Thursday, January 14, 2010

Youngsters get the nod for IC and 20-20s

Cricket Kenya has today released the team for the upcoming Intercontinental cup clash with top-of-the-table Scotland and the 20-20 series with Scotland and Uganda that follows. While the batting line up is much to be expected, the selectors have opted to keep faith with three of the youngsters who played in the recent series vs Uganda. This means that at least one of Shem Obado, Nelson Odhiambo or James Otieno, maybe all, will get a full cap before the series is out. Strangely given the decision to go with the youth, there is no place for Lucas Oluoch who was perhaps the standout of the players that was blooded against Uganda.

There is also no place for the vastly experienced Peter Ongondo and with both Thomas Odoyo and Rageb Aga unavailable due to injury, this leaves Kenya with a very inexperienced front line attack. For the Intercontinental Cup only, Alfred Luseno is retained and will open the bowling with his extra pace with Elijah Otieno and Nehemiah Odhiambo the other likely seamers.

The top order batting line up retains the services of Seren Waters for the Intercontinental Cup, but he returns to university afterwards to make way for Tony Suji in the side – another strange selection given that the selectors are obviously choosing with one eye on the future. With Waters likely to open and Ouma (Cpt) and Steve Tikolo certainties, the other batting slots will be between David Obuya, Rakep Patel, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, and Shem Obado. The spin department must surely be lead by Hiren Varaiya while Jimmy Kamande will retain his place as Vice Captain.

The 20-20 series will likely be where the youngsters get their chances as coach Eldine Baptiste will need to do some tinkering before the team heads off for the World Cup qualifiers. All three should get a run at some stage, but may lose out if Suji is included.

This squad gives several younger players a real chance to step up and prove themselves, but the lack of experience could be costly, especially in the longer format where a player such as Ongondo would have been valuable both with the ball in hand but also as a steadying influence on the less experienced players. Elijah Otieno and Luseno will really need to bend their backs to get the early breakthrough to avoid the pressure building up. Kenyan fans will be hoping it is a gamble that pays off – it is about time Kenya started to put together a string of wins.

Full Squad:
1. Morris Ouma (Captain)
2. James Kamande (Vice Captain)
3. David Obuya
4. Rakep Patel
5. Collins Obuya
6. Stephen Tikolo
7. Hiren Varaiya
8. Nehemiah Odhiambo
9. Elijah Otieno
10. Alex Obanda
11. Seren Waters
12. Shem Obado
13. Nelson Odhiambo
14. Alfred Luseno
15. James Otieno Ngoche

Alfred Luseno and Seren Waters leave the squad for the 20-20s, Tony Suji comes in.