Saturday, July 22, 2006

Thoughts On The Kenyan Team For Canada

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

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cricket Kenya Name Team To Travel To Canada

Cricket Kenya have announced the final squad that will travel to Canada. At first glance, they seem to have gone with a mixture of new caps and experience. As it is getting on for midnight my time, I will sleep on it and come up with a more original opinion tomorrow. Without further ado, here is the team as released today:

Stephen Ongonji Tikolo (Captain)
Thomas Odoyo Migai (V/Captain)
Brijal Patel
Kennedy Otieno Obuya
Otieno Ondik (Tony) Suji
Tanmay Mishra
Collins Omondi Obuya
Peter Jimmy Carter Ongondo
Nehemiah Odhiambo Ngoche
Timothy Reynold Muange
James Kabatha Kamande
Hitesh Modi
Hiren Ashok Varaiya
Team manager: Davinder Bharij
National Coach: Roger Andrew
Team Physio: Wycliffe Otieno
Non Traveling Reserves:
Darshit Navinchandra Shah
David Oluoch Obuya
Josephat Ababu Sorongo

Poll Results

With the team to tour Canada announced today, the two polls I have been running now no longer apply. The first, Should Kennedy Obuya be included in the squad was a fairly convincing 'yes'.
55% of you thought he should be reinstated so long as disciplinary issues were sorted out.
20% thought he should be included anyway - we need him too much to worry about discipline.
25% thought it was time he moved on.
It seems the majority of the public (well those that visit the site and vote anyway) will be happy that the selectors have seen fit to include him in the side to fly to Toronto on Wednesday.
The second poll: 'Who should open the batting for Kenya?' Produced some interesting results:
Kennedy Obuya........19%
Jadhavji Jeshani......16%
Hitesh Modi.............13%
Tanmay Mishra.......13%
Maurice Ouma.........12%
Brijal Patel................9%
Stewart Kayne..........8%
Timothy Muange......7%
David Obuya.............2%
Alex Obanda.............1%
I hope the selectors were not as split otherwise it would have been a really stormy meeting.
The current poll asks who you think will win the NPCA Super League 2006. There will also be a poll on your thoughts on the upcoming games in Canada as well as the voting for the awards for each game. Thanks to all those who voted - keep it coming!

D-Day For Selection As Tikolo Set To Join Squad

Both the Standard and Nation report this morning that team captain, Steve Tikolo, is due back in Kenya on Sunday to join the rest of the squad before they leave for Canada on Wednesday. Cricket Kenya CEO Tom Tikolo is also quoted as saying that Hitesh Modi will fly straight to Toronto from the UK should he be selected. After their heroics in the last game, it will no doubt boost team moral to have them back again this time around.
For the rest of the squad, today is the day that many have been waiting for after a month of intensive training under Coach Harper. While there are a few slots in the side that are automatic picks, I would say that at least half of the places in the final squad have been up for grabs. It will be interesting to see who has caught the eye of the selectors over the last month. From the information I have available, and taking past performance into account, my final squad would look like this:
My Definite Selections:
Steve Tikolo (Cpt). Obvious choice. Bat/spin.
Thomas Odoyo (V.Cpt). Automatic selection. Bat/Seam.
Hitesh Modi. Past performance and experience get him in. Bat.
Peter Ongondo. Automatic pick on his bowling performances so far this year. Seam.
Kennedy Obuya. May be some doubts about fitness, a better choice than the other options available at the moment. Wkt/opening Bat.
Tanmay Mishra. Has done enough in the ODIs earlier to warrant a place. Bat
Collins Obuya. Possibly more for his batting than bowling. Bat/spin.
Nehemiah Odhiambo. Seems to be showing constant signs of improvement. Seam
Brijal Patel. Done enough to warrant selection. Possible opening partner to Kennedy. Bat/spin
Rajesh Bhudhia. It is difficult to pick from the younger bowlers, but will go with him on performance in the last Intercontinental Cup match. Seam.
There are then a couple of places I'm unsure about, simply as I have no idea how the players went in training. To complete the squad, I believe we need another player from each discipline: Batsman, Spinner, Seamer. Also a reserve Wicket Keeper.
Spinner between:
Stewart Kayne, Hiren Variaya, Rashmi Gami, Jimmy Kamande, Jadhavji Laxman.
Seamer between:
Kalpesh Patel, Ashish Karia, Rageb Aga (if available), Josephat Ababu and Tony Suji.
Batsman between:
Malhar Patel, Jimmy Kamande, Stewart Kayne, Jadhavji Jeshani, Amit Bhudia, possibly Tony Suji.
Wicket keeper/Batsman between:
Timothy Muange, Alex Obanda, possibly Maurice Ouma.
There were also a couple of players mentioned in the provisional squad who I do not know enough about to put forward.

Anonymous Comments

Just a quick note to the people who posted comments yesterday and today and may be wondering why they were not accepted. I don't mind anyone having a dig at someone or something, but cannot abide people who hide behind anonimity. If you feel your comments are worth publishing, put your name to them, especially if you want to criticise someone. If you do not have the courtesy/courage to do this, I cannot be bothered to have the courtesy of publishing your views.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Good coverage From Local Press

It has taken a while for the local press to show interest in the cricket scene, but this week has shown a marked improvement, certainly by the Nation. Today sees two good articles on Kenya's preparations to face Canada. The first, by Chris Tsuma in the Nation focusses on Thomas Odoyo looking forward to facing Canada again. It is well worth a read as it also touches on the youth players, Kennedy's return to the squad and the upcoming NPCA tournament.
Today's Standard carries the other story which concerns itself more with the progress being made by the team, and the centuries scored in the practice match. Harper is reported as saying that the batting line up has shown great improvement, which is certainly heartening news. He is also reported to be happy to have Kennedy Obuya back in the squad citing his experience as a big boost. Reading between the lines, I would suggest that this indicates Kennedy may well get the nod for the Canada tour, again I feel good news.
Oscar Pilipili's article then goes on to focus on the player transfers in the NPCA league which makes very interesting reading. He quotes Parklands Chairman, Nilesh Lakhani as saying
"PSC has signed Kamande and we shall be having two new players who are members of the national team before the NPCA league kicks off,"
Parklands seem to have upgraded their facilities, and Lakhani believes this to be a major attraction for ambitious players. With the aquisition of national team players and the facilities to train them, I wonder if Parklands are eyeing a spot in the Super League next season. No doubt Premier club and Kanbis B will have every intention of seeing that doesn't happen.

Akshar LEague Standings After 16 Matches

Akshar A's big win over Naivasha puts them in a very strong spot in terms of qualifying for the finals of the event, and may leave Eldoret rueing their forfeited matches. They will need to get maximum points from their last match, and hope Akshar A get less than 8 from their last two. My money would be on Akshar, especially after this weekend.

Age and Youth Destroy Naivasha

It was a case of the future and the past combining for Akshar A as they blitzed Naivasha in Nakuru over the weekend. Winning the toss, Akshar A elected to bat and despite sunny conditions, were soon in trouble at 5/39. With Naivasha in the driving seat, it was under 19 player, Divyang who stepped up to steady the ship recording his first half-century in the tournament. His steady 70 ensured that Akshar A put on 178 before they were finally all out. Pick of the bowling for Naivasha was Dharam with 5 wickets.
In reply, it was veteran speedster Ghanshayam (known as the 'Brett Lee' of Nakuru) who did the damage ensuring that Naivasha were skittled out for the lowest total yet, a mere 20 runs. He took 5 of the 8 wickets for Akshar A giving them a huge 158 run victory, and was involved in two of the others. Naivasha were missing two batsmen, which did not help matters, but they had no answer to the 45-year-old's swing.
Akshar A Innings:
Dilip………….Ct & B…………...Dharam…..02
Lakho………..Ct & B…………..Amardeep...15
Dipesh……….NOT OUT…..…...…………….02
Naivasha Innings
Amardeep….run out (Ghanshyam)…........01
Himanshu…Retired Hurt.(Ghanshyam)..04
Santosh…..NOT OUT……………………....…..00
two players of Naivasha did not bat
Akshar A Win by 158 runs.
Akshar A: Bat - 4, Bowl - 4, Win - 12. Total 20
Naivasha: Bowl - 4. Total 4

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thirty Teams Confirmed For New NPCA Season

The NPCA 2006 season is due to kick off this weekend with a slight increase in the total number of teams taking part, and an overall increase in player numbers as well. The competition split into four divisions as follows: Super, Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3.
(Last seasons standings in brackets):
Super League sees defending Champions Kanbis Sports Club 'A' (S-1) take on Aga Khan Sports Center 'A' (S-4), Nbi Gymkhana Sports Club 'A' (S-5), Kongonis Cricket Club 'A' (S-7), Swamibapa Cricket Club 'A' (S-2), Sir Ali Muslim Club 'A' (S-6) and Nbi Jaffery Sports Club 'A' (S-3).
Kanbis would probably be the pre season favourites to retain the title, but will no doubt face a stiff challenge from both Swamibapa and Jaffery. There are some good youngsters in some of these teams, so look to see some of them make a name for themselves this season.
Division 1, which gains an extra team this year after two teams were promoted from Division 2 but only 1 dropped, comprises Kanbis Sports Club 'B' (D1-1), Parklands Sports Club - Rhinos (D2-2), Ngara Sports Club (D1-6), Swamibapa Cricket Club 'B' (D1-3), Shree Cutchi Leva Youth League (D1-5), Kongonis Cricket Club 'B' (D1-4), Premier Club (D1-2) and Ruaraka Sports Club 'A' (D2-1).
Division 2: Nairobi Nookers Cricket Club (D2-4), Simba Union Sports Club (D3-1), Nbi Gymkhana Sports Club 'B' (D2-3), Qutbis Sports Club 'A' (D2-7), Stray Lions Cricket Club 'A' (D2-6), Aga Khan Sports Center 'B' (D2-5), Nbi Institute (D1-7).
Division 3: Golden XI (D3-6), Oshwal XI (New), Nbi Jaffery Sports Club 'B' (D3-4), Stray Lions 'B' (New), Parklands Sports Club - Ndovu (D3-5), Telca Cricket Club (New), Ruaraka Sports Club 'B' (New), Sir Ali Muslim Club 'B (D3-2).
The two teams that competed last year that are not this year are Qutbis 'B' (D3-7) and Krishna XI (D3-3).
It is good to see the tournament expand by two teams overall this season. Hopefully, this is the sign of things to come and we will see even more teams joining next year.
According to the NPCA, team entries have all been received and the Fixtures for the season are being prepared for release, with the matches expected to commence as soon as July 23rd. There have also been consultations with the Umpires Association regarding the Rules and Regulations which will govern all future cricket tournaments under the auspices of the NPCA. This is with the view of bringing the playing conditions in line with international standards as far as possible.
With the lines in the sand now drawn, it is now time for the competition to begin. will of course try to bring you as many results and scorecards as possible. I am however reliant on people in Kenya for my information, so any cricketers out there in Nairobi who wish to email me with results/match reports, you are more than welcome. Here's wishing all players and officials an exciting and enjoyable season.

Canada Name Team For Matches Against Kenya

Canada have named their 14 man squads for the three games against Kenya. No real surprises to the teams, and they will need to be treated with caution. While Kenya should dispose of them faily easily, there are potential match winners in both Canadian line ups, so there is no space for slackness.
1. John Davison - Captain
2. Qaiser Ali
3. Ashish Bagai
4. Geoff Barnett
5. Umar Bhatti
6. Ian Billcliff*
7. Pubudu Dassanayaka*
8. Sunil Dhaniram
9. Haninder Dhillon
10. Stewart Heaney
11. Don Maxwell
12. Henry Osinde
13. Naresh Patel
14. Puvendran Ravishankar

Team Canada for the 2 ODIs versus Kenya - Aug. 5th, 6th

1. John Davison - Captain
2. Qaiser Ali
3. Ashish Bagai
4. Umar Bhatti
5. Desmond Chumney
6. George Codrington
7. Sunil Dhaniram
8. Haninder Dhillon
9. Stewart Heaney
10. Nicholas Ifill
11. Don Maxwell
12. Henry Osinde
13. Kevin Sandher
14. Sanjay Thuraisingam

Odoyo, Kamande Change Clubs

There is a very good article in today's Nation entitled "Kennedy is back with national team squad." While it obviusly deals with the return of Kennedy Obuya to team training, it also has a brief run down on the spin options available for Kenya as well as a brief flash of news about the two transfers in the NPCA. Thomas Odoyo, who was with Nairobi Jafferys will now play for last year's Champions, Kanbis. A big coup for them, and one that will no doubt firm them as favourites to retain the title. Jimmy Kamande moves from title contenders Swamibapa to Parklands, a move that may well give him more of an opportunity to shine.
In other news that will no doubt please at least a couple of the regulars to the forum, Lameck Onyango has been given the all-clear by the team physio to resume training. Martin Suji and, one would assume Alfred Luseno, remain on the injury list.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Kennedy Back In Squad

This news has just been passed on to me from Kenya. Apparently Kennedy Obuya has ironed out his differences with the board and is available for selection. This is great news for Kenya as it means that all things being equal, he will at least be able to open the batting for us against Canada, and so take care of one of the 'positions of concern' within the team. Whom will partner him is still an issue, but his experience and fighting spirit will no doubt be a welcome addition. As with Ouma, now that the disciplinary issue is resolved, this should be the last of it. It is now time to focus on the matches ahead.

Only 2 Associates For Twenty-20 World Cup '07

The ICC announced yesterday that the World Cricket League, to be held in Nairobi early next year between the top 6 Associates, will also be used as a qualifier for the Twenty-20 World Cup to be held in South Africa. While this will give some added incentive to the Associates, who will be using the event as a warm up before the main World Cup in the West Indies, I also feel it sells the Associates short. Firstly, I think it is the form of cricket in which an Associate is most likely to defeat a Full member, and so the 'World Cup' should feature more than just two non-test nations. Second, and just as important, it makes an ODI event a qualifier for a Twenty-20 event. You have to be kidding me. These are two totally different games, and it would be like basing the ODI table on the best Test performances. Yes, there will be some similarities, but they are different games, and the qualification should reflect this. If the ICC are going to take the Twenty-20 format seriously, which it seems like they are, they should give the Associates a real qualifying event. I would not be surprised if this threw up some surprise results. Just as I think it is a format where an Associate has a greater chance of beating a Full member, I think the same applies to the lower ranked Associates standing a better chance against those ranked above them. It could potentially be a really good tournament, and may even be a catalyst for aiding the spread of cricket in the non-traditional areas. I'm sure any of the top associates would be only too happy to play host.

A Foregone Conclusion?

Today's Nation has an article entitled 'Team For Canada To Be Decided On Friday' in which it lists several players it considers automatic picks to be selected for the Canada tour. The article, written by Chris Tsuma says:
"Barring injuries, loss of form or gross misconduct, vice captain Thomas Odoyo's name should be the first on the selectors list after the captain's.
The same goes for first change bowler Peter Ongondo, wicketkeeper and opening batsman Maurice Ouma, Tony Suji whose batting came alive with a maiden first class century in Namibia last year, Tanmey Mishra and Brijal Patel as well as Malhar Patel and all rounder Rajesh Bhudhia."
I'm afraid that I have to take issue with some of the above, but first the ones I agree with: Odoyo, Ongondo and Mishra have all played well enough this year to warrant a place. Brijal Patel is a bit more iffy, but held the A team together with his batting in the Atul Shah tournament, then came good with a century in the practice match. That should be enough to get him a place.
Malhar Patel and Rajesh Bhudhia, I think have work to do to convince the selectors. Patel showed signs of potential in Denmark, but still needs improvement before he steps up to full internationals. Bhudhia will develop into a useful bowler for Kenya, and may well do enough to earn a place in the side. Neither however should be called automatic picks. There are several others in the squad who will by vying for their spots, and they need to prove to the selectors they are worthy.
Tony Suji I feel also has a lot of work to do to prove to selectors he is up to the challenge. He may indeed, as Tsuma points out, have scored a century against Namibia last year, but his figures in ODIs and the Intercontinental Cup this year are as follows: Vs. Zimbabwe: 25, 35, 6, 2 (avg 17). Vs. Bangladesh: (at 3)33, 11 (at 7) 33, (avg: 26). Vs. The Netherlands: 11. Average so far this year: 19.5 - not one would suggest figures that promt automatic selection as a batsman. I singled out the 33 off 22 he made batting at 7, as I feel this is a role he could still play for Kenya. He can bowl fairly tidily, and is a useful run-getter lower down the order. Again though, not an automatic selection and there are plenty of other players vying for the all-rounder spot.
Maurice Ouma is an even more unlikely pick to make the team at all, let alone as an automatic choice. His figures so far: Vs. Zimbabwe: 3,4,12,1 (avg 5). Vs. Bangladesh: 2, 16 (avg 9) Vs The Netherlands: 10. average so far this year: 5.5. Enough said.
Kenya do however need a wicket keeper, and unless the Kennedy Obuya issue is settled, this really leaves the choice betweem Ouma and Timothy Muange. The latter has shown some potential with the A team so far, and would certainly be my choice above Ouma on form this year.
Interestingly, the Nation also mentions Collins Obuya and Jimmy Kamande as being possible batting options. Surprising? Not really considering both scored centuries in the practise match, and have both played passibly with the bat this year in internationals, especially Obuya. Both players provide a spin option, and depending on the conditions in Canada, this may give them the edge over some of the other batting all rounders.
My automatic picks would be:
Tikolo, Modi, Odoyo, Ongondo, Mishra, possibly B.Patel, C. Obuya.
All the rest I feel need to fight it out for the remaining 7 places.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Modi Back On Song

Kenya's hero from the Intercontinental Cup match against The Netherlands seems to be back in form. Modi, who batted with a broken finger to secure Kenya a draw against the Dutch, has found it hard to get the injury completely healed, so it is great to see him making an unbeaten 80 off 89 balls as his side Chesham beat league rivals Amersham by 7 wickets over the weekend. His innings included 12 fours and a six and he also orchestrated a run out when in the field, so does not seem to be overly affected by the hangover from the injury any more, although he says:
"My finger will never be the same, though I can bat with a bit of soreness at times."
It is great to see him back playing and spending time in the middle. Hopefully this weekend is the sign of things to come.
Not much news yet of the other Kenyans overseas. Haverigg are not very good at updating their website, so it is difficult to know how Steve Tikolo is going. He hid take 4/69 with the ball on July 1st. No details on what he scored with the bat. Last week, their match was rained off so he didn't bat, and there are no details available yet for this week. Amit Bhudia's club Herning are not due to play again for another week or so.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Batsmen Dominate First Two Days Of Practice Match

It has been a good couple of days for Kenya's batsmen at the Ruaraka ground in Nairobi during the first two days of the practice match ahead of the tour to Canada. Despite overcast conditions, a very slow wicket has meant plenty of time in the middle for the batsmen, and lots of hard labour for the bowlers. There was little movement in the pitch for the seamers and virtually nothing for the spinners either, allowing those players who got their eye in to go on to big scores.
In the first innings, Brijal Patel and Collins Obuya both capitalised on the conditions to post centuries. Brijal finished on 105, and was only just outscored by Collins who made 109. I do not have details of any of the other scores although apparently most of the batsmen made starts. Some of these, such as the two centurions, went on to make decent scores, but others threw away their wickets. Tony Suji was one of the latter, managing less than 15 runs at (you guessed it) number three. I don't really think I need say more on this. Pick of the bowlers for the fielding team were Jimmy Kamande and Josephat Ababu who finished with three wickets apiece. Team 'A' (my nomenclature - they batted first) finished on 403 all out from 122 overs.
In reply, Team 'B' lost a couple of early wickets with Maurice Ouma again failing to make runs opening the batting. David Obuya made a start, but failed to live up to his brother's efforts. It was left to Jimmy Kamande, batting at 3, to bring some life back into the innings with the third and largest century of the match so far. His 131 will certainly have done his selection chances no harm at all, especially after his results with the ball. Thomas Odoyo is unbeaten on about 80, and there are still some of the all-rounders to go for team 'B' who finished day two some 120 runs behind on 280 (ish). The players had the weekend off training to spend time with their families but will be back in action again next week. This match will resume on the 20th and 21st, but I'm told at a different venue. Hopefully those players who have not yet batted will not be too disadvantaged by this.
Rumour has it that the team selection will be on the 22nd, so a crucial week for all those players on the fringes. Patel, Kamande and Collins Obuya will all no doubt be sleeping a little bit easier after their efforts of the last couple of days, though no one can afford to slack off. For the bowlers, there is still the next few days and then the rest of the match to make their claim.

Bread On The Table

There has been some criticism from certain quarters recently commenting that Kenya's players are having to look for other ways of making a living than training with the national team.
While it may be the case that a couple of the star players are able to earn more playing professionally overseas, it should be pointed out that the players are being looked after by Cricket Kenya as much as finances will allow. All players in the training squad are paid a daily allowance by Cricket Kenya, based on seniority. Their lunch consists of menus approved by Coach Roger Harper and is again provided by Cricket Kenya. Each player is medically insured - for example, almost the entire cost of Martin Suji's knee operation was covered by the insurance provided for the players by Cricket Kenya. On top of this, each member of the squad is also part of a corporate membership scheme at the Aga Khan Sports Centre, fully paid for by the administration. This enables them to use not only the cricket facilities, but the gymnasium and swimming pool free of charge throughout the year, as well as taking advantage of subsidised catering and bar facilities available there. With each player that plays an international match also earning a match fee that may well increase once Cricket Kenya secure a main sponsor, surely things have never looked brighter for Kenya's top cricketers. There is security that they did not previously have, and a committee specifically set up to look after their issues and futures.
Every administration be it government, cricket or tiddlywinks will no doubt have its critics. No one will ever stop that, but it would be nice if those critics would check the facts before making their attacks. Cricket Kenya have a lot to do before cricket is where we would like it to be, but they are trying and it is important that the public and players appreciate how much better off the situation is now than it was previously. Sponsors are in the pipeline and once they are on board, the money will be there to improve the situation further.
No one blames the players who can further their situations by playing professionally overseas doing so, but for people to come out and say that there is 'no bread on the table' is wrong, plain and simple. As for anyone feeling they are being under-paid, they simply need to perform on the pitch. After all, sponsorship dollars are tied pretty closely to performance, and if the team start performing to potential, there will soon be no shortage of sponsors lining up to pay not only Cricket Kenya, but also individual players for product endorsement. It is a different era that Kenyan cricket is moving into, one where players are paid to play, but in turn are expected to give a return on investment. This needs to be reflected in player attitudes, and in the way they approach the game and its promotion. It is not enough to sit back and let the administration do all the work. If they really want to make money from it, they need to help push cricket's growth themselves. They need to make themselves available to the public at matches, answer questions, go to schools and go on radio or TV. They need to do whatever it takes to raise interest in the game, and work harder than ever before on keeping it by winning their matches. Raise the public interest, and sponsorship dollars will follow. There is bread on the table already, but it could just as well be roast beef with gravy.