Sunday, July 19, 2009

Odumbe wants back...

This in itself is not really news. Kenya's former captain has made no secret of the fact that he want to return to cricket on the completion of his ban next month. This article in the Nation certainly makes it sound as though he would be the answer to all Kenya's prayers. Unfortunately, I believe it to be incomplete in its assessment. Even if he has been training hard, a return to top class cricket for anyone after 5 years out would be incredibly difficult. At 40, several years after most cricketers have retired, it should be well nigh impossible. Steve Tikolo, a better batsman, is not yet that age and despite looking fitter than he has for years is beginning to find age is taking its toll. To expect 40 year old hand eye co-ordination to be able to compete at top level is optimistic at best and insulting to Kenya's current team at worst.

Kenya cricket did not lose its lustre because it lost Odumbe. He was a great player and his absence on the pitch in the early years no doubt did not help Kenya's cause, but this very absence was a symptom of the malaise, not the cause of it. Guilty or not, and there are Test cricketers that escaped with less having seemingly done more, the fact remains that Odumbe should be well past his best by now.

The Associate game has also changed a lot since he last played for Kenya. Yes, we do now lose to the likes of Ireland and yes that rankles, but it is as much a part of those nations improving as Kenya moving backwards. To suggest he would walk back into the side as early as August is nonsense. Even if he had time to prove himself by then, which he won't - there are simply not enough matches to do so, there is the question of whether his influence would harm or heal. This is a delicate time as a side under new leadership tries to rebuild. Despite the scores in Ireland, there was indication that a corner had been turned. Returning yet another ex-captain and highly opinionated player to the fold is unlikely to help matters.

With the above being said, there is also weight to much of what Odumbe said in this interview. Kenya's administrators must do more to spread the game. If there truly are youngsters playing in Kisumu, for God's sake help them with coaching and facilities - this should be a hot-bed of cricket talent. Restore the NPCA to former strength, spread the game properly in all provinces and ensure that Kenya continues to get regular games against provincial sides from overseas. His fears that Uganda will catch us up and overtake are well founded and he is not alone in these. Voicing these concerns Odumbe sounds like a man with Kenya's cricket interests at heart (or possibly a man with an axe to grind?). When he talks about waltzing back into the national side by August, he sounds like a man with his own interests first. Next month he will get the first opportunity to prove which he is. Only time will tell if he is up to it and if it is really Odumbe the leader or Odumbe the egotist we will see back. For everybody's sake, not least his own, I hope it is the former.


Amar said...

Ireland's opening match of the Intercontinental Cup against Kenya was played at Eglinton in the north-west region, rather that the two main centers in Dublin and Belfast.
Kenya must also take Intercontinental games out of the two main centers Mombasa and Nairobi to places like Nakuru as grounds are being upgraded for the 2010 Under-19 World Cup, which has already been stripped of from the country. If we can find a venue in Kisumu it would be great, Until top class cricket is not played in this places, interest wont grow.
The Ground in King City Canada looks very good, Every thing there is Temporarily set up, Some thing that Cricket Kenya emulate. My be a football field, or School grounds, in Braeburn Kisumu International School, Aga Khan Academy and Kisumu International School can be used.
Peponi School ground in Ruiru can be used for side games when team from India, England, Pakistan and South African send their second sides. As It is Just outside Nairobi It can be used for warm up games before the main games in Nairobi, By doing so even centrals will be kept interested.

Amar said...

If there truly are youngsters playing in Kisumu, as Odumbe said in his interview. The following organizations can take the inishative and come together
Braeburn Kisumu
Agakhan Sports Centre (Kisumu)
Kisumu Simba Club
Nyanza Club -Kisumu
Goan Institute Kisumu? ...
Kisumu are the current Woolmatt champions, is good enough to suggest that there is enough talent there.
The Jomo Kenyatta Sports Ground should be expanded.