. Having gone from champs to chumps in Division 1 of the World Cricket League, matches against Baroda and Gujarat would have been an ideal opportunity for out of touch players to focus on rediscovering their touch.
With a maximum of two innings to go, Thomas Odoyo is the only batsman to make the magic 100 mark. Nehemiah Odhiambo, Collins Obuya (who was in great touch anyway) and James Kamande are the only other batsmen to have registered 50s. The rest of Kenya’s batting has failed to show much hunger for runs, hence processions have become the norm whenever Kenya is at the crease. Kenya’s record in the 50 over-a-side format this year reads two wins 11 losses. Both wins Holland (one being a warm up game) a result of the increasingly rare occurrences when Kenya’s batsmen did not allow circumstances to dictate their batting approach.
Most worrying is the form of youngsters, particularly, Rakep Patel and Alex Obanda. Neither has managed a half century since January in the 50 over format and neither seems to be showing the kind confidence and poise that got both into the national set up in the first place. Several voices in Kenyan cricket, especially through the print media, are now calling for the return of senior batsmen. Though it may prove a short term relief, in the long run this blogger believes that it merely papering over the problem and not fixing it.
In the bowling, the story is slightly different. Nehemiah Odhiambo looks to be the most in form of the seam bowlers. With better control and fewer 4-balls he looks set to become more and Kenya’s strike bowler of choice for several years to come. His namesake Nelson Odhiambo has also shown signs of promise. However, the real story is the rise and rise of one James Ngoche. Continuing where he left off at the World Cricket league, he was Kenya’s leading wicket taker in the tri series v. Gujarat and Baroda. And together with one Shem Obado he has shown glimpses of the kind of tight and disciplined bowling that are the hallmarks of great spinners. With the World Cup in the sub-continent this blogger hopes their skills translate to more than just being able to bamboozle associate and provincial level batsmen. God knows Kenya needs it.
With only a seven month window left till the next World Cup the is very little room for radical changes to personnel, yet one can only hope that a proposed tour by either or both of Pakistan and South Africa’s A teams in September will see changes necessary to stop the rot in the Kenya national team.