Saturday, April 25, 2009

U19 Squad named

Kenya's Squad to the Africa Zone U19 world cup qualifiers has been named with an interesting mix of players, though only one, Taaha Sulemanjee, come from outside of Nairobi.

Karan Kaul leads the side and will be a key player with both bat and ball, though it is the latter that is his stronger suit. Interestingly, it is 15 year old Kennedy Owino who will deputise, though this may not be all that surprising considering that he has captained at U15 level and is widely regarded as a future leader at this level as well. He is a very talented batsman and one that should relish the challenge of stepping up to the older age group.

Likewise Emmanuel "Fundi" Bundi, who purely on talent looks to be one of the brightest prospects on the horizon. Capable of scoring quickly, this is sometimes his downfall as, a bit like Alex Obanda, he can have a tendency to try and hit everything to the boundary. Hopefully with age, this will be tempered and he still has plenty of time. this could be a very valuable learning experience for him.

Harrison Ambani and Paul Anjere are two players that I saw last year in the nets during training and are players I feel will one day go on to great things. Ambani in particular has a fantastic action and if he grows (he was very slight in build), will develop into a very useful quick bowler. Good to see these two selected - I hope they get a chance and confirm my expectations.

I know little about the rest of the players, so any light anyone can shed will be appreciated. All the best to the team, hopefully with the pressure of qualifying not there (we qualify automatically as hosts), they will be able to both put on a top display and gain valuable experience. With Angara and Suji to oversee things, they at least have two of the best coaches in the country to look after them. Best wishes.

Full squad:

Joseph Angara Team Coach Swamibapa Club
Martin Suji Team Manager Kanbis Club
Karan Kaul (Captain) Bowler All rounder Simba Union
Kennedy Owino Ochieng (Vice Captain) Batsman Telca Cricket Club
Keval Anilkumar Patel Off Spinner Aga Khan Sports Club
Mahendra Mansukh Ashani Opening Bowler Telca Cricket Club
Vikram Saleel Thampy Opening Batsman Aga Khan Sports Club
Emmanuel Bundi Ringera Batsman All Rounder Telca Cricket Club
Harrison Ambani Angila Medium Pace Bowler Ngara Sports Club
Abdulqair Murtaza Tayabali Najmi Opening Batsman Qutbi Sports Club
Rahul Harish Vishram Wicket Keeper Batsman Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Cricket Club
Taaha Abizar Fakhruddin Sulemanjee Off Spinner Mombasa Sports Club
Raj Hemchand Savala Left Arm Spinner Oshwal Cricket Club
Paul Anjere Angila Batsman All rounder Telca Cricket Club
Lucas Oluoch Ndandason Opening Bowler Simba Union
Joseph Onyango Ochieng Medium Pace Bowler Ngara Sports Club

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who will be the next Captain?

With news coming out on Kenya's return home that though Steve Tikolo will continue to play for Kenya in the lead up to the World Cup (but not in it), the 3rd/4th place play off loss to The Netherlands was his last match as captain of the side. A shame it was lost, but not everything can have a happy ending. This means that there will be a vacancy at the top and deputy positions as the responsibility shifts onto new shoulders. So a look at the potential options for the new skipper:

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 30 probably still has about 4 years of service left.

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. Also 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. 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. Peter Ongondo. At 32 one of the older statesmen of the side and will probably be one of a crop of players to move on after the World Cup. Certainly has the experience and has proved himself as a mentor for the younger players as well. Would provide a level head at the top and will need to lead from the front in the bowling department whether appointed or not.

4. 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 other 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.

The above 4 are the most likely candidates with no one else really offering the package required:
Kennedy Obuya would be a good leader, but is the same vintage as Tikolo.
Onyango, though in the form of his life must also be nearing the end of his career.
Obanda, Waters, Bhudia & Otieno are too young and are yet to fully cement their positions anyhow.
Odhiambo & Varaiya are possible dark horses as both will almost certainly remain Key players for Kenya over the next decade. One of these could well sneak in as the next Vice Captain should one of the older players be chosen as Skipper.


On a different note, the Africa zone qualifiers for the U19 World Cup are due to get under way soon. No news yet on the Kenya squad, though several of our umpires have jetted out to officiate. Kenya are due to host this event in 2010 and it is vitally important that the team manage what others have not for a very long time - qualification for the U19 World Cup. Will keep updated with news as I get it...