At the end of the day I do not think Kenya could have asked for a more depressing tour results-wise than what just elapsed against Afghanistan. It is one thing that Kenya lost all but the final game to a resurgent Afghanistan side, but it’s quite another when none of the losses was even close. Even when facing essentially an under 25 team in the 4 day intercontinental Cup, Kenya got bowled out for scores of 162, and 140 respectively, to succumb to an 8 wicket loss with a full day and a half of play to spare.
The immediate outcome of losing those World Cup Qualifiers is that Kenya now have to go to New Zealand early next to fight for the last two World Cups slots, and probably the right to even hold One Day Internationals in future. It means Kenya continue to wallow at the bottom of the ODI and T20 world rankings, and the trophy drought in the Intercontinental Cup will continue for at least another two tears. Afghanistan’s (admittedly very good) fast bowlers badly exposed Kenya’s batsmen. Nobody in the Kenya team made it to 40 in all of the games played, and as a team, we were out for less than 100 in all limited overs innings batted. Considering that just before the 2011 World Cup, Kenya had played the same opponents and fared considerably better. (Kenya won the ODI series 2-1, and only some bad fielding in the Afghan 1st innings was the difference between the two teams in the Intercontinental Cup) the actual skill gap between the two teams cannot be that big. Therefore one cannot say Kenya could not have at least competed with their opponents. However the results were the results, and at the end of the day the Kenya national team just underwent one of its worst tours results wise that I can remember.
Kenya is not the first; neither will it be the last, cricket national team to suffer a nightmare tour of this nature. It happens to everybody eventually. What matters here is how the players, coaches and administrators react to such a tour. That is where the difference between the good teams, who pick themselves up, directly and honestly address the matters that need addressing and actually become stronger because of the lessons learned from that tour, and the weaker ones for whom such a tour only unleashes yet another round of debilitating blame games, finger pointing accusations and conspiracies.
The silver lining in all of this was Kenya capped two promising young players in Dhiren Ghondaria and 15yr old Gurdeep Singh. My hope is that they saw the level their opponents were at, not as a discouragement, but a challenge that they can rise up and meet wityh sufficient application and hard work.
On a final note this blogger wants to congratulate Afghanistan, and the Afghan Cricket Board on their team’s qualification for their first ever 50 over World Cup.
EDIT: Since the posting of this blog Kenya did win the fianl t20 match in Sharjah, Collins Obuya leading the boys to an encouraging 34 run win.