Reflecting on Kenya and Pakistan’s recent Cricket games.


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

A poster for the Kenya v. Pakistan A matches (source:Todaynews pakistan)

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.

Of Backs Mutually Scratched: Kenya v. Pakistan 2014


Tomorrow (Sunday the 7th of December) is the first of five matches between Kenya’s u19  cricket team, and their counterparts from the proud cricketing nation of Pakistan.

The Pakistan u19 team, are in Nairobi all of this week for a series of one day matches to help our boys find the level to break a 12 year duck, of qualifying for the u19 Cricket World Cup.

The publicity poster for the u19 matches (from Kenyacricket.com)

After that our own senior national team will jet out to Pakistan, to face Pakistan ‘A’ team, in a series of matches, ostensibly to help the Kenya men team prepare for the World Cricket league. The matches will be ‘45’ overs aside matches, but that’s not the crux of the issue.

That one of the leading nations in the sport, and home of some of the most gifted, exciting, even controversial players that the game of cricket has ever known, has suddenly felt sufficiently philanthropic enough to feel they have to schedule loads of fixtures against some down on their luck, drifting into obscurity associate country got me wondering. What’s the angle?

Tell us Madam Chair, How did you pull this off? (picture from The Standard)

Consider this, even during Kenya’s heyday in the early to mid 2000s, they only actually managed two invitations, to play against test nations not named either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.

Since 2007 they have only managed 2 matches (of any kind) against a major cricketing power (South Africa), outside of actual World Cup matches. Even then it was only after Cricket Kenya had to ‘cost-share’ the expenses with the hosts.

Since 2007, Kenya have only managed 2 T20 matches against Bangladesh, who up to that point were our most consistent rival on the field.

One thing that these two cricketing nations, Kenya and Pakistan, have in common is their games are suffering from the insecurity in their respective countries. This insecurity is as a direct result of the war on terror.

Just as Kenya shares a lengthy, hard to police border with Somalia, a nation rife with Islamic extremism, Pakistan has a very long border with Afghanistan,  across which dangerous extremists have operated. Both nations also have native populations of disaffected youths, ripe for radicalization into extremism. The consequence for both is noth get severely targeted by these extremist groups’ terror attacks.

Pakistan’s national team has not been able to play so much as a single game in front of their own fans, since an incident in 2009, where their visitors, Sri Lanka, were ambushed by armed gun men allied to extremist Islam.

Similarly, with the spike in terror attacks in Kenya (many claimed by Al Shabaab), our own national team has had to deal with the ICC shifting several key World Cup Qualifying, and Intercontinental Cup home matches to neutral venues, due to security concerns.

The need to  ease a few concerns with the ICC, over the safety of cricketers in the two countries, is clearly something which would be boosted by the two nations, actually successfully hosting a national team without any kind of incident. Perhaps it is this confluence of needs that made all this possible. Maybe I’m reading too much into a pair of simple routine tours, between to cricketing nations, like any other.

 

 

Kenya tour to Namibia: A Few Reflections


Kenya’s men’s national team should be back in the country from a tour of Namibia any day now. The official purpose of the tour was Kenya Select XI v. Namibia ‘A’ in a 4 match ODI series. The final result was a 2-2 split between Kenya Select and Namibia ‘A’, with the 4th match being a comprehensive 125 run victory over a tired Kenya team.

That match aside the guys were pretty competitive throughout the series. Rakep Patel and Alex Obanda in particular were in top form on the side of the batsmen, while the bowlers were generally able to keep the team in the game in all 4 contests.

Rakep Patel batting in a practice session . (Source: sporton.co.ke)

One of the key aims of this tour, one presumes would be to gauge, the strength of Kenya against one of their key rivals for promotion out of the World Cricket League Division II.

On the whole, the Kenya team selected were very competitive, against a Namibia team, that tend to blow hot and cold at WCL leagues, so I wouldn’t read too much into how this reflects on Kenya’s own preparations for the same.

The team will not call it a day just yet. They will now head out to Pakistan, to take on a Pakistan ‘A’ team in a series of one day matches in that country (more on that later).Pakistan ‘A’ should provide a sterner test of Kenya’s performance levels, given the probability that the teams Kenya will face will be full of players, on the fringes of Pakistan’s World Cup plans, who will be desperate to prove a point to their national selectors.

Kenya tour to Namibia: A quick Preview


Kenya’s men’s national cricket team is in Namibia this week for a brief warm up tour.  The tour is the first major cricket action for the boys, as they prepare fro next year’s World Cricket League Division II, a tournament which is the first of many hurdles which the team will have to clear, as they set about recovering their lost ODI status and the prestige that came with it.

Kenya’s Nehemiah Odhiambo, bowls in a previous match against Namibia (Source: The Namibian)

 

The World Cricket League, for those of you not in the know, is a series of tournaments managed by the International Cricket Council, as a means of stratifying the various associates, and affiliate members (the teams which don’t have Test Status) , based on the strength of their national teams.  They also double up as a (very convoluted) World Cup Qualifying system.

Since they were launched in 2007, up until very recently, Kenya was in the top division of the World Cricket League, and will need to finish among the to two of the upcoming Division II tournament, to bounce back at the first time of asking.

Back to the tour in question. Initially, Kenya were supposed to have worked out a deal to visit Pakistan and play their ‘A’ team, but that had to be postponed  due to security concerns.

Be that as it may, now that they are playing Namibia instead, this will be a good opportunity to get a feel of the WCL Div II host’s strengths, and  the conditions ahead of the actual tournament. Absolutely nothing should be taken for granted, given how stiff the competition will be once the main tournament actually happens.

As the team gets ready to play, here is hoping them success and that the feed back they get proves useful to winning the WCL DIV II next year.