By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Mar 16, 2017
Former national team players have attributed Kenya’s current state of cricket at the international level to an inability to accept that the game has changed, inconsistency and lack of proper selection criteria.
Three former players spoke two days after Kenya lost the second ICC World Cricket League Championship match to Nepal.
The result dealt a big blow to Kenya’s chances of qualifying for the next year’s ICC World Cup Qualifiers.
Former national team wicket keepers, Tariq Iqbal, Kennedy Obuya and bowler Alfred ‘Boy’ Njuguna said that, for Kenya to improve and get back on track, three issues should be addressed.
“Kenya cricket is living in the past. We are still playing cricket and running the game with the past performance in our minds. We have failed to accept that the teams that we were beating or we were not even playing in the 90’s have improved and are better than us,” Njuguna asserted.
After the match against Nepal, Kenya's position on the table remains the same. Nepal are sixth with eight points from four wins and Kenya remains on fifth with five wins in 10 matches.
Inability to adapt to changes
Njuguna who was part of the team that ensured Kenya qualified for their first world cup in 1996, said an inability to adapt to the changes in international cricket has played a key role in Kenya’s performance at the international level.
He added that the players have failed to accept that the game is much different from what they are playing at home.
“Looking at the players one wonders if they really know what they are doing. The way they concede wickets leaves a lot to be desired. It happened against Hong Kong when we were in full control and in Nepal. I am tempted to believe that because the players find the competition in our local league easy, they expect the same out there (international),” Njuguna stated.
Obuya who played in three world cups before retiring ahead of the 2007 World Cup in West Indies concurred with Njuguna saying lack of a strong league and proper selection procedure has played a key role in getting Kenya to where it is.
“On what criteria have the players been selected? Is it the league, player’s attendance to practice or what? If it’s the league, is the league that good enough to produce the best players to represent the country? And if it’s that good enough, are the players who are selected the in the league good enough?” Obuya posed.
He wondered why players who are not doing well in the league could still get a place in the team and if the NPCA league was being used to select players.
“When you win the first match, it always gives you a platform on how you will approach the next match. But in our case we have been winning first matches but go on to lose the second. This clearly shows that we are not consistent and there is something wrong with the whole team. You can’t keep on having a good start and end up badly,” Obuya said.
Ever since the campaign started in 2015, the squad has failed to win back to back matches in four of the five series. Apart from a double win against Namibia, the squad has lost at least one match in their double matche fixtures.
At the start of the campaign, in May 2015, Kenya bounced back from five wickets loss at the hands of UAE to win the second match by 65 runs.
Two weeks in Australia
In May last year Kenya lost all their matches to hosts Papua New Guinea despite spending two weeks in Australia.
Before the end of last year, the script of failing to win a series came haunting them at home when they lost one of the two matches against Hong Kong. The same was repeated when they went down to Nepal.
Obuya challenged Cricket Kenya to form a strong league that will give the players a strong platform to gauge themselves before going playing international matches.
“A strong league that will consist of about 40 players could be the easiest way to solve this mess with player’s selection. The league will give the players something to work for. We all don’t know how the players are selected. If the NPCA league was used as the basis of selection, then someone like Maurice Ouma would be in the team,” Obuya added.
Iqbal added his voice on inconsistency saying it was the main reason behind Kenya’s performance in the event.
"We have been losing our grip in the matches just when it seems we are under control," former national team wicketkeeper Tariq Iqbal said.
He also added that expectations were high from the Kenyans to perform better against a side that is below them after touring India for a series of warm up matches.
"It was important for us to remain consistent. We have failed to do that. Even after the preparations that the team had, we have failed to be consistent. We have also failed to get victory when it matters."