'Sacked' Tikolo steers Uganda to a 4-0 Kenya whitewash

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Apr 23, 2017
  • Steve Tikolo who was rejected by Cricket Kenya at the instigation of national team players steered Uganda to a 4-0 whitewash of Kenya. (Photo Courtesy)

It's back to the proverbial drawing board for the national cricket team ahead of their ICC World Cricket League Championships (ICC WCLC) match against Netherlands in Nairobi later this year.

The national cricket team arrived back from their tour of Uganda on Friday, but seemingly with more questions than answers regarding the future of the team and Kenyan cricket in general.

Thomas Odoyo boys suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat in the-five match series against Uganda. The the loss was inflicted by their former coach Steve Tikolo whom the most of the players in the team engineered his dismissal from ‘Kenyan cricket’.

The tour that was supposed to help the technical bench plan ahead of their upcoming crucial ICC WCLC match with top-ranked Netherlands after mishaps in Nepal seems to have taken them several steps back.

“We will have to go back to the drawing board and see what went wrong. The team didn't perform well and we were all the time playing catch up with our hosts,” tour captain Shem Obado said.

The tour didn’t do any good for the team but instead poked holes on the team’s ability to get Kenya back to its old glory days as it failed to shine in virtually all aspects of the game.

Batsmen lacked the composure 

The batsmen lacked the composure and a sense of responsibility throughout the series and only two players were able to score half centuries as the team was easily bowled out by ‘poor’ Uganda bowling unit.

In Uganda, fielding, cost them dearly during the series while the bowlers simply failed to make an impact. They never bowled out Uganda in all the four completed innings.

Their overall discipline was also poor. SNA reliably established that one of the senior players had an argument with one of the coaches when he was questioned about his batting.

The technical bench have also expressed their concern over the player’s commitment in the team. Sources close to the team said the players approach in the series was wanting as the players did not ‘express themselves.

“From the way the team has played this series it's either Kenya cricket has gone down, Uganda has caught up with Kenya or the players are here (Uganda) for holiday.

"There is nothing the team displayed to prove that they were up to the task. Their performance was not of a team that knew what they were doing,” the source who sought anonymity said.

Moments after Kenya lost their third match by six wickets, assistant coach Peter Ongondo expressed his dissatisfaction with how the players were responding to their technical advices.

“We have told the players that they are the ones playing the game and not us. We can give them advice they want but we will not cross the boundary line, so they have to find where they are letting themselves down,” said Ongondo.

“It’s very clear that all the game plans that we have given them they have not executed. They have to come up with their own game plan,” he added.

Sports News Arena has been following the performance of the team and has a good idea on the identity of the players who could be the cause of Kenya's poor performance in Uganda.

Sources confirmed that the technical bench also has an issue with some senior players in the team who they feel are derailing the performance of the team.

Players reluctant to follow instructions

It’s reported that some of these are senior players who put in more effort for their club sides than the national team and are reluctant to follow instructions from the coaches and fellow players.

The players are blamed for among other things failing to play as a team and only play for themselves.

“We have players that don’t play for the team. They play for themselves and never put the interest of the team forward,” the source confirmed to SNA.

For as many matches, Kenya batting has been poor failing to either finish off the matches after good start or crumbling the entire inning.

As it was the case in the matches against PNG, Hong Kong, Nepal and other matches, Kenya batting once again failed despite CK having appointed Maurice Odumbe to work with the batting.

Former national team captain Collins Obuya who was the only batsman to score over 200 runs in the series felt that the batting was let down once again.

“If we are to improve we need to improve with our batting. Stay on the crease and face the 50 overs and play with the right basics rather than going for the big shots," Obuya stated.

Team selection has also continued to raise eyebrows in the team with others feeling that the coaches have been pushing for the selection of their cronies.

Youngster Rushabh Patel has continued to win the selectors confidence despite failing to make a mark in the team for a year now.

The last time the Nairobi Gymkhana batsman made a mark was when he scored 90 plus against PNG last year May. Ever since, he has continued to win the selectors and coaches’ confidence into the team with little to talk about. His age mate Gurdeep Singh too has not had a good time too in the team.

“Why are we having players who have continued to underperform still in the team? How do the selectors conduct their selection because whenever the squad is selected it proves that we don't consider the players' performance. It seems like we are the only country where players are selected even after they continue underperforming,” former national team bowler Edward Tito said.

Obado: Batsmen failed

Obado added his voice on Kenya’s poor batting show saying the batsmen failed in their work.

“The batsmen didn't put enough runs for us on the board. With this regard we were forced to play catch up we never got the momentum. The batsman need to go to the drawing board and see what we could do to improve,” Obado said.

Obuya added that the entire team should stick to the basics of the game too, a statement that raises question about the quality of players in the squad.

“We should be able to apply ourselves and stick to the basics. With the basics it’s very easy. I urge my colleagues to stay on the basics and stick on the wickets as much as possible,” the middle order batsman said.

Apart from batting, bowling was wanting. In all the four completed innings, Kenya failed to bowl out the hosts even with changes in the bowling line up in almost every match.

Nehemiah Odhiambo, one of the most experienced players in the squad played only two matches of the series where his presence was not much felt.

Lucas Oluoch and Eugene Ochieng other seam bowlers in the squad also had a poor tour with none of them picking a wicket in the series.

Kenya’s performance was no different from the one by the Kenya A last year where Kenya side lost all its six matches.

But unlike the Kenya A side which included a bunch of players that had not trained, the Odoyo’s side which has contracted players has been training four days a week under three coaches.

With this performance, the training that the teams goes through comes to the spotlight.

While the contracting of the players in Kenya seems not to save Kenya from going down the ICC ranking, in Uganda it seems to be working.

Contracting players

Since Tikolo asked Uganda cricket authorities to contract the players a lot has happened positively for Ugandan cricket. Tikolo said after the players were contracted they decided to work hard and that’s the reason for their success.

“I want to thank the players for this progress. After the Nairobi series in September, they accepted my call to work hard. We have had so many sessions (hitting balls/throw downs and spot bowling) starting at 7.a.m in the morning, that is sacrifice and commitment and I am happy its paying off,” said Tikolo.

The former Kenya captain and coach who fell out with the players after instilling new changes that he thought would make Kenya do better said Uganda has been able to improve because of hard work.

“In the last eight months we have worked hard on our batting with different drills. We have also worked on playing spin with simulations structured to playing spin and slowly spin is no longer being a problem.

"Kenyans thought they would do us in with spin but they are now surprised how the guys are handling spin with a lot of calmness."

Tikolo said that Uganda cricket board has taken the national team seriously and could go out of their way to see the team do well.

“The board is serious with the national cricket. They appointed one board member to be in charge of the national team matters-,a move I commend so much because there is a direct link between the national team and the board. In case of any issues that need to be sorted out, the board gets first hand information rather than the long processes that at time derail things,” Tikolo said.