The importance of being yourself: A review of #Kenya’s #cricket tour of U.A.E


Kenya’s national cricket team have been in The U.A.E for most of the last fortnight. They were there on the urgent business of breathing new like into their faltering World Cup Qualifying and Intercontinental Cup campaigns. The opponents on this tour would be Canada. A team with even dimmer hopes of success in these competitions than, Kenya, but one that Kenya has struggled to dispatch from time to time. As it was, Kenya swept the ODI World Cup Qualifiers and took a maximum 20 points in the 4 day Intercontinental Cup tie. The only blemish being sharing the largely inconsequential (in the sense that only pride was at stake) t20 series 1-1.

The ODI And intercontinental cup wins were built on the back of several individuals sticking to their strengths in spite of the fact that they ran counter to popular perception of the best way to in about being successful in the various forms of cricket. I’m going to highlight 3 in particular. Irfan Karim, Rakep Patel and Nehemiah Odhiambo.

I’ll start with Irfan. The first time this blogger heard about him was from the captain of my high school cricket team, who couldn’t stop raving about this kid he had seen in a rival school that had mastered all all the stuff that we were still coming to grips with in the school senior team. Since then he’s popped up from time to time on this blog as I’ve covered Kenya’s youth team. Together with Emmanuel Bundi and Lucas Oluoch, he represents the best of Cricket Kenya’s nascent youth development programme. From there, it was his break out season as the anchor of the championship winning Coast Pekee batting lineup and straight into the Kenya team against Ireland in September of last year. Throughout, his batting method has defied the popular trend of explosive, hyper aggressive ‘modern’ One Day openers. It has been more of a slow yet, certain accumulation of runs built on staying in and staying in and staying in. Yet it was that patience and composure that was so key in Kenya’s opening ODI win against Canada. A patient 65 anchored Kenya to a wicket victory 6 win. The 2nd match saw a more aggressive Karim, but more importantly it saw him rewarded with his maiden One Day Century, as Kenya overcame a helter skelter start from the Canadians to close out a second 6 wicket win.

The second player I’m looking at is rather different. A product of the Kanbis Cricket Club, Rakep Patel, has been in the national squad for several seasons, yet his obvious talent has yet to be harnessed as he has only really started to get a defined role within th team. Coming in on the back of several years of topping the NPCA runs charts, he has seen himself plugged into pretty much every gap in Kenya’s batting schemes without ever really settling to a set role. On this tour, he was batting in the middle order, and though in the one day games were a foregone conclusion by the time he came in to bat, his intervention in the 1st innings of the intercontinental cup was as game changing as any I’ve witnessed in a 2 innings game. Canada were on a high, having squeezed an extra 112 runs out of their last 3 wickets of their 1st innings, and the Kenyan innings was starting to wobble when he came out to bat at No. 5. Conventional wisdom says in that situation the smart thing to do is, consolidate, take it easy, get your eye in (says the cricket jargon for it) and so on. Rakep on the other hand, in partnership with Tanmay Mishra, attacked the Canadian bowling right from ball number one, and just like that Kenya’s score went from 91/3 to 201/3. The best part of the innings was it wasn’t just a quick 6 and out affair. Rakep kept going and going, crossing the magic 100 run mark in 103. When the Canadians finally it him out for 130, the momentum had totally shifted in Kenya’s favour, setting up the third player I’ll look at’s intervention as Kenya rode the psychological blow struck by that innings to victory.

The player in question is Nehemiah Odhiambo. Making his debut in the national team in the first days of the new Cricket Kenya administration, he has slowly evolved into the leader of Kenya’s pace bowling battery, inheriting the job from such legends as Thomas Odoyo and Peter Ongondo, during a difficult time resultswise for Kenya. Given the time that was remaining in the game, even in light of Rakep’s earlier intervention, the smart money was Canada to escape with a draw, and Kenya to rue another poor result. Not on Nemi’s watch though. Leading from the front, he skewered the Canadian batting to come away with a career best 5 wickets for 45 runs bowling performance. From there Kenya’s victory was assured and though a finals appearance in the Intercontinental Cup is still 2 wins and several doses of good luck away, with bowling like that Kenya should go into their final games against Afghanistan and Scotland with greater confidence.

#EACL Final Preview: The Coast Revival faces Rwenzori obstacle.


This weekend is the finals of the East Africa Premier League and Cup. Rwenzori overcame a scrappy and well…maybe too scrappy Kongonis team in the Premier league and now they face a resurgent Coast Pekee team in the Cup on Sunday Morning.

Coast Pekee have been the miracle team of this season’s competition. Hardly able to win so much as a single match in ether Cup or Premier League last season, this season they came tops in the Cup and 3rd in the Premier League. Now the stand one big performance away from winning their first silverware ever. The spark for this? There is the young Keeper-batsman Irfan Karim. His 195 runs in 5 innings, including a top score of 83*, have been the foundation of the Coast team’s batting through the season. Then there’s been the unbelievably high standard that their bowling unit’s been operating at. Veteran Kenyan paceman Nehemiah Odhiambo’s 16 wickets at 10.87 a piece set the standard for team that have bowled out 4 of their opponents for less than 150. That’s including tomorrow opponents Rwenzori, that were bowled out for 132, chasing 207 for a win.

Granted the Rwenzori batting has come leaps and bounds since then. They looked rock solid chasing down Kanbis’s 248 in the semi. Roger Mukasa coming up trumps with an 84 ball century. Will it be enough to see the Warriors to a double. We’ll know tomorrow.

East Africa #Cricket Leagues: Week 4 Review.


When it rains it pours. Such was the weekend for Kenya’s franchises generally and Kanbis Tigers in particular, this weekend. Both teams facing Ugandan opposition lost both their matches, whilst the all Kenyan face off between the Tigers and Pekee, succumb to their first 0-2 weekend of their short history in the tournament. The weekend started reasonably well enough for the Tigers. An aggressive 41 of 25 from Ashwin Rabadia gave them a reasonably defendable 138 in the T20 match. At least that was until Irfan Karim, very much the find of the season, hit 50, in Coast Pekee’s chase to guide his team to a 8 wicket win. It was the 50 over East Africa Cup however, where the Tigers really lost their way however. 7 wickets from Nehemiah Odhiambo and their innings folded for a measly 64, which Coast proceeded to chase down in under 15 overs. Over in Nakuru the Rift Valley Rhinos were not having it much better. Struggling to 93/7 in their Premier League Match against Nile Knights, their valiant bowling (Hiren Varaiya posting figures of 4-2-5-1) ultimately not enough to prevent the Knights winning by 5 wickets. The cup game saw Rift’s batting struggles continue as they found themselves 129 all out. The Nile Knights losing 6 wickets chasin down that total, perhaps indicative of how much more the batsmen could have helped the Rhino cause. At the Nairobi Club, Steve Tikolo was once again on hand to show that He’s still got it. His 58 (part of the Rwenzori Warriors total of 160) earning them a 14 run victory over Kongonis, who had Alex Obanda’s 52 to thank for keeping them a chance to win the T20 game. The East Africa Cup match, was more one sided as the Warriors swept to a 66 run (Duckworth-Lewis) win. Next week is th final round of group games and it sees Coast Pekee hosting the Nile Knights needing to win to be sure of getting into the semifinals of the either competition. They sit third in the Premier league 4 on 8 points (4 shy of Kanbis), and tied at the top with the Warriors in the Cup. The Tigers face the daunting mission of taking on Rwenzori in Kampala, needing to beat the hosts to be absolutely sure of both of their semifinals spots. They are 2nd in the Premier league and 3rd in the Cup. After winning the Cup last year it looks like the jig is up for Kongonis. Too far adrift to defend the Cup. (they stand tied for 5th with the Knights). They are also 6 points off the last semifinal slot in the Premier League. Again tied with the Knights. Together with the Rhinos, whom they host, these three teams have nothing to lose.