricket Kenya has the courage to dump some of the over-the-hill players and pick young talent."
I have highlighted the two sentences that particularly irk me. If there are so few players coming through with the talent to replace the senior players, how exactly is Cricket Kenya meant to dump the 'over the hill' players and replace them with young talent? There is no point Kenya sending a young, but untalented team to get beaten. Yes we have to build for the World Cup and ahead, but this is not going to be done by getting losing the few matches we get to play.
Kenya has the talent and experience to beat both of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and I agree, young players need to be brought into the side. My problem is the assumption that just because a player is ageing, he is not fit for selection. Look at Shane Warne - very probably Australia's spinner for the World Cup, and Jayasuria's wonderful century on his return from injury. Both players will be 37 by the time the World Cup rolls around in the Windies, yet both will play pivotal roles for their countries. Australia, undoubtedly still the team to beat in ODIs have no qualms in selecting new International players who are getting towards or past 30. Experience counts.
That said, new players do need to be brought into the team to replace those who haven't performed. Alfred Luseno, as I mentioned in a previous post is a prime example, he is young, and is reported to have the skill to greatly benefit Kenya's bowling attack. Selection must be done on merit, with a mid-term view to the World Cup. If a player is going to be available to play in the West Indies, and has the talent, he should be picked in the side. If this means that a more junior player who has less talent misses out, then so be it. Kenya does not have the luxury with experimenting much with our line up. Of the senior players, we must pick those with proven records. Where the youngsters are selected, it should be at the expense of players who have not delivered in the past, not at the expense of the eldest. Winning and Losing can be as much a state of mind in cricket as talent. For this reason, we must have a balanced side with the experience of age blended with the fire of youth.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Who should be in the Kenya Squad

With Cricket Kenya today due to announce the squad to face Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in March, I thought it would be appropriate to put in my 2 bits.
Captain: Steve Tikolo - this is fairly obvious. He has the experience, tactics, leadership and skill, and will, I'm assuming still be around for the World Cup.
Other fairly automatic choices would be:
Kennedy Otieno, Martin Suji, Collins Obuya, Ravindu Shah (if he is fit) and Thomas Odoyo. Hitesh Modi would also make it despite memories of his tortured innings vs Canada at the last World cup.
The above players I feel are the cornerstone of Kenyan cricket at present, and could not justifiably be left out.
In regards to up-and-coming players I would like to see get a run, the three players who were at the training camp in RSA would probably be favorites. Nehemiah Ngoche, Alfred Luseno & Kalpesh Patel will all have benefited hugely from the experience, and for the camp to have had any point at all, they must now be allowed to translate that to International level. An added bonus from this is if Luseno has learnt to use his speed to good effect. Kenya's bowling line up desperately needs someone who can worry batsman with pace, and if reports are correct, he may well be our man.
Going on form in the recently concluded Twenty-20 series, Jimmy Kamande does come up as a possible batsman and part time bowler. However, despite good recent good form with the bat domestically, his past International record may count against him. Mepani also had a great Twenty-20 season, but I don't know enough about him (i.e is he a Kenyan or expat, how old etc), to really do more than put his name in the ring.
The Zimbabwe tour at the end of last year, and the Intercontinental matches also throw up a couple of names: Maurice Ouma is definitely a batsman with lots of potential, but needs to turn his starts into big innings. He has shown he can do it, but needs to make this a regular occurrence. If Ravindu is unavailable, he would almost certainly be picked to open alongside Otieno. Bowlers from these events provoke a bit of a conundrum. Apart from Tikolo and Odoyo, the next best form these tours would probably be Ongondo or Onyango, but while both returned good results in some matches, they could also be a bit wayward. That said, both probably did enough to prompt a go ahead of Ababu, despite the latter's recent form in Twenty-20.
Rageb Aga is a player we have not seen enough of recently, and should make it into the squad, although hopefully he will not be used higher up the order again!
While the above players would be my most likely picks, there are plenty of others the selectors can choose to add depth, youth or experience to the side.
More on this later, but for now I need to get to an Australia Day BBQ - Got to keep the friends and Mrs happy!

A positive sign for the future

I was alerted to this article by Will's post on BTTW.
It is great to see such enthusiasm for the game in Ireland, and bodes well for the rest of the Associates when hosting ODIs against the Test teams. One of Kenya Crickets challenges over the next year is to get the same results back home. This will need an aggressive marketing campaign to attract the public to the game, but I believe is certainly possible. Ireland have also done well in promoting the fixture well in advance. This is admittedly more difficult for Kenya cricket in that there are no home fixtures against top teams confirmed as yet, but it will be a good example to follow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Harper to meet the players

Well, it seems Bangladesh have officially confirmed the March Tour according to Tom Tikolo, so it will be all systems go once new coach Roger Harper meets the players on Thursday. Apparently, the actual selection of the squad will not take place until after, so it will be interesting to see who he meets, and also who will make up the squad.
One of Andy Moles reported problems was that he didn't see eye to eye with some of the senior players, which incidentally seems to have followed him to Scotland.

Kenya to host Zimbabwe

Again, we wait full confirmation of this report from cricinfo with crossed fingers, toes and anything else that might help. A possible stumbling block may be the player talks in Zim over their outstanding wages if this report from the BBC is anything to go by. If things do go as planned, what a fantastic start to the year, and new Kenya Cricket organisation it would be for both the home series vs Zimbabwe, and the away one in Bangladesh to go ahead. This is what Kenya cricket has been crying out for now for so long. Congratulations to the new administration for this step - now all they have to do is get it confirmed, and select a winning team...

News from Uganda

Well, courtesy of Tony Munro and BTTW, we now know what the neighbours are doing. In terms of regional development, this is a heartening report, but could also be a cause for concern to Kenya. One fact alone must be rectified: Uganda qualifying for the U19 World Cup at Kenya's expense. It has happened the last two times, and if we want to make excuses, we can blame the last administration for bungling development. Whatever the cause though, Kenya must get it's development up to scratch. Our U15s did us proud earlier this month, and this success has to be built on. Kenya can not afford to miss out on qualifying for any tournament at an International level. The experience is too important to miss out on.
The other idea that occurred to me was how about the officials in the region coming up with a regional super cup featuring the best 2 teams or so from each country? Just a thought, but it surely couldn't do any harm, and sponsors would probably jump at it.

Monday, January 23, 2006


His First Class record may not have been much to write home about, but I was very surprised when I found his name listed on Cricinfo. I had always known he was a keen cricketer, and had played extensively as a young man before his 'duties to the Empire' took over. I did not know him that well, being only 18, and him having spent the last years of his life fighting alzheimer's. I do remember 'Dev' ,as he was known, sitting on a rocking chair playing marbles with me when I was very small - I was on the floor, and he was rolling them around with his feet. I wish I had been old enough then to ask him about his cricketing days, but I guess that was never to be. In the obituaries when he died, most people remembered the work he did as a Govenor for Mauritius (there is I'm told still a bridge there named after him - "the longest bridge in the Indian Ocean"), and in the West Indies. It is nice that he is still remembered as a cricketer, even if his best scores are not.

Swamibapa win Twenty-20 crown

Swamibapa remain the team to beat in Kenya Cricket, as their 'A' team defeats Nairobi Jafferies 'A' for the NPCA Twenty-20 crown. While the result was, perhaps, not unexpected, what is good is to see the bowlers dominating. Kenya cricket has often relied on batting to get it out of trouble, so it is great to see that, even though they were on the losing side, two of Kenya's top bowlers are continuing to perform. It is only Twenty-20, but seeing Collins Obuya and Thomas Odoyo returning figures of 3 for is heartening stuff. Jimmy Kamande too seems to be on the comeback trail not only hitting a half centruy with the bat, but also joining the 3 for brigade for Swamibapa with Ababu. Slightly dissapointing, other than Kamande was the batting, but there is still a month to go before the Bangladesh tour, so Roger Harper has time to work with whoever the selectors pick.

Welcome Kenya Cricket: Dawning of a New Era

It is finally official. KCA and the era of mismanagement, greed, and the near total destruction of the game in Kenya, has gone. It took some time coming - many of us hoped it would happen a couple of years ago, but the main thing is we can now move forward. Yesterday's meeting in Mombasa was attended by delegates from all four provinces, and the decision was unanimous.
Under Cricket Kenya, the board should find it much easier to attract sponsorship, especially in view of upcoming matches. Until now, Samir Inamdar seems to have been severely hampered by the KCA tag, and the efforts to change it. Now that it is done, it is time to start ringing the changes in a major way. Bring on board the sponors we have been told are waiting in the wings. Start a national league. Get the schools program going. Organise internationals, even if they are only against the other Associates. Yesterdays decision was a great start to a new era, but it was just that, a start. Now the real work begins.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Warney and Neighbours

Again, nothing to do with Kenyan Cricket, but this was too good to resist. Not content with Real Life soap that is his life, Shane Warne is now going to star in Neighbours. This poses the question, who else will we see follow suite, and to which shows? Some of my favourites would be:
  • Glen McGrath - RAN (as a rogue pig hunter).
  • Shabbir Ahmed - Lost (sorry - I have a warped sense of humour).
  • Dale Steyn - Backyard Blitze.
  • The Zimbabwe Cricket Board - The Biggest Loser.