Saturday, July 04, 2009

Tikolo leads Kenyan fightback after Irish Onslaught

Steve Tikolo (right) the ex-Skipper and veteran of Kenya's team yesterday proved once again his value to the team as he helped Kenya recover from what seemed like a disasterous start to his successor's first game in charge. Losing the toss, Kenya were asked to bowl and though Peter Ongondo was his usual miserly self, Kenya's seamers simply were unable to induce the Irish openers Paul Stirling and Jeremy Bray to play enough to look dangerous. Content to wait for the bad balls, the pair put on a mammoth 182 before Bray (89) finally edged a Nehemiah Odhiambo delivery to Tikolo to give Kenya a glimmer of hope. Earlier, both the 18 year old Stirling and Bray had both brought up fine 50s as they set about building what looked to be the platform for a huge first innings total.

With tea taken for 197-1, it was definitely the Irish in the ascendency and the hosts continued to pile on the pressure with Stirling bringing up his maiden First Class century with a six of Ongondo. It was the Kenyan seamer who had the final say of the contest however as four balls later he induced the nick from Stirling for Ouma to pouch his first catch as skipper. Alex Cusack and Andre Botha added a further 46 runs before Tikolo started a run that could just have brought Kenya back into the contest.

Botha was the first to fall finding Seren Waters at midwicket and Kevin O'Brien followed first ball giving Tikolo a return catch. Andrew White was the next to depart in the most unusual of circumstances as the ball rebounded of the short leg fielder for Ouma to complete the catch. Tikolo then bowled Gary Wilson with the score on 313 and then to complete his 5-for had the dangerman Cusack popping one up for Collins Obuya to catch at short leg in the final over of play. Ireland closed the day on 323-7 with the game still up for grabs. Given the score at tea, Kenya will be very happy with how their final two sessions went and will be looking to mop up the Irish tail quickly today so they can take their turn at the crease. After their comeback yesterday, it is vital that they do this to return the pressure to Ireland.

Tikolo's figures of 5-67 are particularly impressive and give him yet another career best. There must be concern though that the 20 overs he bowled may take a toll on the 38 year old's batting.
Kenya have selceted a deep batting line up and they will need to apply themselves in the same manner as the Irish openers if they are going to reap any rewards from the first innings. Having had little competetive practice, the top order especially will need to be at their most vigilant to keep out the Irish attack. If they can do so and if the bowlers complete their job this morning, then there could yet be light at the end of the tunnel for Kenya.

picture taken WCL 2007 copyright Kenya

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ireland chases fourth ICC Intercontinental Cup title as it takes on Kenya in Eglinton on Friday

ICC Press Release:

Captain Kyle McCallan says his team hungry for more success

Defending champion Ireland launches its campaign for an unprecedented fourth ICC Intercontinental Cup title when it takes on Kenya at Woodvale Road, Eglinton from Friday.

After failing to reach the final of the inaugural event in 2004, Ireland has won three successive events. And such is the dominance of Ireland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup that it has won 12 of its 18 matches in the history of the four-day first-class event.

In addition to this, the Irish have undoubtedly been the best and most consistent non-Test playing side having won Associate tournaments in all the three formats of the game, including the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in South Africa in April.

While Kenya watched the ICC World Twenty20 2009 on television, Ireland was in action and accounted for Bangladesh in the first stage to qualify for the Super Eights where it lost to New Zealand and eventual finalists Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Captain William Porterfield, fast bowler Boyd Rankin and wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien, who were key members of the side in April as well as last month, will miss the opener against Kenya. Porterfield and Rankin are on county duties with Gloucestershire and Warwickshire while O’Brien is recovering from an ankle injury which is expected to keep him out for up to six weeks.

Ireland has named an uncapped fast bowler Andrew Britton for its opening match in the tournament. The 21-year-old has earned a call-up after an impressive performance with Ireland ‘A’ in Yorkshire during the week. He has also represented Ireland in the ICC U/19 Cricket World Cup in Malaysia where he was his country’s most successful bowler with nine wickets from six matches.

In Porterfield’s absence, experienced off-spinner Kyle McCallan will lead the home side in what he expects to be an exciting contest. “It has all the makings of being a great game. We’ve had some great tussles with Kenya over the years, and our victory over them to win our first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2005, stands out as one of the best performances by an Irish cricket team,” said McCallan, who has taken 50 wickets in 23 first-class matches.

In that nail-biting final in Windhoek, Ireland outsmarted Kenya by six wickets. Batting first, Kenya rode on Steve Tikolo’s 177 and Hitesh Modi’s 106 to declare its first innings at 401-8. In reply, powered by Niall O’Brien’s 106 Ireland made a brave declaration at 313-4 to concede a 88-run first innings. Kenya, in its second outing, was bowled out for 156 with McCallan taking 4-34 and Andrew White picking up 3-24. But Ireland successfully achieved the victory target of 245 with six wickets to spare to leave Kenya shell-shocked.

“In my eyes, it (victory in Windhoek) is up there with our wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh. That game was perhaps the defining moment for the current squad, and you can trace the current success back to that win. It gave us a sense of belief and the confidence to go on and dominate Associate cricket,” McCallan said.

McCallan added that Ireland’s cricketers are fond of four-day cricket. “The four-day format of the game is the one which I personally, and all the team enjoy. You can experiment with different field settings and the bowlers get a chance to operate in long spells.

“We have a great record in this format of the game, and haven’t been beaten since 2004 (when Scotland beat Ireland by eight wickets in Dublin), a game that I missed! We’ve won the last three ICC Intercontinental Cups, and we are still hungry for more titles. We want to continue our magnificent run.”

Ireland coach Phil Simmons is also keen to carry recent success into the ICC Intercontinental Cup. “We’ve had a good 2009 so far, winning the World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa, and beating Bangladesh in the ICC World Twenty20. I want to keep that winning momentum, and I think we can do that with the current squad,” said Simmons, a former West Indies all-rounder.

Simmons said Kenya had named a very strong side for the match but expected the African side to be rusty, having not played any top level cricket since the April event. “Kenya has named a very experienced squad, and has some very talented cricketers in their midst.

“It may find it difficult to adjust to Irish conditions, although it has been warm here in the past few weeks. Kenya may be a bit rusty as it hasn’t played a lot of cricket since the event in South Africa in April. That will be a big advantage for us, but it certainly won’t be easy.”

Kenya has named a side that includes a new captain in 26-year-old wicketkeeper Maurice Ouma who takes over from 38-year-old Steve Tikolo who has been a role model for many Kenyan cricketers, including Ouma. “I have learned a lot from Tikolo’s leadership for the time that I have played alongside him. I liked his leadership qualities like in psyching up players and game plan,” he said.

Kenya and Ireland, besides the 2005 final, also met in the previous event at the Gymkhana Club Ground in Nairobi where Ireland won by an innings and 65 runs. Overall, Kenya has played 17 matches in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, winning six and losing four.

Rudi Koertzen of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires will stand in the four-day match along with Paul Baldwin of the Associate and Affiliate International Umpires Panel.

Teams (to be selected from):

Ireland: Kyle McCallan (captain), Andre Botha, Jeremy Bray, Andrew Britton, Peter Connell, Alex Cusack, Trent Johnston, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Poynter, Paul Stirling, Regan West, Andrew White, Gary Wilson.

Kenya: Ouma (captain), Jimmy Kamande (vice-captain), Kennedy Obuya, Alex Obanda, Steve Tikolo, Collins Obuya, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Lameck Ngoche, Peter Ongondo, Hiren Varaiya, Rakep Patel, Elijah Otieno (pictured), Seren Waters, David Obuya

Umpires: Rudi Koertzen and Paul Baldwin

Distribution of points:

14 = for an outright win (so, maximum of 20 points per match)

7 = for an outright tie

6 = first innings lead (retained irrespective of the outright result)

3 each = for a first innings tie

10 each = if a match is abandoned without a ball being bowled

7 each = in a match with more than 10 hours lost due to interruptions, plus any points scored in the first innings

20 = for forfeiting match, plus additional penalty the Events Technical Committee may like to impose

About ICC Intercontinental Cup

The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception five years ago and now the ICC’s premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members’ cricket schedule.

There will be a total of US$250,000 in prize money for the Associate and Affiliate teams taking part in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2009-10 with US$100,000 for the winners and US$40,000 for the runners-up.

Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event then evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.

This year’s format will include seven teams (Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland and Zimbabwe XI), while a new competition, the ICC Intercontinental Shield will involve four teams below that, namely Bermuda, Namibia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in all three events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider, Canada in the 2006-07 event and Namibia in 2007-08.

picture: Elijah Otieno bowling in practice match 2008. copyright Kenya

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Past stars edged out by Jamhuri youngsters

This report from International umpire Subhash Modi (right) is welcome news at a dark time for Kenyan cricket. I sincerely hope we see more news of this sort in times to come rather than the sort that has dominated the last few days:

"I stood as an umpire with Lalji Bhudia in a friendly cricket match between Old Jamhuri School Boys(Former Duke of Gloucester) invitation XI vs. current school boys of the same school. The match was played on Saturday afternoon at the Simba Union Cricket Club. I enjoyed umpiring as Harilal Shah, a former Kenya Cricket Captain along with Aasif Karim (top scorer with 64 runs) , Bipin Vora, current chairman of NPCA (with 20 runs) featured in the same match which the old boys lost by 14 runs. I take this as a part of development and cricket should again be played regularly in Kenya also on Saturday afternoons to create more interest in younger generation. Lucas the captain of the current Jamhuri High School played well for his match winning 54 runs. Other cricketing personalities who came to watch the game were Jimmy Rayani(former chairman of KCA), R.M. Patel(Secretary of Nairobi Gymkhana) and few former chairmen of Nairobi Gymkhana, past and present chairmen of KCU&SA."

Good on the youngsters for getting the win and as noted by Modi, this is exactly the sort of initiative that will help the game grow so good on the oldies for giving up their time to promote the game.

Cricket Kenya: Groundwork to continue

Despite the ICC's recent decision to strip Kenya of hosting rights to the 2010 Under 19 World Cup, Cricket Kenya has confirmed that the upgrade work to the grounds around the country will continue as planned. In an email to Kenya, Samir Inamdar (right) the Chairman of Cricket Kenya stated that:

"The grounds improvement programme across the country will continue unabated. This is important because we would like to see our infrastructure at clubs improve for the game to benefit"

Writing from London where he is conducting meetings related to formulating Cricket Kenya's formal response, Mr Inamdar also said that Cricket Kenya

"will be claiming our money spent in good faith to get our venues in order from the ICC"

and that

"The ICC's Chief Executives Committee has determined that in the event Canada (who are due to host this event in 2012) concede that they cannot hold it, CK will get the first opportunity to secure these rights."

It is good to hear from Cricket Kenya on this and especially that the upgrading of the grounds will continue. Even without hosting the U19 World Cup, this will at least benefit players in all three hubs who will get to play more games on higher quality pitches which can only improve the quality of Kenya's game overall.

It is also heartening to see Cricket Kenya gearing up for a fight to recoup some of their losses from the ICC. Given how the ICC has been forthcoming in reimbursing Test nations in similar situations, there is at least some hope that this will have a successful outcome.

That Kenya gets first bite at the cherry should Canada not be ready is bitter-sweet and at first glance smacks of the divide and rule mentality employed by the old British Empire. For Kenya to gain from this, another Associate must fail and that is something one would hate so see happen, even if it did benefit Kenya. There is also no guarantee that just because Kenya are to be given first opportunity to secure the rights that this will in fact happen. Going on recent events, it does not look about whether a country is capable of hosting, but capable of generating the ICC higher revenue. If for example, India decided they wanted to host, I wonder how long Kenya's application would even sit in the consideration tray.

Lastly, there is no word yet on the fate of Kenya's U19 team. This situation is not just about money, it is also about players. That they were sent under strength and under prepared to the regional qualifiers can only be blamed on Cricket Kenya, but for the team to finish so low also rests to an extent on the shoulders of the players selected. That said, they were using the event as a practice tournament. Should they not at least be given the opportunity to travel to the next stage of qualifying as an extra team and have a chance to fight to retain their spot on the playing field? If they fail again, there can be no excuses, but at least give them that chance rather than whisk the rug out from under their feet.

Photo from ICC files

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why the Silence?

What do all of these have in common:
Kenyan Press, Cricket Kenya, ICC, ACA?

Answer: They are all staying strangely silent on the change of venue for the U19 Cricket World Cup. Why?

Kenya's press should be screaming their condemnation of this.

Cricket Kenya should be giving us their side of the story, telling us why this was allowed to happen and what they intend to do about it.

ICC should come clean on the real reason. As per my letter, if there are genuine reasons, lets see them documented.

ACA - who will they support? Will they kowtow to their parent body or support the smaller nations they have been formed to serve.

When people say nothing, it is often because they have something to hide. I urge all readers of this site to write to any or all of the above to voice your displeasure and request transparency and action. Cricket is meant to be a game of honour - it has really lost that sheen of late.

For those in Kenyan cricket who are looking at this as an opportunity to bring down Cricket Kenya: Think long and hard about whether Kenyan cricket will survive another civil war. You will not profit from taking over a carcass. Together we might just keep our heads above water, divided we will surely drown. They may not be doing the best job possible, but make your moves legally and at the right time. That time is at the elections. It is not now. Now all those who value Kenya and cricket must stand united.

Monday, June 29, 2009

An open letter to the ICC regarding Kenya's loss of hosting rights to the 2010 Under 19 World Cup

Dear Sirs,

I write regarding the recent decision to strip Kenya of hosting rights for the 2010 Under 19 World Cup.

Please can the report/reports given to the ICC regarding this decision be made public. Mention was made in the ICC press release concerning this that "regular reports to the ICC Board" were made. If this is correct, why was the issue not raised publicly in time for Kenya to bring preparations into line with ICC expectations? Please also release these documents for public scrutiny.

What were the specifics of Kenya being deemed unable to host the event? If there are genuine concerns, the ICC should be able to produce a list so that the Cricket Kenya has a chance to publicly address each concern. If the concerns cannot be addressed, this decision might at least be understood of not liked. If they can be addressed then there must be the basis for an investigation as to why this decision was reached.

Was it due to pitch quality? - last we were informed on this (May 11th) was that much progress had been made since the previous inspection in April and there were no undue worries. Given the time between now and the tournament plus the growing conditions in Kenya, there would be ample time for pitches to be brought up to top quality.Several of the pitches to be used already hold ODI status, and given that none of these have had their status revoked, the ICC must still be happy with their quality.
For things to have turned around so drastically in the short space of time since seems very peculiar as does the claim that there is not enough time to rectify the situation.

Is it infrastructure of buildings at the venues or roads etc? Once again, 8 months is a very long time in terms of preparing these and should there have been warning before this decision, it is likely that the Kenya government would have been able to intervene to ensure deadlines are met. Almost all the venues to be used already have existing facilities which could be brought up to scratch well inside the 8 months remaining.

When did New Zealand "offer to host the tournament"? It seems highly coincidental that they just happened to be ready with their offer as Kenya were stripped of hosting rights.

Why has Kenya not been given an ultimatum to reach a particular state of readiness by a certain date rather than suddenly losing the hosting rights without warning? If this did happen, why was it not made public?

What were the affiliations of the persons involved in presenting the report to the ICC?

In summary. the reason given in last week's press release for the stripping of the Under 19 world Cup from Kenya does not stand up. Eight months is ample of time for preparations to be completed and for Kenya to put on a fantastic event. I daresay that given the opportunity, they could certainly at least match the debacle that was the senior World Cup last held in the West Indies.

The ICC has made much of its supposed support for growing the game of cricket outside of the Old Boys Club that is Test cricket. How does it justify that aim in light of this recent decision that has cost one of the strongest Associates upwards of $150 000 - a huge amount of money in terms of an Associate nation's budget, not to mention revenue lost from no longer hosting the event and the incalculable loss that comes from losing an amazing opportunity to promote the game to the Kenyan public.

Kenyan cricket fans have had to put up with much over the last few years, the least they are owed by the ICC is an open and detailed explanation as to why this event that would have done so much good for the growth of cricket in the country has been snatched away from them. We look forward to an honest and transparent explanation.

copied to local and online media