Friday, June 19, 2009

Five Shortlisted for Captaincy

Also according to cricinfo's source close to the selection process, the search for Kenya's next captain has been narrowed to 5 with the decision expected to be made within the week after each candidate has had an interview with the selection panel.

There are no real surprises in the five names put forward. All are seen as key players for the current team and all have a decent level of experience to draw on. In alphabetical order of first name, they are:
Collins Obuya (27), Hiren Varaiya (25), Jimmy Kamande (30), Maurice Ouma (26) and Thomas Odoyo (31).

When Steve Tikolo announced his retirement, I ran a post having a look at some of the candidates I thought might make it. for those that missed it here are my thoughts on the final 5 in the order I think most likely to be given the duty:

1. Thomas Odoyo. As both the longest continuing servant of Kenyan cricket after Tikolo and the team's current Vice Captain, Odoyo has to be the favourite to take over the mantle. In his favour are his experience, his ability to lead from the front with both bat and ball and his natural leadership ability. There has been a recent problem with injuries however and the load of captaincy on top of his other duties may be considered too great - there are not many genuine all rounders who have also made great captains. Despite this and the recent slump in form, he is still the most likely to succeed Tikolo. At 31 probably still has about 4 years of service left and will certainly still be there for the World Cup.

2. Jimmy Kamande. Also an all rounder, Kamande is less of a key player than Odoyo, so the strain would be less. He has experience of captaincy at both club and Elite League and has a tendency to show a more attacking streak that Tikolo does. At 30, he has probably about the same time left as Odoyo, but is less beset by injuries and has really grown as a player in the last 12 months during which he has often been the player standing up to save the team. If not selected as Captain, would probably make a very good understudy and will probably be needed as such if Odoyo is made captain and misses games due to injury.

3. Collins Obuya. After Tikolo, perhaps the most sensible of Kenya's batsmen in recent times and at 27 looks to have more time left in the game than the 2 previous possibles. Like Kamande a great fielder and will set a good example in both innings. One of the other players who is really showing consistent signs of improvement at the moment. His biggest asset though would probably be his age and the fact that having burst onto the scene in the 2003 World Cup, he will know how do deal with the media and pressures that come with the profile.

4. Hiren Varaiya. Of all the bowlers, it has been said that spinners are most likely to make the best captains as they rely on intellect and guile to get their opponents out. Varaiya is certainly a quality spinner and has an understanding of the game that could see him develop into a fine captain. Unlike the other candidates however, he is not a key figure with the bat and in a time when Kenya desperately needs someone to lead from the front in this department, it may be a case of the wrong timing. If not chosen as Captain, would certainly make a fine understudy as he has the determination and toughness that is needed in a leadership role. As the youngest of the candidates, he may yet get his opportunity if he misses out this time round.

5. Maurice Ouma. For my mind the dark horse of the 5, despite being of an age that would be perfect. As his nickname (Pagal) suggests, Ouma's great talent has at times in the past been undone by a reckless streak. In the field, he is tidy behind the stumps and like all wicket keepers possesses not only a good understanding of what is going on around him, but would be in the perfect position to asses how each bowler is faring on a ball by ball basis. With the bat, there are still too many starts that are not carried into big figures and his propensity to be involved in runouts hints at a lack of communication. The above being said, he is held in high regard by his fellow players and this could be the responsibility that turns a good player into a great one.

The above is just my opinion. There is a poll on the right for you to let us know who you think should lead Kenya to the next World Cup and beyond and you can always have your say on our discussion page on facebook.

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