Cricket Kenya’s Alamo

In the year 1836, a battle was fort between American settlers and Mexican settlers over a fort in what is now

This commemorative coin, marking 100 years sin...
This commemorative coin, marking 100 years since Texas declared independence from Mexico, includes the phrase “Remember the Alamo”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

modern day Texas. Though the odds were against them , and in due course  they Americans lost what has now gone down in history as ‘The Battle of the Alamo‘ the outpouring support and the subsequent revenge mission is a big part not only in the US acquiring what is now its largest state geographically (Texas), and a massive part of the pride that residents of that state have in who they are to this day.

History aside all intents and purposes this qualifying edition is as important to the fate of Kenya’s national team as the said battle of the Alamo. In early January, Kenya’s youngest national captain will be leading Kenya’s national team. As i have pointed out in other posts, the outcome of Kenya’s attempts to qualify for this world cup will be felt, not just on the pitch but in the ability of Cricket Kenya to grow the game in the country.

So who has been tasked with the duty of making it happen? (world cup qualification) This is the list I have seen going around on social media:Rakep Patel (captain), Ragheb Aga, Duncan Allan, Irfan Karim, Shem Ngoche, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Nelson Odhiambo, Thomas Odoyo, Lameck Onyango, Elijah Otieno, Morris Ouma, Steve Tikolo, and Hiren Varaiya

What is surprising about this squad, is not so much who was selected, but who wasn’t. In terms of changes from the last squad (from the T20 World Cup Qualifiers) Lameck Onyango has been brought out of retirement, and Steve Tikolo is doubling up as interim head coach. Ignored were, Lucas Oluoch (a left arm fast medium bowler in pretty good form as I hear), Dominic Wesonga (an all rounder), and Tanmay Mishra (currently holder of the highest ODI batting average of all Kenyans) among others.

All three’s cricket careers have developed during the existence of Cricket Kenya, and their being overlooked (particularly Mishra over some small spat they should reasonably have gotten over by now) is worrying. Nevertheless, this squad must put all this aside for the moment and find a way to finish among the top two nations at the World Cup qualifiers,and hope that the result can reverberate in the same positive way that the Alamo did for Texas.

Looking Back at Kenya’s Nightmare in Sharjah

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.

The #ICC Kenya should be pulling out of

Apparently when the team Kenya national team landed in India for the last 50 Over World Cup in 2011 they were swamped by local journalists who had mistaken a parliamentary motion to withdraw from the Rome statue and thus the International Criminal Court as a move to pull Kenya out of the International Cricket Council. As it was that was not the case and to date this blogger is not aware of any serious move to actually withdraw from the International Cricket Council (yes, Mr. Indian sports writer, the motion passed by parliament   a few months ago is about the same ICC from before not the cricket one)

Provocative title aside this post is about what this blogger feels is the way shifting tectonics in the priorities of the ICC plus the outmoded way it decides things means there is probably no reasonable expectation for country like Kenya to take the game of cricket to its maximum potential within the structures of the present ICC. Why am I saying this? The immediate reason is the decision to re-structure the 2014 T20 World Cup  to make it so the associates, who have already had to deal with numerous qualifying rounds to qualify for the tournament, have to go through yet another layer of qualifying within the tournament, to get to play with the permanent members. The full members qualify essentially are there because they are full members and full members are just entitled to everything (except Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. They are more semi than full members these days).

The in depth reasons is this blogger is convinced that given the kinds of decisions that the ICC has made, and continues to make over its associates and affiliates indicate that there is glass ceiling that is getting thicker and thicker between them and the full members. I believe that the root of this trend is sometime in the 1990s, when an influx of TV money from ODIs, and the structure of decision making meant that, giving out test status went from being rewarding an apprentice for hanging around and learning the ropes, to essentially thinner slices of money pie all around. Consider that to this blogger’s knowledge there is no set criteria for graduating from associate status to full membership, it is ultimately down to ¾ of sitting members welcoming you into the club.

The principal reason for the title of this blog’s title is the continued refusal of the ICC to reform to reflect the new paradigm it exists in fact I do not think it can if it wanted to. Consider that in 2011 the International Cricket Council ordered an independent governance review (called the Woolf Report  partly in the outrage against a botched attempt to straight throw associates out the World Cups outright, to look at ways of modernizing itself and keep the game relevant. To put it briefly, some of the big nations had one look at the recommendations probably went blue in the face and that is the last that has been heard about that pesky document. Or at least the radical parts of it

I know just now a big chunk of Cricket Kenya’s cricketing programs are funded by ICC grants and subsidies but surely when it is patently clear that the ICC sees no future in taking the game in any non-full member, to real maturity, heck they might secretly be trying shed ‘dead weight’ for all we know, shouldn’t Cricket Kenya consider learning to fish (and maybe get lucky and land a Nile perch) rather than waiting on the fisherman that only feels they are worth an occasional omena