The grind of the International Cricket Council’s elaborate and extensive World Cricket League tournament system was back in action over the past week. Kenya was in Namibia, for Division II of the ODI side of the World Cricket League.
Up for grabs were two slots in Division I of the World Cricket League, two slots in the next round of the Intercontinental Cup (which will be a qualifier for a shot at test cricket) and generally getting a little bit closer to qualification in the 2019 ODI World Cup. For the worst two, relegation down to Division III, and generally making the path to World Cup qualification that much more complicated.
There were 6 teams who played each other over that week. Namibia, who were hosting the tournament, and Netherlands promoted, Uganda and Canada were relegated, while Nepal and Kenya will wait for the next round of World Cricket League Division II matches.
On the one hand Kenya finished the tournament as the 3rd best team overall by beating Nepal in the 3rd v. 4th place playoff. On the other hand, Kenya only narrowly escaped relegation by a net run rate differential of approximately 0.2, again as a result of beating Nepal on the last day of round robin matches.
It’s hard to say whether one should be happy that Kenya were resilient enough to dodge the bullet of relegation and even grab 3rd place overall, or sad that they were never really good enough to bounce straight back into Division I of the WCL, having only just been relegated into Division II.
Kenya looked very good dispatching Uganda and Nepal twice. Their bowling unit (led by Nelson Odhiambo’s 15 wickets at 17 apiece) was able to pretty much out smart and outplay their opposing batsmen, while the Kenya batsmen were savvy enough to collectively chase down totals, or score enough runs to win.
On the flip side, in their losses against Canada, Namibia and the Netherlands, the batting either proved too brittle to withstand the pressure from the opponents bowling, or the bowling unit was unable to react appropriately to the aggression of the opposing batsmen.
Case in point being the Netherlands game, where only some late hitting from Nehemiah Odhiambo got Kenya to a total of 212/9, which the Dutch promptly chased down in 31 overs.
Kenya now moves their attention to the process of qualifying for the T20 World Cup. This will involve first making it out of the Africa Qualifier tournament and qualifying for a global qualifier tournament, whose qualifiers will go to a preliminary round before they qualify for the World Cup proper.