This weekend Kenya’s national cricket team are in Uganda to participate in the Africa leg of the pre-qualifiers of the 2014 T20 World Cup. Up until recently Kenya’s relatively strong historical performances meant that they were already pre-qualified to the final stage (global) qualifiers and we only entered a team to give exposure to up and coming young talent. However at the last global qualifier, the team’s overall ranking meant that not only were they far away from making the world cup, but they lost their automatic qualifier slot to Namibia, who themselves were only one game from making the World Cup itself. This time around they absolutely must finish in the top two to be assured of a space, as one of Africa’s two representatives, in the Global Qualifier in Dubai later this year.
Cricket Kenya have therefore, I believe, sent out the strongest team available for the tournament to be absolutely sure of making it out of this stage, never mind that, of the other teams in the competition, only Uganda have any kind of history of being competitive against, never mind beating Kenya’s men’s team in a cricket match.
The team will have Collins Obuya, Ragheb Aga and Tanmay Mishra, players with T20 experience in domestic competitions of the highest level. Collo and Ragheb have featured in England’s main T20 county competitions, whilst Mishra was a member of the now defunct IPL franchise, the Deccan Chargers last season. Aside from them, there is also Maurice Ouma, Hiren Varaiya, Nehemiah Odhiambo and Alex Obanda who featured in Kenya’s only trip to the T20 World Cup in 2007 and there is Rakep Patel and James Ngoche who have exposure in the 50 over version of the World Cup. They now carry the bulk of experience for the national team. They newer lads, Nelson Odhiambo, Lucas Oluoch, Dominic Wesonga, Emmanuel Bundi, and Irfan Karim have all shone in East Africa Cup and Premier League competitions, and for the most part they should be too skilled for the likes of Nigeria and Botswana. It is imperative however, that they bring their A games to be certain of making it out of what could be a tricky stage of qualification and set themselves up to have another go at the global qualifier.
The build up hasn’t been without controversy, with the squad heading out to Uganda just a week after one or two potential players featured in the non sanctioned Zuku Cricket Wars tournament. I’m not saying that these guys were certain to be in the team but one does wonder if being there did factor as a reason to leave them out by Cricket Kenya now or later on. That aside this blogger wants to wish our boys all the best in the qualifiers.