There was a time when the Kenya was high up in the cricket world. But then, the saying: whatever goes up surely does come down became a reality. This is sports and Kenya fell down quickly and nearly out of the cricket radar. What has remained is just memories of the glorious past.
Many expect the Cricket World Cup 2011 to be the last straw for Kenya former captain Steve Tikolo and then things will change completely and nothing will be heard of Kenyan cricket if the recent happening is used as a yardstick.
As the ICC Cricket World Cup takes shape, nobody expects Kenya to do well as was the case in 2003 when they reached the semi finals and in 1996 when they beat West Indies in their maiden appearance.
But the brakes were applied immediately when politics took control and four years later in West Indies, Kenya were not the team which could have emulated their 2003 heroics. They failed to go past the first round.
Until the debacle, Kenya had been considered the best team outside the Test arena and there were calls to have the country elevated to Test status.
In 2007 Kenya won the ICC World Cricket League but two years later they were struggling to make it past the World Cup qualifiers against the same team.
And with the squad that took part in the World Cricket League in Netherlands apart from Seren Waters, Steve Tikolo and Peter Ongondo being the same Kenya is faced with an uphill task in the World Cup.
Looking at the squad that will be taking on New Zealand in the opening match in Chennai, something that comes to mind is that this squad is full of players who have not done much for the country since making their debut. It’s not their fault. They can afford to do that because they are coming from a country where their is no competition for the available places.
Not much is expected from the team against the likes of seasoned Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and defending champions Australia.
But with Tikolo in the team, Kenya could afford to get into the pitch with some relief expecting the veteran batsman to carry them all along with both the bat and his spin despite his age.
The other batsman who can make life difficult for the bowlers is Alex Obanda. David Obuya, a destructive batsman also carries a lot of experience from two world cups.
But somewhere down the line, the ability to win matches gets affected by continuous efforts to hit the ball out of the park. Fifty overs format being played in the tournament are long enough to keep trying again and again.
This is where three names bring the most hope – Seren Waters, Rakep Patel and Collins Obuya.
These three young men are full of energy and enthusiasm. They will give hope of building an inning incase things don’t work out with the other batsmen. Collins Obuya stands out experienced batsman with expectations mellowed down. If at all the three can stand out with their performances, perhaps some good will come out of it for Kenya team.
The story is pretty much repeated when it comes to the bowling. Ongondo and Odoyo have their own reputations preceding them; the former being credited to be the man who at one time was among the best 20 bowlers in the world, while Ongondo is one of the best fast bowling talents to come out and play for his country.
Yet they fail to excite for the lack of consistency, in their performances be it for injury reasons. Nehemiah Odhiambo is the only one who has some bit of standing in international circles, but it will take more than just three bowlers to win nine matches.
Perhaps then, no other captain’s role is as important as that of Jimmy Kamande. In the short span of time, he has been leading the side, besides his skill with the bat and ball, he has given enough hints of forging together a unit that can build a collective identity and fight for a common cause. So the question being asked, is if he is up to the task? The ODI World Cup is the biggest of challenges, yes, but it is also the biggest stage to perform.
The 11th Man
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