Kenya tour to Ireland (July 3rd-July 10th)

Following a less than convincing qualification campaign for the 2011 World Cup, Kenya’s attentions now switch to the longer format of the game where they open their efforts to capture (for the first time) the Intercontinental cup from Ireland (the current 3 time defending champions) , by facing them on their own on the 3rd of July. The tour which will also involve two One day Internationals is likely to a baptism of fire for a new coaching set up with word in the press and certain blogs that an ad had been placed for a new head coach and that the shortlist is now down to two candidates. That and the small matter of selecting a new captain following steve Tikolo’s decision to step down in April of this year.

This season’s tournament see’s one major change with Zimbabwe fielding an ‘A’ team as part of their efforts to rehabilitate and get back to playing test cricket. Aside from that there is the creation of a second division Intercontinental shield. Other changes see Bermuda and Namibia bizzarrely relegated on the back of their poor World Cup Qualifiers, to be replaced by Afghanistan and the A team from Zimbabwe. So far the ICC has only released a handful of matches (amounting to about 1 round) with no indication as when the rest of the schedule (if it exists at all) will be made known to the participants.

Back to the Kenya situation. If the coaching vacancy is were being filled tomorrow, it would leave the new guy some three weeks to gel with the squad and prepare them for what would surely be the most difficult assignment that could reasonably come out of the hat (aside from probably a likely fixture away against Zimbabwe A). However it is likely that the job will stay with Andy Kirsten till just after the Ireland assignment

Last season’s meeting between the two sides saw a resurgent, full strength, Ireland thrash Kenya by an innings on a Gymkhana wicket that saw Kenya’s bowlers only manage 4 wickets in 160 overs, enabling the Irish to overhaul Kenya in the points table and get back into the final they eventually won against Namibia.

This year it is likely that as many as 6 of the Irish team will be unavailable for at least the Intercontinental cup due to County cricket commitments. However, the Irish are likely to be on a high after once again upsetting the apple cart by making the latter stages of the ongoing World T20 World Cup in England and and will be full of cricket when their opponents arrive in Dublin to face them, having not played a single international match since April.

Full tour fixtures (with facebook event links)

July 3rd-6th
Intercontinental Cup (4 day game)
Ireland vs Kenya

July 8th*
One Day International
Ireland v Kenya
Clontarf Cricket Club Ground, Dublin

July 10th*
One day international
Ireland v Kenya
Clontarf Cricket Club Ground, Dublin

Tickets and booking information is likely to be made available here, or here*

EDIT: After pestering several sources for infor this blog can now confirm that tickets will certainly be available only at the gate for at least the two ODIs, and possibly the intercontinental Cup match.

2008 Highlights

2008 looks to e a ig year for Kenyan sportsmen and women all over the world and although our beloved Harambee Stars will be missing out on the premier event on the African Continent, The Africa Cup of Nations, there action on the domestic season will hopefully give the die hard fans who still attend these matches reason enough that there is enough talent on the local scene to change that. The rugby and cricket teams on the other hand will have quite a bit on their own plates with both looking for success which for, while for rugby will be unprecedented, will have been long overdue for the cricket team.

First up will be Th Intercontinental cup in cricket which see the best Non-test teams face each other in a league from whence the best two teams face of in a final in a neutral venue to decide which one of them is the best at First Class cricket. The current tournament which started way back in June currently has Kenya on top of the table before there two matches in January against UAE and Namibia, Kenya will need to cash in on these winnable matches before they head of to face more adept opposition in the form Of the Dutch and the Scots. Outside of that if things work out well Kenya will also face Test nations South Africa in two One day matches, and the possibility of hosting Zimbabwe for a full blown tour including a number of First Class matches and One Day internationals. Also in th pipeline is a possible forur nation tournament involving immediate rivals in the Cricket world rankings Ireland, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Rugby returns in a big way in February when the Rugby sevens tournament returns in early February and with Kenya having made such a strong statement in the first two legs in Dubai and George making the main up quarter finals on both occasions and winning the plate in George knocking over such traditional rugby powerhouses such as England on the way, the rugby team will be looking to build on this platform and finishing well in the top ten, maybe even the top five, who knows ? Sky is the limit.

However the biggest event on the 2008 Kenyan sports calendar is undoubtedly the Olympics in Beijing where Kenya’s athletics will be wanting to extend their revival at the recent World Athletics World Championships in Osaka with another huge medal haul. Also looking to get in amongst the medal winners will be the boxers and maybe if things go really positively there might be one or two Kenyan swimmers lining up at the finals of one or two strokes.

On the Domestic front there will be the KFF Premier league which is looking to run uninterrupted for the second successive season in a few years and will be available to view all over the continent on Supersprt following a multimillion shilling 4 year television deal. Also on the agenda will be the usual rugby sevens circuit peaking in mid year with the Safari Sevens and if nothing goes worong for the first time Kenya will be witnessing the best cricketing talent on offer playing each other in a proposed national league.

2008 Provisional schedule is out

The ICC have launched a provisional ODI schedule for its HPP countries which sees Kenya playing Scotland twice away Ireland in 8 ODI matches of which 5 will be at home and 3 away as well as the Netherlands in a single match in August. Now Kenya do not have any matches against test teams scheduled yet which is rather disappointing as it won’t help the boys gain any experience playing the kind of top quality opposition they will need to build the necessary confidence at the highest level this list is provisional and it is hoped that something will be organised. However it is to be noted that on top of having to prove their credentials in the T20 games in Ireland when Kenya’s biggest new rival in global cricket host the qualifiers for the T20 World Cup scheduled for England in 2009, on top of the other 8 ODI’s against the same opponents mentioned above, two convincing series wins against the only other Non-Test team on the ODI championship table should do Kenya’s relatively poor ranking some justice, and maybe, just maybe open up a slim opportunity for Kenya to earn a place at the next Champions Trophy and another shot at the Test teams as early as 2008.

Kenya vs. Bermuda ODI series review

As I haven’t been able to keep interested readers up to date with the regular blow by blow account of the rather fascinating three match ODI series between Kenya and Bermuda that came to a conclusion earlier on Sunday this post will look at general the general performance of the teams over the entire OD series. Having seen of Canada in two identical 4 wicket wins the Kenyans were brimming with confidence going into the series against opponents who not were not only looking out of their depth against Associates teams with ODI status but had managed to lose even to Uganda in their one of their warm-up games.

First up the batting. While this as been a relatively low scoring series with the highest total being a rather meagre 187/7 racked up by the Kenyans in pursuit of Bermuda’s 183 all out in the second ODI. Although Kenya wound up sealing a 3-0 series white wash there were quite a few occasions when they took their collective eye off the ball and but for the ease at which the Bermudan top order kept collapsing to leave the Kenyans for the most part chasing small totals then the series might have been a lot closer. Despite the absence of Tanmay Mishra who is away in University the first game saw a clinical half century from Obanda get Kenya home with few worries and many overs to spare but his absence apparently to injury from the batting line-up in the subsequent two matches and the resultant near-collapses that followed since may have exposed a certain lack of cover in the middle order. The Bermudans on the other hand never really got going with the bat often losing their first 5 wickets with little added to the scorecard and only being saved from complete obliteration by their captain Irving Romaine and young wicketkeeper Jekon Edness in the last game and going into their Intercontinental cup clash later this week both teams will no doubtedly have a few things to iron out in the batting department.

With the series being low scoring as it was it goes without saying that the bowlers particularly those of the art of spin generally had a good outings all around. Bermuda’s rock Dwayne ‘Big Daddy’ Leverock was the pick of the Bermudan bowling if not the entire series as his ability to take advantage of the spin on offer from the Gymkhana pitch more than tested Kenya’s batsmen and on two occasions almost wrestlked victory from the jaws of defeat, another special mention goes out Rodney Trott a young off spinner who marked his second ODI by bagging the wicket Of Steven Tikolo and then going on to take 4 wicket in the third match of the series and almost win Bermuda that game. As far Kenya’s spinners go there was a welcome return to form for Hiren Varaiya who earned figures of 3/10 (and the position as Kenya’s leading wicket taker for the series with 6) as well as good performances for Kamande and Tikolo. As far as the seam bowling goes where Bermuda’s bowlers tended to be rather wayward and inconsistent Kenya’s seam bowlers generally to the man bowled with accuracy and discipline with Peter Ongondo being the pick of the bowlers.

With the ODI series completed both teams will now reset their focus on the core business at hand, their Intercontinental Cup clash on Thursday with Bermuda desperate to halt a run of two huge innings defeats while Kenya who will probably be sweating on the fitness of Alex Obanda,on the other hand can go top of the table with a maximum points win

Kenyavs. Canada (First ODI)

Having won the Intercontinental cup clash at a canter, thanks to big performances from Odoyo, Obanda, and especially Kamande who overcame the pain inflicted from a mugging only two days before to take 4 First innings wickets, Kenya came into this game on a high and looking to extend their dominance over Canada in the shorter version of the game. Despite reports that Peter Ongondo, one of Kenya’s most reliable pacemen of recent times would miss out on the OD matches due to injury it was widely expected Kenya would still be the favourites and his absence would very likely grant Alfred Luseno a chance to impress the selectors following his 1 year exile.

The selectors however chose to go with the youth of Elijah Otieno and th experience of Lameck Onyango over Luseno’s extra pace and as soon as the game got going The young Otieno opening the bowling alongside Thomas Odoyo got his first ODI wicket removing Mohammed Iqbal of his first delivery. However he, as well as fellow seamer Nehemiah Odhiambo, leaked runs at high enormous rates and though the Canadian batsmen were equally generous with their wickets it was largely the introduction of the offspin of Tikolo and Kamande late into the powerplay overs with Canada at 101/3 that really put some breaks on proceedings. In fact so effective was the spin of Kamande that at the end of his spell of 10-0-32-1 almost 20 overs later Canada had only managed to put on 52 runs and had in the process lost a further 3 wickets. And although the return of the fast bowlers meant that the Canadians were able to build some momentum goin into the slog overs the inability of all but Arvind Kandappah to stay at the crease for any extended period of time meant Canada’s innings ended two overs short of their allocated 50 on 230 all out

While Kenya had been set a none too challenging score 230 was still ‘defendable’ and any mistakes from the Kenyan’s could have been costly. At the start of th reply Kenya’s openers opted to hit out at everything the Canadian bowlers threw at them and by the 5tth over all of Kenya’s 31 runs had come off either boundaries or wides and this hit out at all costs almost fell apart when first Obuya, then Nehamiah Odhiambo, then Ouma and Finally Steve Tikolo were sent packing in three overs of madness that sent Kenya from 31/0 to 41/4. adn when Collins Obuya fell lbw a few overs later it seemed the Canadians were going to win the game a a canter, However Thomas Odoyo had other ideas and with the calm headed Alex Obanda for company the rebuiling process began with the two adding an important 86 for the sixth wicket before Obanda lost his wicket trying to accelerate the scoring rate having scored 30 off 91 deliveries.
At this point Odoyo who had just crossed the 50 mark himself upped the ante and with Jimmy Kamande he was not only able to blast his way to a second consecutive unbeaten century against the Canadians, he was able to rally Kenya to a victory which at one point seemd dead and buried with one and a half overs to spare.

So with victory only just assured Kenya await Sunday’s rematch again at the Gymkhana looking to seal the series win while Canada will be heartened by their ablilty to rattle Kenya early on and will most probably consider themselves more than capable of tying he series.

Match Sorecard(Cricinfo)

Opportunity to bury the ghosts.

With the two opportunities to shine against test opposition been and gone with some nightmarish results esp in the T20 World Cup in S.A. The focus for the Kenya cricket team must surely go back, for the time being, to at least proving that they are still the premier Associate nation. And one way they can do this is by putting together victories in their upcoming home Intercontinental cup matches against Canada (Oct 12-15th) and Bermuda in early November. The change of format from previous years means that everybody will play everybody in the round robin stage Ireland and The Netherlands have already set the pace with both sitting pretty at the top of the table it will be crucial for Kenya to get some momentum by closing out comprehensive victories in these two matches.

First up will be the visit of Canada, who will play Kenya in an Intercontinental cup clash before participating in a 3 match ODI series. Whearas Kenya have largely been dominant over the Canadians in the One day format of the game, the small matter of Canada’s 25 run win in Toronto last year, a win that in some ways pushed Canada into the final of that years Intercontinental cup while effectively ending Kenya’s own campaign, will surely play on the minds of our boys as they begin their campaign to win the one trophy that has strangely eluded their grasp since its inception.

The second match against Bermuda, scheduled for the beginning of November may be a less difficult encounter considering that the last time these two teams met in this competition Bermuda only escaped with a draw thanks to two days of wet weather after having their backs to the wall thanks to some incisive bowling from Kenya. A similar performance from Kenya’s bowlers and better weather should see Kenya wrap up an easy victory there. However easy as this may sound it will be important that Kenya do not allow for any complacency as any dropped points in this encounter could come back to haunt them when they embark on the more difficult tours to Netherlands, Ireland and Scotland later on next year.

Although Kenya go into these matches without a permanent head coach since the return of Roger Harper to the West Indies, the team will be managed by veterans Alfred ‘Boi’ Njuguna and Martin Suji, whose experience on the world stage will be vitally important for the confidence and stability of a relatively young national side. Whether they choose to continue with the seemingly dominant policy during Roger Harper of regularly throwing new young talent into the deep end , a policy that has uncovered potential world class gems such as Tanmay Mishra , Hiren Varaiya, and more recently Alex Obanda, or opt for bringing back older more experienced players who had been dropped such as pacemen Alfred Luseno, and Josephat Ababu will be one of the questions on many fans minds as they await the team’s next assignment with nervous anticipation.