Over the past few weeks, Kenya and Pakistan engaged one another in a series of cricket matches. Kenya’s u19 boys’ team hosted their counterparts for a 5 match ODI series in Nairobi, whereas the men’s senior team traveled to Pakistan to play their ‘A’ team in a series. Both series resulted in hopelessly one sided white washes for the Pakistan teams
On the side of the u19 games, the one sidedness of the results was to be expected, given the huge difference in class between the two countries’ youth development systems. For those not in the know, Pakistan’s u19 team’s world cup record reads as follows: World Champions twice (2004, 2006) losing finalists thrice (2014, 2010, 1988) and semifinalists twice (2008, 2000). They have NEVER missed a World Cup and their worst ever placing is 8th overall.
Kenya’s u19 team on the other hand have not qualified for the sport’s world cup since 2002, and their best placing was when a group with led by the young Collins Obuya, Morris Ouma and Kalpesh Patel managed to finish 5th in the plate competition in 2000.
Basically, the games were not likely to be close contests, and they were not. As the boys set out to break Kenya’s 12 year duck at World Cup Appearances my hope is that they looked what the Pakistani boys were doing right and borrowed some of their methods.
This blogger also hopes that the administrators also used the opportunity to pick the brains of the Pakistani management on how to build a world class cricket development system.
On the side of the senior mens’ team, the nature of the defeats was a lot more disappointing. Some numbers to put the scope of the performance in perspective. Kenya’s leading run scorer was Nelson Odhiambo, with a total of 84 runs across his 5 innings, not in one innings but for the whole tour. By the way he was also the team’s leading wicket taker with 5 wickets across the 5 games.
Kenya missed most of their top order batsmen (Rakep Patel, Irfan Karim, Collins Obuya, among others were not available). The only ‘seasoned’ batsmen who traveled were Alex Obanda, and Morris Ouma. Unfortunately neither was able to fire, and the other batsmen, on their first exposure to cricket at this level couldn’t pick up the slack.
The bowlers were significantly better at competing with the Pakistan ‘A’ team batting, but when push came to shove it just seemed that the hosts always had an extra gear, they could switch into and just take the game away from the Kenyans.
This blogger speculates that this difference is partly down to the competitive edge that the Pakistanis have developed in their players from the competitiveness of the cricket in Pakistan as a whole.
In the immediate future, Kenya might not have to play such difficult opposition in the upcoming World Cricket League matches, plus they will have a full complement of players.
However, Cricket Kenya must look at the results as a reminder that the game in Kenya just isn’t mobilizing the kind of player resource needed to take us back to the ‘glory days,’ of regular upsets, world cup qualifications.