Saturday, February 25, 2006

Zimbabwe restrict Kenya to 228

Kenya won the toss this morning and elected to bat. Fielding a strong bowling line up, but one a bit weak in batting, Kenya were relying on their top batsmen to come good. Maurice Ouma opened the batting with Kennedy Otieno Obuya, but fell for a tortured 3 off 15 with the score on 35 to give Zimbabwe a good start. Tony Suji joined Obuya at the crease, and added 25 off 50, as Kenya built a second wicket partnership of 85 runs, before Suji fell to P.Rinke, caught by the captain, Duffin. Kenya then proceeded to lose wickets at regular intervals, with Obuya (84) and Tikolo (23) soon joining the others back in the pavilion. Thomas Odoyo showed why he should be used further up the order with a fighting run-a-ball 46, but he was offered little support by Tanmay Mishra - run out for 4, and Brijal Patel, caught for a duck. Jimmy Kamande did offer some resistance with a quick 15 runs, but in the end, Kenya simply lost too many wickets to post a good total. The annoying thing is that none of the Zimbabwe bowlers particularly excelled. H Masakadza was the pick with 2-26, but Kenya should have done better. This was not the start we were hoping for against an inexperienced team, and having won the toss. In reply, Zimbabwe are currently 69 for no loss, with Rinke looking particularly dangerous on 41 off 42. Hopefully, Kenya can come up with some wickets soon, or this will be an embarrasing result. The match is being updated live at
Update 1.
Ongondo bowls Rinke for 42. Zimbabwe are now at 1-86, and their run rate has dropped to 4.8 per over. Considering they only need 4.6 an over, and have wickets in hand they are still looking strong, but a glimmer of hope at least. I have to say, I'm not that happy with the team selected for this match. Luseno has been billed as a strike bowler - where is he? Why did Suji come in at 3? Why are both Brijal and Jimmy Kamande playing. Hopefully the result will bear this out, but otherwise there better be some changes for the next match.
Update 2.
Duffin has his 50. Things are not looking good for Kenya at this stage. After 25 Overs, Zimbabwe going along at 5 an over: 1-126. Ababu and Ngoche are proving expensive. Kamande into the attack. Lets hope the spin can do something!
Duffin run out for 53, but Zimbabwe in cruise mode at 5 an over.
2-185 after 34. We need someone to pull out 8-44 in the next 16 overs. This is not a good enough display. Kenya has to find some firepower in the bowling department or we will be in for a very tough series.

Kenya 2006 Squad Profiles

UPDATED 09/05/06
Some brief profiles of the players in the Kenya squad. They are compiled from my own knowledge, private sources, Cricinfo, The Nation and Standard archives, BBC, Test Match Stats, and other random reports from google searches. Links on the player name should take you to their stats page on Cricinfo. As players are added to the squad, I shall try to keep it updated.

Steve Tikolo (Captain).
Born June: 25, 1971, Nairobi.

Bats: Right handed.
Bowling style Right-arm off-spin.

Kenya's captain should need little introduction. Viewed by many as the best batsman outside of Test cricket, Steve averages 52.75 in first class cricket with a top score of 220, and along with Kennedy Otieno, is one of the few Kenyan players to have scored a century in an ODI. He also scored Kenya's first ever half century way back in the 1996 World cup against India. Since then, he has been the mainstay of Kenya's batting line-up, and took over from Maurice Odumbe as Captain of the national side in 2002-3. A wily captain, he is also Kenya's top spinner at present, at least until Collins Obuya can retrieve his form. Yet to take 5 wickets in an innings, he is never the less crucial to restricting the opposition during the middle overs of a match, and this played a large part in the success of the 2003 World Cup. At 34 he is the older statesman of the side, but do not expect Tikolo to be retiring any time soon. He is one of the few Kenyan players who has experienced professional cricket in various countries, and his experience in guiding the youngsters in Kenya's team will be almost as important as him leading the way with the bat. As well as being a great cricketer, he is also a great bloke. March on Steve Tikolo, you are one of Kenya's true sporting heroes!
This year, Steve has had differing form for Kenya. In Zimbabwe, he only really had one good innings, but his 98 in the second match was what won it for Kenya. In Bangladesh, he only played in 3 of the four matches due to a nasty virus, and left the best for last, scoring 81. He continued this good form when Kenya hosted Holland in the Intercontinental Cup a few days later. Kenya were in trouble after a mammoth first innings by the Dutch, but Tikolo pulled off one of the great escape acts of Kenyan cricket with an unbeaten 212. He made sure Kenya avoided the follow on, and in doing so saved the match. Earlier, he captaincy did come under some question with the bowling rotation, but his wonderful innings more than made up for that. He is now the first batsman to make it past 1000 runs in the competition, and by a considerable margin.
Thomas Odoyo (Vice Captain).
Born: May 12, 1978, Nairobi.
Bats: Right handed.
Bowls: Right-arm medium-fast
ODI debut India v Kenya at Cuttack - Feb 18, 1996

Thomas made his ODI debut against India in the 1996 World Cup as a 17 year old, and has been one of the most important players in the Kenyan side ever since. While his bowling has consistently improved over the years, Thomas still has yet to fully realise his potential as a batsman, having only made 3 fifties in 70 ODI innings. That said, he did for a while share a World Record partnership of 119 with Tony Suji against Zimbabwe, so can be very useful. I believe he should be used more higher up the order, as he is often wasted coming in lower down. He will almost certainly be one of Kenya's key players during the rest of the year, and should further add to his haul of 74 One-Day wickets (12 from 9 matches so far in 2006).
Thomas made a good start to the year with a run-a-ball 54 in the first match in Zimbabwe. Since then, he has struggled a bit with the bat despite a few starts. He has continued to work hard with the new ball, and was been rewarded by the man of the match award in the 3rd ODI against Zimbabwe. Thomas was somewhat dissapointing in the Intercontinental match vs Holland, but will no doubt bounce back.
Josephat Ababu
Born: April 15th 1980 in Kakamega, Western Kenya.
Bats: Right handed.
Bowls: Right Arm Fast Medium.

Josephat has been in and out of the Kenyan team ever since an explosive start to his international career, when he bowled Neil Johnson of Zimbabwe for 16 with his first ever ball. Unfortunately, he has only played 2 other ODIs until the Zimbabwe series, and was yet to take another wicket at International level. He has a fluid delivery, and is yet to live up to the promise he showed at junior level when he took 7 wickets for Kenya at an average of 32.43.
His selection in the squad to Zimbabwe gave him another chance to show what he can do, but unfortunately he was unable to capitalise taking only 1 wicket in 3 matches and conceding 5.5 an over. His selection was in no doubt partly due to his performance for Swamibapa in the recent NPCA Main League where he took 13 wickets at an average of 12.46 for a miserly 2.79 runs an over. International cricket is a very different kettle of fish, and after the Zimbabwe tour he was again dropped from the side. With a good crop of youngsters knocking on the door, it might be a while before we again see Josephat back in the side.
Born: November 22, 1984, Bhuj, India
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Medium.
Like Ashish Karia, Rajesh was recalled to the National side for the Intercontinental match against Holland after a strong showing against them for Kenya A. He is a tidy medium pacer, and showed why he was selected in Holland's second innings when he bowled 8 overs, 6 maidens and took 1 wicket for 5 runs. One of the youngsters in the side, expect to see more of Rajesh over the next few years. Hopefully, Steve Tikolo and the Kenyan selectors see fit to give him more overs in future matches.
Born December 12, 1978, Muranga
Bats: Right Handed.
Bowls: Right-Arm Off Breaks
ODI debut Kenya v Zimbabwe at Taunton - May 15, 1999

Jimmy Kamande is one of the better fielders I have had the good luck to watch. For that reason alone, I am glad to see him in the squad. As a batsman, Jimmy has never really been able to make his mark in ODIs, but has showed some good fight so far this year, though still been unable to convert his starts. As a bowler, Kamande has the misfortune to have his bowling action called into question, and has missed out on several of Kenya's squads as a result. Now bowling more off-spin than medium pace, his action is hopefully fixed, and he will give Kenya a useful all-round option. He has had mixed results so far with the ball, and may not have done quite enough to make sure of his place. At 27, Jimmy still has some years left if he can cement his place with good performances this year. but is old enough that, should he fail, he may well lose out to the new crop of players coming through.
Born December 20, 1981, Kakemaga
Bats: Right Handed.
Bowls: Right Arm Fast.
Only ODI Kenya v Sri Lanka at Sharjah - Apr 6, 2003

Andy Moles, who coached Alfred in the South Africa youth camp, regards him as a bowler with the potential to dismiss batsmen from full member countries on a regular basis. He is one of Kenya's only genuine pace bowlers, and can move the ball as well. Unfortunatley, Alfred has not yet lived up to the expectations and had indifferent tours of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. As a result, he was left out of the squad to face Holland, which could possibly have been a better hunting ground for him. It is likely that Alfred will get a bit of a run for the A team this year which may give him the experience and confidence to make the step back to the national team. Kenya still expects a lot from him, so lets hope he can find that spark that Andy Moles was talking about soon!
Born: June 4, 1986, Mombasa
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Medium-Fast
Not quite 20, Asish is certainly one of the Kenyan players of the future. Selected for the Intercontinental match against Holland after a strong bowling effort for Kenya A, Ashish had to wait an inexplicably long time before being thrown the ball. By the time he got his opportunity, the game was already slipping away from Kenya. He wasted no time, and was straight into the wickets taking out first Tim de Leede and then Centurion Ryan ten Doeaschate in quick succession. Again, he had to wait in the second innings, and again removed De Leede. Hopefully this performance will mean that he gets more of a chance in the future. One of the few players from Mombasa to make it into the national side, he is an example of the talent available aroung Kenya once a proper grassroots structure is set up. Look forward to seeing more of this young man in the future.
Born: December 22, 1986, Mumbai, India
Bats: Right Handed.

At 19, Mishra was the youngest of the players in Kenya's touring squad to Zimbabwe. He is also one of the more exciting prospects for Kenya's future. Yet to debut in an ODI, and only having played 2 first class matches for an average of 8.50, one would be forgiven for wondering why he was in the squad at all. The reason is he has plenty of talent, and it is likely that one day he will be a key batsman for Kenya. So far this year, he has been one of the few players who has really rewarded the selectors for choosing him. His ODI debut didn't get off to a great start, being run out for 5, but he has since got into the fourties three times and the thirties once. Twice he has got out trying for his fifty, and once he gets that monkey off his back, he will no doubt go on to make some big scores. Selected for strong form in the domestic league, he has the ability to see off the new ball and go on to make big totals. Unfortunately, he has so far been used too low in the order, so has had to bat under pressure when the top order failed. If he gets given a chance higher up, he could develop into a really useful number 3 or 4. In the Intercontinental Cup, he came in at 5 after Hitesh Modi was injured. Sadly, he only scored 16, but it is early days still for Tanmay Mishra, so watch this space!
Born: 1971
Bats: Left Handed
Bowl: Occasional Off Break
Hitesh Modi was recalled to the Kenya squad this year for the tour of Bangladesh, having missed out on the Zimbabwe tour due to being out of the country (Cricket Kenya cannot yet afford to fly players back from overseas). His recall was welcome as he is one of the more experienced players in the team, and is a welcome boost to the batting line-up. After an intitial stutter in the first match, the rest of the Bangladesh tour he proved to be steady without setting the matches on fire. Unfortunately for both Hitesh and Kenya, he broke his finger early on in the Intercontinental match against Holland, so was not able to bat to his true potential in that match. He did however bat one-handed right at the end of the innings when Kenya were trying to avoid the follow on. This unselfish act meant Tikolo was able to pass that mark, and Kenya saved the match. Modi only scored 5 runs, but they were possible the most important of his career for Kenya. Hitesh currently plies his trade in England where he captains his club side Chesham. Hopefully, Cricket Kenya, or sponsors will pay to have him flown back for future internationals as he is much needed in the Kenyan batting line-up at the moment.
Born: 1984
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Medium-Fast

One of the 3 players sent to the Youth Training Camp in South Africa, Ngoche is still a bit of an unknown force. Little is known about him other than the facts that he has pace, and can swing the ball. He has been tipped as one of the future mainstays of Kenya's bowling attack, so we shall watch with interest how he performs. So far this year, he has not really been given a real chance. He only got 4 overs in the first match against Zimbabwe, and has been left out since.
Born: July 27, 1981, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed
Bowl: Right Hand Leg Break.
One of the heroes of Kenya's 2003 World Cup success, Collins has been having trouble recently regaining the form that saw him take 5-24 against Sri Lanka in that tournament. He has been to Australia and had coaching from none other than Terry Jenner to try to sort out the problem, but there is still some way to go. If he can get back to his best, he is capable of troubling even the best batsmen, and may yet prove to be a vital player for Kenya over the next few years. No slouch with the bat, he scored 45 twice against Bangladesh when he was recalled to the team for the last two games, so would be a useful player indeed for Kenya if his bowling can come good. Part of his poor form is due to a couple of years plagued by injury (he missed most of the season he was contracted to Warickshire), so hopefully, this is now behind him and he can get back to taking wickets for Kenya.
Born: August 14, 1979, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed

With 23 ODIs under his belt going into Zimbabwe, David does have some experience playing for Kenya. While he has not to date shown any great results - he averages 11.7 with a high score of 57. Fairly successful on the previous visit to Zimbabwe, a good domestic season has paved the way for his recall to the side. One of the players in the squad who I feel needs to step up, or face a future watching from the stands. For a while, he was tipped as Kenya's next wicket Keeper, but with the rise of Ouma he has had to find himself a place as a fielder, something to which he has adapted well. While he did not produce any great performances in either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, and is a slow starter, he was no worse than any of Kenya's other openers. For this reason, he may called upon again, but will need to improve his technique if he is to survive on the international stage.

Kennedy Otieno Obuya.
Born: March 11, 1972, Nairobi
Bats: Right handed Wicket keeper
ODI debut: India v Kenya at Cuttack - Feb 18, 1996

At 33, and having played 71 ODIs to date, Kennedy is on of Kenya's most experienced players, and good performances from him will be vital if Kenya are to rise again in World cricket. He has an impressive resume against the top nations, having scored centuries against both Australia and Bangladesh, and was instrumental in Kenya reaching the Semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup where he scored half centuries against Sri Lanka and India. Most recently, Kennedy has been in Australia where he spent some time under the tutelage of wicket keeping guru Rod Marsh. He says that this time in Australia has improved all aspects of his game, and came good with 2 half centuries against Zimbabwe, both when Kenya were up against the wall. Unfortunately, he had a nightmare tour to Bangladesh and was dropped for the last game as well as the Intercontinental Cup game vs Holland. This caused him to threaten to never again play for Kenya. Hopefully, he can be persuaded to change his mind on this, as I still feel he has a lot to offer. One of the few Kenyan batsmen who has realised his ability to make big scores, Kenya will need his class over the next year as they consolidate their return to International cricket. Without him, Kenya's top order struggled against Holland, and he is a class above the other openers currently available.
Born: February 10, 1977, Nairobi, Kenya
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right Arm Fast-Medium
ODI debut Kenya v South Africa at Nairobi (Gym) - Sep 30, 1999

Without doubt, the find of the year for Kenya. Prior to the Zimbabwe tour, Peter Ongondo had played 22 ODI matches for Kenya in total and taken a total of 7 wickets. At the time I wrote "At first, he would seem a surprising pick for this tour. A closer look at his First class record shows he has greater potential however, and he realised this on the last tour to Zimbabwe. He appears to enjoy the conditions in Harare, and picked up two of his best hauls on the tour: 4-33, and 4-31. Coupled with one of the more successful averages in the NPCA domestic competition, it is easy to see why the selectors decided to give him a further go. Picked primarily as a bowler, he does have the ability to hit the ball hard with the bat, and can get some quick runs at the end of an innings. Zimbabwe's pitches are not ideal for batting, and Ongondo should be aiming to add considerably to his ODI wickets over the next couple of weeks."
How true this proved to be! Ongondo has taken a wicket in every match Kenya have played this year, and now has much more impressive figures of 25 wickets at an average of around 33. His figures this year in ODIs are 56.5 Overs, 259 Runs, 18 wickets at an average of 14.39, strike rate of 18.9 and economy of 4.56.
This is an incredible improvement and if he can keep it up, he will be a crucial bowler for Kenya over the next couple of years. Peter has also continued to prove useful with the bat for Kenya, often adding respectability at the end of an innings when the top order have failed. Especially remarkable was his tenacity in hanging around long enough for Tikolo to save the match in the Intercontinental cup. Completely against character, he faced 156 balls for his 37 and without his effort, Kenya would have been in real trouble and facing the follow on. Keep up the great efforts Peter!

Maurice Ouma
Born: November 8, 1982, Kiambli
Bats: Right Handed
Wicket keeper
ODI debut: India v Kenya at Southampton - Sep 11, 2004

At 23, and only having played a handful of ODIs for Kenya so far, Maurice is one of the newer players in the Kenyan team. In the last couple of years, he has shown his potential for Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup, and the tour to Zimbabwe at the end of 2005. Rated by Hossain Ayob, the ICC's development manager for Africa as a star in the making in 2004, he has yet to fully realise his potential, but that may be due to lack of matches. With a busy couple of months at the beginning of 2006, he had his chance to make a mark, but sadly failed to produce. If he is to become the player Kenya need at the top of the order, he must turn his frequent starts into big scores, something that has so far mostly eluded him. His best score so far is 78 against Zimbabwe in the 2005 tour, and Kenya will want more of the same if he is to keep his spot. As Kennedy Otieno nears retirement in a couple of years, Ouma seems to be the most obvious potential replacement for him as wicket keeper, and was chosen as first choice for the Intercontinental match against Holland. This move seemed to backfire on the selectors as Maurice failed again, only scoring 10. As one of the better youngsters currently on offer, he will probably get another chance, but has to start getting the runs if he is going to be a long term prospect.

Brijal Patel
Born November 14, 1977, Nairobi
Bats: Left Handed
Bowls: Slow left-arm orthodox

Brijal Patel's inclusion in the side to tour Zimbabwe came as a surprise to many. Initially left out of even the provisional squad, he was called into the nets to provide the batsman practice against left arm bowling. He impressed, and so earned his recall to the team. A poor international record so far - only one 50 from 60 odd innings, means that this year will probably be Patel's last chance to perform for Kenya. I have seen him play, and he has a much better technique and temperament than his figures indicate. He is also a superb fielder, and has probably improved even more under Roger Harper. He has only taken a few wicket with over 1000 odd balls internationally, so again, in terms of bowling, Patel needs to come good or face being replaced. He is a fighter, so it was a shame to see him fall cheaply against Holland. Brijal is right on the edge of the squad at the moment, and will probably feature in the A team tour to Denmark rather than be a first choice for the national team.
Born: July 18, 1985, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed.
Bowls: Right Arm Medium.

One of the three Kenyans to benefit from the youth training camp in RSA, Kalpesh Patel is an exciting prospect for Kenyan cricket. A fantastic fielder, he is also very quick between the wickets as a batsman, and will be useful as a middle order player to keep the run rate rattling along. Kalpesh also has the ability to reverse swing the ball, and could develop into a very useful batting all-rounder. Only 20, he has a long time ahead of him playing for Kenya, and his progress shall be watched with interest over the coming years. Andy Moles who coached him in South Africa and praised his temperament and team spirit, regards him very highly. He has not really been given a proper chance this year. Taken on the Zimbabwe tour, he returned home unused - criminal considering the performance of some of the other players he could have replaced. Finally getting a chance against Bangladesh, he made a duck in the second match and for some reason was only bowled for 2 overs. He played the third match, but was again under utilised. 12th man against Holland, he did not get a real chance in that game, so we must continue to wait and see what Kalpesh can do for Kenya. Hopefully more faith will be shown in the youngsters over the course of the year.
Tony Suji
Born: February 5, 1976, Nairobi
Bats: Right Handed
Bowls: Right-arm medium
ODI debut Kenya v Pakistan at Nairobi (AK) - Oct 2, 1996

Tony Suji has always been a bit of an enigma to fans of Kenyan cricket. He has never really performed well enough to cement a position in the side, but always does just enough to get selected when a tour comes along. His best performance with the bat was his century against Bermuda in the semi-finals of the Intercontinental Cup last year, and he is reported to have been working more on his batting than bowling. As his bowling has never really impressed, so his improvement with the bat may have been what got him selected. He does have 50 odd ODIs behind him, so experience could count for a lot.
Tony has been used alot at the top of the order this tour, and had again done just enough to keep the selectors persisting with what I consider a serious mistake. Later on in the order, Suji has the potential to play some useful innings, but he does not have the technique to score quickly at the top of the order in one day matches. This has been borne out by his fourth match effort in Bangladesh where he scored a quickfire 30 off 22. His efforts at number 3 generally resulted in a run rate around 50% - not nearly fast enough in the current one day game. There is definitely a place for Tony Suji in Kenya's squad over the next year or so, but lets hope the selectors now pick him lower down the order where he can actually do some damage.

Kenya vs. Zimbabwe First ODI Preview

Kenya take on Zimbabwe today at the Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo in their much awaited return to International cricket. Martin Williamson in his preview on Cricinfo comments on the disinterest on this series and lack of attention it is getting. My reply to this is why have visits to my site over the last few days tripled, with most hits from search engines being along the lines of "Kenya vs Zimbabwe"? True, there is not the hype that would normally surround a cricket tour, but the interest is still there.
Most previews have mentioned the gulf in experience between the two sides. For the first time in history, Kenya goes into a tie with a more experienced team than their opponent. It sounds like we also have a much more cohesive unit than Zimbabwe, who are reported to be suffering more ructions over the choice of Terry Duffin as captain. All this is good for Kenya, and will stand us in good stead. On the flip side, as Williamson points out, Zimbabwe cannot afford to lose this series. Always be wary of a team with their back to the wall. Kenya's flight to Zimbabwe was also delayed by 9 hours in Nairobi, and they lost most of their nets session yesterday to rain. Hardly ideal preparation. Williamson does not make a prediction for the series citing the number of unknowns in the equation.

In the Nation, Richard Mwangi's article focuses more on the lack of spinners in Kenya's attack for what is supposedly a spinner's wicket. He goes on to give his ideas on the make up of the team:

"Kenya's batting lineup will be spearheaded by the veteran opening batsman Kennedy Obuya who like Tikolo is one of the most experienced players in the side. He is expected to share the wicket with Morris Ouma or his younger brother, David.
Patel is likely to play one down and is expected to be followed by Tikolo, Tony Suji, Thomas Odoyo, Jimmy Kamande, Josephat Ababu, Peter Ong'ondo, Tanmey Mishra, Nehemiah Odhiambo and Kalpesh Patel.
The bowling attack will be led by Luseno, Ong'ondo, Odoyo, Odhiambo, Ababu, Tikolo, Kamande, Patel, Suji, Mishra and Kalpesh"

Kennedy to open, is a fairly obvious choice, and I hope that Ouma, who I believe has the potential to do well for Kenya in this spot, partners him. While Brijal Patel has come in at first drop for Kenya in the past, I think the youngster, Mishra coming in at three, would better serve us. He has shown the ability to cope with the new ball should there be an early wicket, and has the potential to make big scores. Tikolo should keep his position at four - he is comfortable there, and able to turn it on in the middle overs. At 5 and 6, I am split between Odoyo and David Obuya. Obuya is more a specialised batsman, but Odoyo is the more dangerous of the two. I believe he would be better used at 5 rather than lower down the order. At 7 I would have another all-rounder, Brijal Patel, just over Jimmy Kamande. Despite the pitch, I find it difficult to see both of them in the team. It is a tough choice as both are excellent fielders, and have potential with the bat, though they are both at a make or break stage. I go for Patel, as he is a leftie, and has obviously been impressing in the nets to make the squad. He must perform however, or it is time for a replacement. Kalpesh Patel at 8, again as an all-rounder. He is a compact batsman, and has the ability to swing the ball as a bowling option. Of the bowlers, I would like to see Peter Ongondo for his experience, and then 2 out of the youngsters. Probably Luseno and Ngoche (Odhiambo), as they are reputedly the two quickest. Toni Suji would be the all-rounder I would pick as supersub, if one is to be used.

In Summary, my choice for the eleven to take the field:
1.Kennedy Obuya (wkt).
2.Maurice Ouma.
3.Tanmay Mishra.
4.Steve Tikolo (Capt.).
5.Thomas Odoyo (V.Capt).
6.David Obuya.
7.Brijal Patel.
8.Kalpesh patel.
9.Peter Ongondo
10.Alfred Luseno.
11.Nehemiah Ngoche.
12th man/Super sub: Tony Suji.

This line up gives us batting down to 9, two quick bowlers, 3 other seamers and two spinners. It has experience, plus youth, and should be enough to give Zimbabwe serious trouble. My pick for the result: I have to go Kenya, or I would be a traitor to this site. How much by is difficult to pick without knowing more about the opposition. We comprehensively beat a more experienced line up at the end of last year. We should be able to win today.
Kenya team from:
Steve Tikolo (captain), Thomas Odoyo (vice-captain), Brijal Patel, Kennedy Obuya, Tony Suji, Peter Ong'ondo, Josephat Ababu, David Tikolo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Alfred Luseno, Morris Ouma, Kalpesh Patel, Jimmy Kamande, Tanmay Mishra
Zimbabwe team from:
Terrence Duffin (capt), Elton Chigumbura, Keith Dabengwa, Ryan Higgins, Anthony Ireland, Blessing Mahwire, Hamilton Masakadza, Keegan Meth, Waddington Mwayenga, Edward Rainsford, Piet Rinke, Gregory Strydom, Brendan Taylor and Prosper Utseya

Friday, February 24, 2006

Further to my post on the Associates members ODI program, I found this very interesting article on Cricinfo. Kenya and Scotland to play one away series and one Home series against a Full member each year, now that is moving in the right direction! I wonder, does two away series this year mean we will miss out on one at home? I hope not, as home matches will be very important in spreading interest in the game throughout Kenya. If Kenya are going to be hosting matches, this would be a prime opportunity to play at least one in Mombasa, provided of course that the grounds are brought up to standard. I believe the MSC are working on this. These developments are definitely to be praised, but still need to go further. It is one thing to say that matches will be given to the Associates, but as we have seen in the past with Kenya, it is quite another thing for them to actually happen. So far, the ICC have done a great job in setting up the beginning of the year, but it would be nice to see ALL of the Test teams actually getting on board and PLAYING, not just hosting matches for the Associates.

A Response To Those who Advocate Removing International Status From Countries

I was spurred into this by a post on Big Cricket, saying Zimbabwe should be removed from International Status. Ricky Pontings recent comments also got under my skin, especially as he was last year saying how the spread of the game should be increased. Cross posted on Big Cricket:
All teams should play international cricket. There is now a promotion/relegation system that allows the Associate and Affiliate members to move up or down the tiers/grades depending on their performance. It would be a very small step to include the full members in that system for ODIs: Instead of all Test nations automatically qualifying for the World Cup, only the top 10 ranked nations qualify automatically (like the Champions Trophy now). The rest have to go through the ICC Trophy to qualify. If a team like Zimbabwe slips enough in the rankings, or an Associate, such as Kenya rises above them, this is only fair.
Similarly with Test status: At the end of the Intercontinental Cup, the winner plays off against the lowest ranked Test nation in say a three match Test series hosted by the Test nation. The winner joins the Test calendar (taking over the existing fixtures if it is the Associate), the loser returns to the Intercontinental cup. That way, standards are maintained, but there is the incentive for the Associates.
This is not rocket science. There are precedents in several other sports, for example Davis Cup tennis. It would not be hard to implement, and would put pressure on teams to not only improve their standards, but to maintain them. It would also prevent people who should know better making daft comments that do not help cricket.

Associate members's ODI Program

The ICC have released a list of all the ODI matches to be played by the Associate members between now, and the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. I pinched the link courtesy of Bensti's post on Big Cricket where he points out that there should also be a match between Kenya and Holland before their Intercontinental match. I believe this will be on either Sunday 26th or Monday 27th March after the team arrive back from Bangladesh. There is unfortunately no mention of the rumoured tour by Kenya to Pakistan later in the year. Good to see so many matches between the Associates, but there still need to be more played between them and the full members, and those on the ranking's. If Kenya can have a good showing in Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, the Irish and Scots play well against England and Pakistan, or Holland against Sri Lanka, this will put pressure on the full members to include the Associates in more series. I would like to see the full members take the step of including Associates in tri, or quad series when they are hosting other Test teams. It would do wonders for improving the standard of the game, and I believe most crowds would still come to watch, especially as the Associates became more competitive.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bangladesh Win Good For World Cricket

Bangladesh's 4-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Bogra is a great result for World Cricket. While officially a Test team, Bangladesh are still regarded by many as a minnow in cricket terms. Any time such a team has a victory over a higher placed team, it benefits cricket as a whole. Last year they beat Australia, this year Sri Lanka. Things are definitely on the way up for the Tigers, and other developing cricket nations can take heart from this win. Give the minnows more games, and they will start to win a greater percentage. I will not go further into it, as I don't want to stoke their confidence too much ahead of the Kenya tour, but well-done Bangladesh. Now all we need is for Kenya to follow suit in Zimbabwe.

Tikolo Confident Ahead Of Zimbabwe Tour

Kenya's long serving captain, Steve Tikolo was yesterday talking up Kenya's chances against Zimbabwe before the team boarded their flight for Harare. With Kenya likely to face several of the players selected in Zimbabwe 'A's loss to Kenya last November, and more of their experienced players missing, Tikolo was upbeat about putting on a good show:

"If we are going to play the same team we met last year, then Zimbabwe should brace themselves for a tough competition,"

He said. Tikolo is also impressed with Coach Roger Harper, and what he has achieved since joining the team. Zimbabwe will be the first real test of Harper as coach for Kenya. On the make up of Kenya's team, Tikolo noted that it was a great chance for the newer players to show their worth:

"This time, the selection was done when some regular players have injuries which gives the youngsters an opportunity to prove themselves,"

Confidence is great ahead of a series, and Steve Tikolo is an experienced enough player and captain to know how much to instil in his players. Too much could be costly however, as Kenya have found out before (Champions Trophy 2004). Tikolo, and the other mainstays, will also need to act as shepherd for the younger players to get them accustomed to the rigours of touring. We lost out in the finals of the Intercontinental Cup last year partly due to player fatigue, and that is something we must guard against in the coming month. This is one of the factors that has been stressed by Roger Harper, who has warned his players against alcohol on the tour, noting that it dehydrates and contributes to physical stress. It is positive to see the coach's professional approach, and it seems like this is rubbing off on the players as well, a fact that the captain also acknowledges:

"His work ethic is very professional which is good for the boys,"

This next month will be a big transition for Kenyan cricket, and how the team handles it will be crucial for the future of cricket in the country. It is early days yet, but so far, the signs are promising. Now all they have to do is deliver the results on the pitch.

Quotes taken from Richard Mwangi's article in today's Nation.

Zimbabwe Squad To Face Kenya To Be Named Tomorrow

Kenya will be in a very unusual position when they take on Zimbabwe this Saturday in the first One Day International at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. For the first time ever against a full member country, they will go into the match with a more experienced side. According to this report by Cricinfo, Zimbabwe's captain, Terry Duffin has yet to play in a full ODI, although he has played for Zimbabwe 'A', and did score a half centruy against India on Debut, so he can bat. It will be interesting to see the rest of the squad when it is announced tomorrow, and even more so to see if they will be able to gel as a team. How many of their youngsters are called up from the Under 19 squad will also be a factor. Sean Williams, Zimbabwe's captain at the Under-19 World Cup says in this article, again from cricinfo, that he doesn't think that many of the players are ready yet. Zimbabwe may not have a choice however, and Kenya must be prepared to take full advantage of any weaknesses. That said, we also will be blooding some youngsters of our own, and must guard against complacency.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wish the Kenya Team Good Luck

Tomorrow is D-Day for the Kenyan team as they jet off to face Zimbabwe. It is a notoriously difficult place for opposing supporters to get through to, and the Kenyan team will no doubt miss the contact and support from home.
If any fans out there would like to wish the Kenyan Cricket team good luck in their upcoming tour to Zimbabwe, please email me using the link in profiles, or leave a comment on this post. I will endeavour to ensure that the messages are passed on to someone who can give them to the team.

Response From A Coast Fan

I just received this in an email from a Coast fan:
"Hey Nick just read your article on Msc being the team to beat in mombasa, well I would like to say that MSC only put into the coastweek games that they do actually win. Will give you an example of a game over the summer where a Jaffery mix n match side beat MSC but sadly that didn't make the papers. Although Latif is a pretty decent bat and MSC are pretty much a good team nowadays. However cricket on the coast is on decline lets hope something gets done about it soon".
Any response from MSC or the CCA? I hope cricket in Mombasa is not on the slide. Kenya needs to build on its existing infastructure todevelope a truly National league. Bangladesh have done well in emulating Australia - 6 teams that play each other on a Home and Away basis in all forms of the game. Kenya could do worse than follow their example. At the moment, I would say, 3 teams from Nairobi, 2 from Mombasa, and 1 from the West. Over time this could be restructured or expanded toaccommodatee the spread of the game. One day, it would be great to see a 5 teams from different provinces, but that day I know is still a long way off.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's Friendly Action Only At The Coast

Thank heavens for Coastweek! Because of this article, I can now tell you that Cockenbach CC also lost to Mombasa Sports Club by nine wickets. We shall be keeping an eye on Latif Noorani (110 not out) when the Coast domestic program finally resumes, something I hope the CCA are working hard to achieve. It sounds from the article that MSC are the team to beat at the coast:
"The previous two Saturdays, Sports Club won friendly games against Simba Union by nine wickets and Coast Development by three wickets."
I am working at getting more news from Mombasa, but if anyone has any news, please get in touch.

Another site on Kenyan Cricket

It is great to see a like minded site out there. For Kenyan cricket fans, it is worth taking a look at Shahzad Imran's Kenya Cricket Page. I'm all for anyone out there spreading the word, and hopefully we shall soon see more green on the results page. The more feedback I get from doing this site, the more I see the Harambee spirit is still alive. Pamoja Tutashinda!

Kenya's Squad Is An Interesting Mix

It is an interesting side the selectors have chosen for Zimbabwe. It contains some players we all knew would be in the team, namely Steve Tikolo, Thomas Odoyo, Kennedy Otieno Obuya and Maurice Ouma. It contains some young talent, I for one am glad to see selected, namely Alfred Luseno, Nehemiah Odhiambo Ngoche, Kalpesh Patel, and Tanmay Mishra. It is time that these four in particular of the new crop step up to the next level. There are players who have been chosen as a result of good domestic seasons, namely David Obuya, Peter Ongondo and Josephat Ababu; they will need to carry this form through to the tour. Finally, no squad would be complete without a few surprises: Jimmy Kamande, Brijal Patel and Tony Suji.
With no disrespect meant to these latter, I am surprised to see them in the squad for different reasons. Jimmy Kamande has had a good domestic season, but has in the past had trouble with his bowling action, and has spent some time in the doldrums as a result. If he has straightened himself out, he is a class fielder, and will give Kenya a solid all round option. If not, this could be his last hurrah. Tony Suji has been one of Kenya's trenchermen, but has never to my mind set the World on fire. It may be that he is selected more for his batting, which seems to have improved of late, that his bowling, which at times lacks the penetration and accuracy of his brother Martin. Finally I am surprised to see Brijal Patel simply because he was not mentioned in the original squad. It is good to see him in the team, as I think he adds sand to the batting order, as well as giving another bowling option, a combination which helps fill the void left by Maurice Odumbe. He does however need to start making some big scores for Kenya, something that he most certainly has the talent to do.

For every player selected, there are always those who feel disappointed to have missed out. Martin Suji and Lameck Onyango are two of the main omissions due to injury, though both are hoping to be fit in time for Bangladesh. It is up to the youngsters selected to prove that they are worth retaining if and when these two return. Ravindu Shah continues to be MIA due to his knee, and one must surely wonder if his career can recover from so long without playing. He will be sorely missed, as he was a genuinely class act with the bat, one of Kenya's best technicians. One of the big names to miss out is Collins Obuya. He is staying behind to work on his action, which has never really recovered since his injury while playing for Warwickshire. Hopefully, he can build on what he learnt under Terry Jenner, as Kenya would really benefit from him back at his best and in the side. Others who have been left at home, but I'm sure will feature in the future are youngsters Ragab Aga, Amit Bhudia, Rajesh Bhudia, Ashish Karia, Peter Kituku and Malhar Patel. All of these have talent, and will no doubt continue to snap at the heels of those selected. They need to put aside the initial disappointment and concentrate on improving in time for the next selection.

For those selected, this is the end of a long time waiting in the wings. They should have the hunger and drive to succeed, and they have shown they have the talent. It is a long overdue return to international cricket for Kenya, and the chance must be seized with both hands. Good luck to Steve Tikolo and his men.

Mixed Reults For Ipplepen and Cockenbach in Nakuru

Both English touring sides were in action at Nakuru this weekend, with greatly differing results.

On Saturday, Cockenbach CC took on the N.A.C Under 17 side in a 40 over match . N.A.C won the toss and elected to field. It may have been a decision they regretted, as Cockenbach's two openers J. Walter and M.Beedell proved more than able to deal with the new ball, both striking half-centuries. Indeed, N.A.C struggled with the ball throughout the innings, only restricting one of the visiting batsmen to less than 10, and that was C.Thomson who was run out by Pradeep for 5. Pradeep was the pick of the fielders for N.A.C, involved in a second run out, as well as taking Cockenbach's number 3, A.Eve, caught and bowled. At the end of their 40 overs, the visitors had put on 259 for the loss of only 5 wickets.
The youngsters struggled in reply, with wickets falling at an alarming rate. Only three batsmen were able to get starts, and unfortunately none were able to convert them to the big score that N.A.C needed to stay in the match. N.A.C's highest scorer was Trushit who made a battling 47 before falling caught and bowled to Walters, who was the pick of the bowlers with 3 wickets. In the end, N.A.C managed to reach 187 all out, a loss of 72 runs. While the result was not what the youngsters would have hoped for, it will have given them much needed experience against more seasoned players. They will improve with more matches like this, and we may yet see some of them in action for Kenya in the future.

Sunday saw the N.A.C senior side play host to Ipplepen CC, again in a 40 overs a-side contest. This time it was the visitors who won the toss, and not having learnt from the day before, elected to field. Again, it proved a mistake. A fiery 64 from Dilip, and good starts from Harshil, Minesh, Vimal and Jogesh taking N.A.C to a formidable looking 9 for 286. Chasing 7 runs an over was always going to be a tough task for the tourists, and some excellent bowling from the N.A.C soon put paid to any hopes of them overhauling the target. Vimal was especially impressive in carving through the middle order - He bowled Wakeham for 7, Harvey for 1, Charlie for 8 and W.Goose for 1, after Ghanshyam had done the damage at the top of the order. In the end, it was an easy defence for the hosts, winning by 188 runs in the 34th over.

Attention in Nakuru will now turn to the provincial limited overs tournament which is due to start very soon. I will keep you posted as I get news from a very reliable Shailesh in Nakuru (hint, hint those of you in Mombasa who are the only province yet to make contact…)

Kenya Squad For Zimbabwe Tour

Kenyan Selectors have announced a 14 man squad to tour Zimbabwe. While some of the players are as expected, there are also a couple of surprises.



Monday, February 20, 2006

Kenya's Stats: Time for Improvement

Doing some playing around on the net this afternoon, I was got sucked in to a good hour playing around with the stats searcher on Testmatch Stats. Link courtesy of Stu at Stumpcam.
I was struck by a couple of things, and neither made me feel very happy. Basically, Kenya needs a couple of players who can achieve and maintain decent averages both with the bat, and ball.
Kenya's best batsman, Steve Tikolo, only averages 28, and only himself and Kennedy Otieno of the present crop have made centuries in ODIs. Kenya's average score in ODIs is 182, while our opponents average 213. It is a similar situation with our bowlers: Only Thomas Odoyo and Martin Suji average less than 5 runs an over, and the best average is again Tikolo with 38 balls per wicket. We must learn to be much more economical with our bowling, and need to find the penetration to get through opposing line-ups.

Tikolo, and several other of the Kenyan batsmen are, I believe, better than their current averages show. This tour has to be the time to start to put this right - the better players out there are averaging 40 plus, and Kenya needs a couple of batsmen to do this for us on a regular basis. Our bowlers need to reduce their runs per over to around 4, and get their averages down into the twenties. If someone can step up to the mark and achieve this in the coming series, it will make life a lot easier in terms of Kenya winning matches.

It is also disconcerting to see that almost all of Kenya's better partnerships have included players who have since left the team. Again, a perfect chance for some of the youngsters to step up, or the established players to make up some lost ground. We are a better team than our stats and history show, lets hope we can prove this over the next couple of months.

Poll Results

It appears I am not the only one disillusioned with the media coverage of cricket in Kenya.
The question was: What do you think of cricket coverage in the Kenyan media?
82% responded 'Poor', 18% responded 'Satisfactory', and Zilch, Nada, No one thought it was 'Good'. Whatever touchy sports editors may think, they obviously have some work to do to convince those of you who visit the site (and feel strongly enough to vote). That said, I have at least noticed a bit of an upturn in the number of articles recently. It would be nice if it wasn't just a coincidence...
My next poll deals with the upcoming tour to Zimbabwe: What will the score be. My pick? 4-1 to Kenya. I think we have had a better preparation, and will be a more hungry team with a serious point to prove.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Holland Squad for Kenya Named

Holland have named the following squad to represent them against Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup, and One Day international in Nairobi at the end of March:

Luuk van Troost (c), Jeroen Smits (vc), Daan van Bunge, Ryan ten Doeschete, Victor Grandia, Tom de Grooth, Bas Zuiderant, Muhammad Kashif, Billy Stelling, Alexei Kervezee, Tim de Leede, Edgar Schiferli, Darron Reekers, Pieter Seelaar

From Bensti's post in Big Cricket

This Weekend's Domestic Fixtures

These are a bit late as I have spent the morning putting up streamers and balloons for a family birthday.

NPCA 45 Overs Tournament, 19th Feb:

Group A:
Oshwal XI vs Kanbis 'A' at Eastleigh Secondary School
Parklands SC Ndovus vs Kanbis 'B' at Simba Union
SCLYLA vs Simba Union at Pindolia Academy

Group B:
Ruaraka vs Swamibapa 'A' at Ruaraka
Ngara vs Premier Club at Ngara
Sir Ali 'A' vs Parklands SC Rhinos at Sir Ali

Group C:
Nairobi Jaffery vs Kongonis at Jaffery
Swamibapa 'B' vs Sir Ali 'B' at premier Club
Quitbis vs Krishna XI at Seifee Park

Group D:
Aga Khan vs Stray Lions at Aga Khan
Nbi Nookers vs Nbi Institute at Nbi School
Golden XI vs Nbi Gymkhana at Highridge Pr. School

There is also action at Nakuru this weekend with the two touring teams from the UK, Cockenach CC and Ipplepen C.C due to play a Nakuru side yesterday and today respectively.

Its Back to 5 matches vs Zimbabwe

Good on the ICC. I said in my last post on the subject that something should be done about Zimbabwe Cricket's cavalier approach to anyone but themselves, and it seems like cricket bosses in Dubai had the same idea. We are back to having a full 5 match series, and the ICC have risen in my estimation. Zimbabwe's reasoning for cancelling two of the matches was supposedly 'financial'; they clarified this by saying they could not afford to provide TV coverage for the third umpire. The fact that Kenya could well win the series, and leapfrog them on the table had "nothing" to do with it. Of course it didn't. So when it was pointed out that as Kenya is an associate, so TV coverage is not needed, well the reason just seemed to slip away. Ozias Bvute is also reported to have come under a lot of pressure in Dubai over Zimbabwe Crickets handling of the two tours. This is excellent news for the Kenyan team that should have been named yesterday - I will post it as soon as I know. The squad has been training hard under coach Roger Harper, and his views on the make up of the team are welcoming:

"Let me put it this way, what the Kenyan team needs is having the best players playing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the veterans who have been there a long time or the fresh faces playing. What matters is getting your best players to represent Kenya fully."

Absolutely right, and especially with the ramifications of a good result on this tour. If Kenya have a winning tour to Zimbabwe, it will force them to have to play in the Bangladesh tri-series or risk losing out to both teams. Harper has been concentrating training on getting the players back to a fitness level where they can focus for long periods during a game. He has said that the lack of match practice is a worry, but that not having played means the players are hungry and are raring to go. The upcoming tour will be a litmus test of how well the training has gone, and will give us a good idea of what the future hold under his tutelage.
Harper is keen that cricket is expanded outside the main hubs, and is optimistic about the future of the game in the country:

"We have young talent but we need to train them how to apply their skills more effectively. If we implement a proper development programme, to train and shape properly mentally, giving them focus, the right attitude to the game and application of their skills then we shall be up there with the best."

Bring on the 23rd! -This will be a very interesting tour indeed.