Saturday, January 20, 2007

No space for complacency

Kenya take on Canada today in the third match of the ICC Tri-series in Mombasa. Despite the host's massive win against Scotland to start the tournament, they must be careful to guard against complacency. On paper, form and home ground advantage, this is a match that Kenya should win. It is however a full ODI, and needs to be treated with the same attitude and concentration as any other. Kenya's more experienced players, the likes of Tikolo, Odoyo and Shah know this and need to ensure that they pass this on to the younger players. Kenya are a team beginning to find form just at the right time and should go into the match with confidence, but without arrogance. It would not do to slip up now when they can continue to exert mental pressure on their opponents before the WCL with another victory today.
All the above being said, from the quotes in today's Nation and Standard, it looks as though Roger Harper has instilled the right attitude in his players. It is likely that Kenya will field an unchanged line-up, after all, why change a winning team? One possible exception could be to have David Obuya keep wicket and open with Ravindu Shah; dropping Maurice Ouma to give Malhar Patel a run at one down. So far the selectors have stuck with Ouma despite a lack of runs, and it is hard to see them changing the line up that won their last game by 190 runs.
Canada I think do need to make a change or two. It was insane not to play Umar Bhatti alongside Osinde to open the bowling and I would expect to see them pair up again today.
Hopefully Mombasa residents will turn out to give the team the support they deserve. They are Kenya's top performing sports team and with two games this weekend, deserve to have a decent crowd behind them. Those that turn up will be rewarded with some really good exciting cricket.
As usual, for those not in Mombasa, Cricket Europe will be providing a live scorecard.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sweet, sweet victory!

What a great way to start 2007 for the national team!
For those that missed my report on Cricket Europe, and the articles in the rest of the press, Kenya belted Scotland by a massive 190 runs yesterday to win the first match in the Mombasa tri-series. Everything went pretty much right for Kenya from the toss onwards. We won it and elected to bat, scoring at between 5 and 6 an over for the first 40 odd overs, then accelerating in the last ten. In reply, Scotland were never in the hunt from the first over (a Thomas Odoyo maiden) and wickets fell at regular intervals to give Kenya an easy victory.
A look at how the players fared individually:
David Obuya top scored and looks as though he has sown up one opener's spot with his personal best of 73 (off 74).
Ravindu Shah is BACK - a fine half century from him (54 off 53); a really great effort after so long out of competetive cricket.
Tanmay Mishra makes his second half century in 3 games, also a personal best as his 66 (off 60) just passes his 64* against Bermuda.
Collins Obuya also records his first half-century in emphatic form with 64* off 62. He also took a wicket - the first in a long time, though it is doubtful he would have bowled had Kenya not been in such a commanding situation.
Thomas Odoyo produced yet another fantastic all-round performance. 46* off 26 with the bat followed by 6 overs, 2 maidens 0/11 with the ball. Only spoiled by not taking a wicket, but his pressure enabled Peter Ongondo to cash in with 3/30 off 7. This is beginning to develop into a powerful partnership for Kenya.
Nehemiah Odhiambo completed a good day for the seamers taking 3/25 off 7 - again a personal best in ODIs. Great effort from him, especially as one was clean bowled, the other 2 slip catches - all good fast bowler wickets in other words.
Hiren Varaiya showed he has character as well as talent. After going for 22 from his first 2 overs, he came back to only concede another 11 from the next 6 and weighed in with 2 wickets to take his tally so far to 14 from 7 matches.
Jimmy Kamande missed out on the opportunity to bat, but made up for it with his bowling: 1/13 off 5.2 (he took the final wicket of the day) as well as a catch early in the innings.
Only Steve Tikolo and Maurice Ouma will be dissapointed with their personal performances. Tikolo however has credit to burn and made up for his failure with the bat with three catches. He also held himself back from bowling allowing the younger players to build up experience. Good captaincy, and the fact that Kenya put up such a score without him contributing must be giving some of the other teams nightmares.
Maurice Ouma took a catch behind the stumps, but failed again with the bat. He will really be hoping to get some runs under his belt soon. So far, he averages only 15 from as many matches and needs to fulfil the potential he so clearly has soon if he is to be a long term option for Kenya.
All in all, this was a dominating performance by Kenya and sends out the message loud and clear to the other teams that they are the force to be reckoned with in Associate cricket. Certainly at ODI level. Canada take on the Scots today and the Kenyans will no doubt be watching closely before concentrating on the weekend's matches. Those of you in Mombasa need to get yourselves down to the MSC this weekend. If yesterday was anything to go by, there should be some great cricket going on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Battle resumes

After a brief lay-off from International matches during December, the national team are back in action again today as the campaign for the World Cup begins its next phase. Scotland are the opposition and Mombasa Sports club is the venue. Those of you in Mombasa, get yourselves down to the ground and give the team some support.
It should be a tough battle. Kenya are seen by many as the favourites for this tri-series, which also includes Canada. We have the home ground advantage and won our ODIs vs other Associates 5-0 in 2006 - two of these against Canada away. Scotland cannot be underestimated however, and many in Europe believe they, along with Ireland are one of the top two Associates. Hopefully we can set them right about that.
The Scots come off the most recent competetive cricket having drawn their Intercontinental cup game against the UAE last week, but the Kenyans have been in intensive training over the last month, so should be fit and ready to go.
Players to watch:
For Kenya: Steve Tikolo & Ravindu Shah will be key with the bat and Thomas Odoyo and Hiren Varaiya with the ball.
For Scotland: Neil McCallum comes off a Century in his first innings against the UAE (Kenya will be hoping he lives up to his initials: NFI) and Captain Craig Wright is a tough all rounder. MSC is traditionally a spinner's pitch, so Scotland's most threatening bowler will probably be one of Ross Lyons or Glen Rogers.
For those not in Mombasa who want to follow the match, Cricket Europe will be providing live coverage.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Individual ODI stats 2006

I have been doing some number crunching and have come up with the stats for Kenyan players in 2006. The tables can be found here on Cricket Europe - Kenya.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

NPCA replaced by Tanzania

Uganda's tour to Kenya will now start against neighbours Tanzania rather than an NPCA XI as earlier scheduled. I can't say that I am really happy about this. It is great in that it gives Tanzania a match, but it also takes away a good chance for Kenya's up and coming players to play a competetive game. One of the reasons given for this move was that Tanzania would offer better opposition than the NPCA side. If Tanzania are really better than the best the NPCA can offer, it is not a good reflection on the current position of Kenyan cricket and Cricket Kenya need to get moving to do something about this ASAP.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for our neighbours coming over and playing matches. Both are improving sides and the stronger East Africn cricket is, the stronger it will make Kenyan cricket in the long term. My worry is that we may spend too much time improving the neighbours without doing enough to improve our own situation. Fine, get Tanzania to Play Uganda, but why not get them both to start their tours by playing one or more of the regional sides. It is not as though this is an unusual idea - most tours used to include matches against local opposition in preparation for the internationals. It gives the touring sides a chance to blood new players and to adjust to local conditions. It also gives the players in the local sides the chance to play stronger opposition than they may be used to. Both sides benefit. This latter part is important. Cricket Kenya should be commended for helping Tanzania and Uganda, but in return would it be too much to ask that they give our up and coming sides some help in return?