Kenya T20: A Preview to the World Cup Qualifiers

In little over 18 hours from the publication of this post, Kenya will begin the quest for qualifiction to the 2012 T20 Cricket World Cup to be hosted by Sri Lanka, in September by facing Scotland in a round robin match. Kenya is one of 12 associate (2nd tier) teams fighting over 2 slots in a qualifying tournament in U.A.E starting tomorrow. The other teams in Kenya’s group are: Namibia, Uganda, Italy and Oman. The winner of this group wil face the winner of group A (Ireland, Afghanistan, U.A.E, Denmark, Papua New Guinea and Bermuda) in final number one, for one of the two World cup places. The teams that finish 2nd and 3rd in their respective groups will themselves go head to head to determine which one will play the loser of final number one, for the other world cup slot. I have no idea why it has to be this convoluted, but that’s how the ICC seem to like doing things. Kenya haven’t been to the world cup for this format since the inaugural event in 2007, and the less we talk about what happened then, the better. Kenya’s team has been through a massive evolution, nay revolution since then and even now can still be said to be transition. This is transition from a generation, who developed their game when Kenya was stuck in the No Mans land of being sole ODI nation, to a generation of players who have virtually none of the exposure to the big guns of world cricket their predecessors had but are still expected to somehow assert dominance over the rest their associate peers. What are Kenya’s chances of earning one of these two World Cup slots? Its imperative that this team believes in its own ability to deliver the goods. All the players selected have shown in sparks here and again that individually they can wreak havoc (both as batsmen and bowlers) on players and teams even when on paper it shouldn’t be possible. Many fans will remember Collins Obuya’s sparkling 98 against Australia at the 2011 World Cup. Its not for nothing Tanmay Mishra’s become only the second international from outside the test (1st tier) nations to get an IPL Contract. Then there is the Ngoche brothers. They are the spine of Kenya’s bowling just now and have outclassed all the opposition batsmen at least once. Surely the penny’s got to drop soon and these sparks will develop into a big roaring flame. Maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Lets look at Kenya’s opponents. In group B. Italy and Oman haven’t done anything remotely notable in Cricket so, except for massive complacency on Kenya’s part these games should be won fairly easily. The other three teams in the group: Namibia, Uganda and Scotland, on the other hand represent a much tougher prospect and should be approached with utmost seriousness if Kenya are to get victory. Namibia is a team that have blown plenty of match exposure from being a part of South Africa’s domestic competitions and thus have lots of team chemistry. A Kenyan XI squad visited Namibia late last year and played 8 t20 matches losing 6 of them and winning 2. Though one could qualify the outcome by saying that not all of Kenya’s best players travelled and there was a huge amount of chopping and changing of line ups across the matches, its still a good indicator of how strong Namibia can be in this format of cricket. Scotland also have several seasons of playing as a team, this time in England, however Kenya’s head to head record against them in t20s is markedly better than that against Namibia. Nonetheless, they still represent one of the strongest squads in the tournament and Kenya would do well not to spare any slack when dealing with them. Uganda have developed a liking for putting egg on the faces of Kenya of late, they beat us as recently as Sunday. Though not normally a big contender for World cup places and the like, they do like to save their best for Kenya. Should Kenya come through this group, my expectation is the most likely competitors they will face, in whichever final they may have to play, will be Ireland and The Netherlands. Not only do both these teams have better head to head records in the T20 format against Kenya but they both have giant killing form characteristic of teams full of confidence in what they are doing. Which is not to say that they can’t be beaten, only that for it to be done there can be no room for complacency. Having said all that, Kenya’s is, a young squad, arguably not at the height of its powers. Coming through all this and securing a place at the high take of World Cricket in Sri Lanka come September would send a massive statement that Kenyan cricket is truly back.

Author: Kimemia Maina

blogger, writer, dreamer...

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