Friday, July 07, 2006

Who Should Open for Kenya?

With Ravindu Shah injured and seemingly unlikely to make a return to international cricket, and the omission of Kennedy Obuya from the squad, Kenya's top order is looking vulnerable. I have added two polls to the side bar, and would be interested in your opinions.
First is a simple one: Should Kennedy Obuya and the selectors bury their differences so that he can play for Kenya against Bangladesh?
The second question assumes the Obuya is still in the mix for a place in the team. I would like to know who you think should open the batting for Kenya. All the options apart from Modi, Mishra and Kayne have been tried in this position for either Kenya or Kenya A this year with mixed results (at best). Of the latter three, Kayne opened for CCA while Mishra and Modi are players who I feel may have the technique/experience to fill this position even if it is not where they would usually bat.
Both polls will run until the first ODI against Bangladesh. I look forward to seeing your views, and don't forget, for those who want to have their two bob's worth, there is always the forum.

Clegg Scores Maiden Century

Overseas Roundup (late again!)
Fairburn skipper, and future Kenya hopeful James Clegg scored an unbeaten century last weekend as his team brushed aside Newton Hill to retain top spot in the Leeds West Riding League. Clegg, who retired his innings on 105 to give some of the other batsmen a go, shared a second wicket record for the club of 265. With Kenya 'A' batsmen putting up a dismal performance in Denmark, Clegg certainly chose a good time to illustrate what it takes to make big scores. His innings included six sixes and ten fours and comes just before he is due to visit family in Kenya. James is hoping to be able to meet Kenyan selectors while in Nairobi, and will also be looking at doing some youth coaching in his family's town of Eldoret.
Elsewhere, Hitesh Modi's side Chesham were also busy making a lot of runs. He declared their innings closed on 1/269, but I can't find any more details, so not sure if he even had a chance to bat himself. Hitesh is listed in the squad for the Bangladesh tour, but not sure when he will actually link up with the rest of the squad.
Steve Tikolo has joined Haverigg CC and should be in action for them this weekend. He knows the players and conditions at the Poolside ground, so should slot back in well. He will however be missed in Kenya where the national team are training ahead of the Bangladesh tour.
I'm Not sure about Amit Bhudia's whereabouts. He is listed as being in the training squad in Nairobi, but if not will no doubt be back in action for club side Herning in their two matches in the Danish Division 1 this weekend.
There are Two Kenyans I know of in Australia, Mohammed Sheikh (in Adelaide) and Dilip "fish" Hirani (in Sydney). Neither will be in action at the moment as it is the off season, but if anyone knows any contact details for Hirani, who went on the Under 19 tour to South Africa, I would very much like to get in touch.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Inamdar's Appointment To ICC Board A Gain For Kenya

Samir Inamdar's election to the Full ICC Board as one of three Associate members is a huge boost for Kenyan cricket. It is a well deserved reward for the Chairman of Cricket Kenya after a year's hard work trying to right the ship back home. Inamdar, who said he is delighted with the appointment must however not forget where his primary duties lie.
While much has been achieved in the year or so he has been at the helm in Kenya, there is still a huge amount to do. There is still no national league or junior development program, and there seems to be some doubt as to how effectively the national team are being trained. The upcoming matches against Bangladesh will give us an indication on the latter, but the other two are very pressing issues and must be addressed ASAP.
With Inamdar on the board, Kenya can at least expect the Associates to have a strong voice in support of the expansion program. Despite the obvious gains being made by the top 6 Associates, there are still those out there who maintain their opposition to spreading the game. For people who play or watch cricket, and should understand that building an innings takes time, there are some very impatient souls out there. Inamdar must stand firm against these and continue to do his best to grow the game both at home, and now globally. This job brings with it added clout for Kenya, but also extra responsibility for Inamdar. All the best to Cricket Kenya's hard working chairman in proving he is up to the task.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ticket Prices Released For Bangladesh Tour as Cricket Kenya Look For Sponsors

Ticket prices for the three One Dayers against Bangladesh have been announced, and are a most economical for those who want to watch all three matches.
Prices are as follows:
Season tickets adults ksh 1,200 and Children/students ksh 600
Daily tickets adults ksh 500 and children/students ksh 200
This will be a great chance to see some fantastic cricket being played, and I would encourage anyone on Nairobi to get down to Nairobi Gymkhana ground and support the team. I certainly wish I could be there. Hopefully plenty of school children will get to watch the matches. If neccesary, Cricket Kenya should look at allowing a limited number of school age children in at a further reduced price to encourage interest in the sport.
Cricket Kenya are also looking for corporate sponsors for the Series Brochure.
Rates are:
Full page A5 size : ksh 20,000
Half page : ksh 12,000
Inside cover : ksh 30,000
This would be a fantastic opportunity for forward thinking businesses to get on the World Cup bandwagon early. There will be plenty of interest from Bangladesh, so any companies with interests that way should also grab the chance.
Finally, there is the chance for corporate sponsors of the 20 Tents and stands. These are available at Nairobi Gymkhana grounds, where the matches will be held at ksh75,000 per stand for 40 people. Again a great opportunity for local businesses to get exposure to new markets.
Hopefully these opportunities will be taken by the local corporate community. It will be a good gauge of the future waters to see how much corporate sponsorship can be raised for this series. With lots more home games to come over the next year, a good relationship with sponsors could be very beneficial for Cricket Kenya, and hence the development of the game.

Tikolo Rejoins Haverigg

I mentioned this in the post about the squad selection, but there is a full story here for those interested. Ironically, he replaces Justin Ontong who has been called away for national duty with South Africa. Hopefully, Steve will still be available to play for Kenya in the three ODIs against Bangladesh. If not, things could get messy. This is not a good sign for Cricket Kenya. It is great that a Kenyan player is wanted as a professional by a club, but shows very poor planning. While the stint away in Haverigg may do Tikolo no harm, it will certainly not help the rest of the team prepare for the upcoming series. I hope this does not all end in tears for Kenya, it has been a difficult enough time as it is.

Kenya's Provisional Squad Without Obuya

According to a report in today's Nation, kenya have named a 26 man provisional squad for the three match one-day series against Bangladesh in two weeks time. There are a couple of new faces in the team, and a couple of players who have been brought back in after some time away. There are also a couple of surprise omissions, and not surprisingly, the Nation leads with the biggest of these, Kennedy Obuya. Kenya's long serving wicket keeper was controversially left out against The Netherlands, and it nearly cost us the match. His exclusion again, especially from the provisional squad is mystifying, unless it is for reasons other than purely cricketing ones. After missing out on the Intercontinental Cup match, Obuya was vocal in his dissatisfaction at being left out and threatened to retire from international cricket. Hopefully this has not happened as I feel he has at least two more years to offer Kenya, and there is certainly no one who has shown the ability to take his place. If there is some sort of niggle going on, all the parties involved (however wronged they feel) need to pull their heads in and sort it out. This is no time for division.
Other long term members of the team to miss out are: Martin Suji, who is still injured and won't know until July 27th when he will play again, and Lameck Onyango for whom time to reclaim a spot in the national side may now be running out.
Cricinfo report that the squad announcement comes after some of the leading players criticised Cricket Kenya for not putting in place a proper training program, and also note that Steve Tikolo is away in England for a three week contract with club side Haveriggs. This is certainly not the sort of preparation we need if we are going to get back to competing with the top teams.
A brief run down of the players selected (according to the Nation) is as follows:
Steve Tikolo (Capt). A no brainer - we would be in serious strife without him. It is not good however that he will be in England during the lead up to the series - Cricket Kenya needs to do more to stop top players being tempted away at times like this. Will need some good scores if Kenya are going to compete.
Thomas Odoyo. Again, no surprise. Will open the bowling and hopefully will find good form with the bat.
Tony Suji. I am surprised to see him selected as a batsman if Obuya has been left out. I hope the Suji at 3 experiment is not persisted with. As an all rounder though, he is again a fairly obvious choice due to his experience. Should bat at 7 and be used more with the ball.
Peter Ongondo. Without a doubt, the most consistent Kenyan player this year. Again, an automatic selection, let's just hope he can continue to take wickets.
Collins Obuya. Has done better with the bat recently than with the ball. In some ways, this is good news as there are a couple of upcoming spinners who could take his bowling place, but we need runs. Would be great if he could find form with both.
Jimmy Kamande. Keeps his place due to no one in the A team doing enough to threaten it. Has been far from Kenya's worst player so far this year, and may get another chance.
Josephat Ababu. Didn't really feature in Kenya A's tour to Denmark. A surprise inclusion to my mind, I don't expect him to make the final squad.
Brijal Patel. Performed well with the bat in the Atul Shah Tournament, but disappointing in Denmark. May lose out to a couple of the younger players for a spot.
Nehemiah Odhiambo. Has done enough in the Atul Shah Tournament and in Denmark to be knocking on the door to the senior side. Will benefit from the absence of Martin Suji for a place.
Alfred Luseno. There has been much hype, but not enough delivery for my liking. I feel he needs a longer stint with the A team before he steps up.
Malhar Patel. Showed glimpses of his potential during the tour to Denmark. Didn't make the runs when needed though. I feel he won't make the starting line up for the first match, but may be called on to replace whoever does not deliver.
Tanmay Mishra. Did well against Bangladesh last time, and showed some form in Denmark. Hopefully he will get his first one day fifty and go on from there. Automatic selection.
Rajesh Bhudia. In the running for a bowling spot. Did fairly well against The Netherlands in the Inercontinental Cup and had a good average in the Atul Shah Tournament. Not sure if he is quite ready to step up to the next level yet.
Ashish Karia. Has been underplayed by Kenya so far. Has shown potential, but also failed to deliver. Jury is still out, but he will probably get at least one game - hopefully, he will be given a real chance when that happens.
Alex Obanda. A very surprising selection in place of Kennedy Obuya. Averaged 4.33 from 3 innings in the Atul Shah Tournament. Surely not ready for international duty.
Jadhavji Laxman. One of the most economical bowlers in the Atul Shah competition, also finished strongly in Denmark (if I have my players right). May get a run, but I think the spinners spot will depend who impresses Harper in the nets.
Hiren Varaiya. Another who has shown potential with the ball for Kenya A without setting the World on fire. May have to mature a bit before he gets his chance.
Timothy Muange. I think the player Cricket Kenya are hoping will replace Kennedy Obuya. I feel he is underdone, and about a year away from being ready for a full cap. With Kennedy absent, may well get a premature chance.
Jadhavji Jeshani. A possibility for the opener's spot, but has not really shown his worth while playing for Kenya A, so I don't feel deserves a full cap yet. Should mature into a good player in time.
Darhit Shah. One of the youngsters in the squad. Do not know enough about him to say more.
Rashmi Gami. A well deserved inclusion in the squad after a very good performance for the CCA in the Atul Shah tournament. A shame it was too late for him to go to Denmark. Hopefully will get his chance in at least one match.
Stewart Kayne. Again well deserved place after finishing with most wickets in the Atul Shah event. Can also open the batting, and for this alone should get a chance.
Maurice Ouma. Has had a poor year so far. Has done well for Kenya in the past, and that and his potential are probably what is keeping him in the squad. Needs to show a lot of improvement in form to warrant a place in the final team.
Hitesh Modi. Great to see him named in the squad. I'm assuming this means he is available and can get out from England. Did well last series against Bangladesh, but will be looking to convert his starts into bigger scores. Automatic selection.
Amit Bhudia. Deserves a place in the squad on his only previous outing for Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup. Not having a great year so far, so may play a stand in role if someone else doesn't perform. (Not listed as being in the squad by cricinfo).
Ragheb Aga. Great news to see him back in the squad. Will certainly strengthen Kenya's seam options. Could even open the bowling with Odoyo. (Not listed as being in the squad by cricinfo).
There are then 3 players listed as being in the squad by cricinfo, but not in the nation:
Ali Sheikh. Don't know anything about him.
Elijah Otieno. Ditto. If he is brother to the Obuya players, at least comes with a good pedigree.
David Obuya. Had a chance earlier in the year, and is only averaging 15 at a strike rate of 44 in ODIs so far. Hardly the figures to recommend reselection.

Mishra Regains Some Respectability For Kenya A

A fine 72 not out from Tanmay Mishra helped Kenya A to a much needed win against Denmark's Under 23 side yesterday. Mishra's effort came after a much improved spell in the field for the Kenyan youngsters who restricted the Danes to 159 all out having been 5/143. Jadavji Bhimji was the pick of the bowlers for Kenya picking up 3 for 30 with his spin.
In reply, Timothy Muange and Maurice Ouma shared a 55 run partnership, which is a glimmer of hope for Kenyan fans. The first wicket however, triggered a mini collapse from Kenya who lost 5 batsmen in the space of 19 runs. For once however, a player stood up and took the load on his shoulders. No surprises I suppose that it was Tanmay Mishra, but it is great to see that he was able to put the disappointment of the previous couple of matches behind and take Kenya home. His unbeaten 72 included one over of 18, and may well have done him enough to keep his place in the national team for the series against Bangladesh.
Congratulations to the boys on this win. I have not been easy on them this tour, and there is a lot of ground to be made up by most of the team, but this was a good way to end the trip. Results not withstanding, this tour will have been a great learning experience for the youngsters, and they now need to build on this to take their game forward. It is imperative that the batsmen realise the need to build innings and partnerships and they need to be given the conditions to do this. On the whole, the bowlers did not do too badly, and a couple may feel they will be knocking on the door of the national team before too long. However, they still need to learn how to manufacture wickets and to increase consistency, so there is still plenty of work to do.
It would be hard to call this tour a success based on the results of the matches.
Against Danish club sides, Kenya A played 4, won 2 and lost 2. Against Denmark's national side, we played 2, lost 2. Against their Under 23 side, we played 1, won 1. Overall, Kenya A played 7, won 3, lost 4.
In terms of players putting themselves forward for national selection, it was also a bit of a worry. Of the batsmen, only Tanmay Mishra may just have done enough, especially considering his efforts against Bangladesh last time round. Malhar Patel initially looked good, but fell short when really needed. Of the bowlers, it is difficult to say as complete results are hard to come by. Nehemiah Odhiambo seemed to do well overall and was at least able to get a couple of runs on the board with the bat too. Alfred Luseno started superbly, then did not seem to carry it through, while Jadavji Bhimji ended well. Difficult to say if any will be given a chance based on these performances. Certainly any that do will really need to raise the level of their game.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Time For Cricket Kenya To Act As Kenya A Lose Again

Kenya A's nightmare tour of Denmark continues. Another match against a club side, and another poor batting performance leads to a defeat. This is really becoming quite a concern for Kenya, especially as no player is stepping up to fill the batting spots ahead of the Bangladesh series.
Kenya A batted first against Glostrup CC yesterday and were all out for 141 in 40 overs. Yet again, we not only failed to get a decent score, but also failed to bat out our overs. In reply, Kenya A only managed to take 4 wickets as Glostrup sailed past the total to win by six wickets. It has been a tough tour for the youngsters, and it is certainly not all their fault, but something needs to be done very soon to improve the depth of Kenyan cricket.
It must be made Cricket Kenya's top priority to introduce a national competition in the longer version of the game. Kenya cannot afford to continue losing ground to the other Associates, and the longer we go without a meaningful national competition, the more this happens. We can easily rectify this by giving our top 60 or so players the conditions in which to best improve their game. It is imperative our young players learn how to build an innings; how to graft runs out when in trouble. Likewise our bowlers need to learn how to make wickets happen, rather than waiting for the batsmen to make the mistake.
Once a national league has been set up, Cricket Kenya need to follow this up with a vigourous youth policy to increase the player base. I see the priorities in this order as we need to look at improving our current players before we look at bringing on new ones. A fantastic youth program will do no good unless there is something for them to move up to and there exists a way to continue improving their game.
Cricket Kenya have been doing great work in getting matches for the national and A teams, in terms of looking for sponsors and in arranging tournaments. This will help, and their good work must be recognised. However, it is getting beyond time for something to happen on the domestic scene. This must be assisted by the provincial bodies. After all, they were among the ones who elected the current office bearers and gave them their mandate to rescue the game.
Not so long ago Kenya were considered the top Associate. As much as it hurts to say, we can no longer claim this. No matter where the blame lies, we must do all we can to get this position back. It does not start with matches against other teams, though this is a part of it. It starts within our own back yard, and it must start now.

Kenya A Photos

There are some photos on the Cricket Europe site from Kenya A's match against Denmark. I do not know why Kenya A are playing in whites rather than colours for this match. It could be because their luggage never caught up with them in Denmark, though I think this slightly unlikely. Possibly Ishan Sports only provided colours for the national team, though I was under the impression that they were kit sponsors for all teams.
Kenya's technical staff might also want to have a close look at some of the dismissals of the Kenyan players, and bowler follow-throughs. While photos are difficult to use as a training tool as they only capture one brief moment, I could see at least three fairly obvious errors in technique that need to be looked at. I do not wish to sound as though I am constantly picking at holes, but if problems are there, they need to be recognised and addressed.

The Netherlands vs Sri Lanka Match 1

This looks like being a tough match today for the men in orange. Sri Lanka have several players in blistering form after the series whitewash against England and also have far more experience at this level than the Dutch. A good preview of the match can be read here, at Cricket Europe who will also be doing exclusive live coverage of the match.
With Scotland and Ireland already having given a good account of themselves without winning, it is now up to the Dutch to carry the banner for the Associates against the Full members. All the best to them, and here's hoping for an upset against the 6th ranked team in the World.

Bangladesh Name Squad For Kenya

Bangladesh have named their 15 man tour squad for Kenya and Zimbabwe yesterday, including 2 new faces in the team. Saqibul Hasan and Forhad Reza who are all-rounders have earned their places on the basis of strong performances for the youth sides earlier on this year and good domestic form.
It is good to see that Bangladesh are able to continue to bring through youngsters via their feeder system. This is very much what Kenya need to work on doing. It makes sense for Bangladesh to blood these players now against the weaker teams before they have to face sterner opposition later on. Kenya have tried to do the same with our A team, but as yet do not seem to have the depth to make this work. With the introduction of a serious schools program however, this should start to change over the next couple of years or so.
Bangladesh thrashed Kenya last time the two met earlier this year in Bangladesh, and will be intent on doing the same this time around. For Kenya, it is a chance to see what improvements have been made so far under Roger Harper. We have had a good few months to regroup and train, and hopefully we shall see the benefits pay off this series. It is also a chance for Cricket Kenya to raise awareness of the game back home. If it has not already started, there needs to be a serious marketing campaign to promote the series over the next two weeks.
According to Cricinfo, the Bangladesh squad is as follows:
Habibul Bashar (capt), Mohammad Ashraful, Shahriar Nafees, Rajin Saleh, Javed Omar, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim, Khaled Mashud, Mohammad Rafique, Mashrafe Mortaza, Syed Rasel, Shahadat Hossain, Forhad Reza, Saqibul Hasan, Alok Kapali.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Rift Valley Look To Youth For The Future

Last Saturday, the newly elected Rift Valley Cricket Association held their first meeting to chart the future of cricket in the region. Two important decisions came from it, and both look positive in terms of increasing the player base. First was the decision, that the Regional Under 15 tournament comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda will be held at Greensteds school in August. Exact dates are yet to be finalised, but this is a great boost for the area. It gives them further experience in hosting a tournament, and preparing pitches of the standard required. It also gives kids in the area something to aim for and be inspired by. At the moment, I think it unlikely that many of the Kenya team would come from the Rift Valley, but when youngsters in the area see what the game is all about, that may well change in the future.
Couple this with the second decision: That officers will undergo professional training in order to embark on a serious school training program. This is a great start for the new board - they are certainly making all the right noises. What we need to see now, is this being put into action. Cricket Kenya needs to help in both of these projects, and I'm sure the intention is there to do just that.
After the disappointing performance of our A team in Denmark, it is good to hear that something is being done about encouraging youngsters to play the game, and hence increase the player base. What would be even better would be to see similar things going on elsewhere in the country. Time after all is short, and the sooner we get started in bringing on the youth, the sooner we will see them come through to play for Kenya. We have until the 2011 World Cup qualifying tournament to do this. It is not a long time.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Kenya A Lose To Denmark Again

Once again, it was Kenya A's batting that let the side down. One positive was that we were able to put on about 60 more runs than in the first match, and at least this time we used most of the overs. Batting first, Kenya A reached 161 in 46 of the alloted 50 overs, with the two main contributors Maurice Ouma (37)and Nehemiah Odhiambo (33). Sadly, neither of these two were able to go on to make a big score, and no one else offered much resistance. It would have looked even worse had not Denmark generously donated 40 extras to the cause!
In reply, the hosts made it look easy, knocking off the runs in just 25 overs. Jadavji Bhimji did take 2/31 off 6, but on the whole Kenya A never threatened the Danes at all. Half Centuries from J Malcom Hansen and Hamad Zaman showing the Kenyans how it should be done, just as Freddy Klokker did in the first match. In a way, it is a relief that Denmark did not win the toss and bat first. I don't like to think what the score may have looked like had Klokker had another go at us.
Obviously this has been a learning experience for the team. They now know what the rigours of touring are like, and they also know how much they need to improve if they are going to be considered for a spot in the national side. I will post the scorecards for both matches in the next couple of days, but be warned, they don't make pleasant reading.
The team should have at least one more match against club opposition before they return home, so hopefully can at least use this to restore some confidence. I hope Kenya's next match against international opposition goes better, but with the national team hosting Bangladesh, I cannot say I am that confident. Still, the great thing about cricket is that you never know. Fingers crossed eh!