Former Zimbabwe international wicket keeper Robin Brown has been named as interim national team coach of the Kenya national cricket team. Brown, 61 years old, has been in Kenya for several months as Cricket Kenya’s head of cricket development. He comes from a generation of Zimbabwean cricketers that represented their country through that Nation’s first years after independence. His contemporaries include former ashes winning England coach Duncan Fletcher. In that time they did not lose so much as a single world cup qualifier, and famously, at the 1983 Cricket World Cup, defeated an India team that would go on to win the tournament. On the coaching side, Robin Brown served as Zimbabwe’s national coach (from 2007 to 2008) during a difficult time for the game of cricket there. In spite of the difficulties, he managed to inspire the team to shock victory over Australia at that year’s t20 world cup. It can also be argued that his spell in charge was the beginning of a revival of the Zimbabwe national team climaxing in it regaining its test status after 5yrs of self imposed exile. Its probably that reputation that got Cricket Kenya interested in his services to begin with. He takes over the national team at a time it is in need of new inspiration and focus. 6 points adrift of early World Cup qualification and facing Namibia, a team we were to sweeping aside with contempt, but have really struggled with over the past 2 years. Over the past 4 or 5 years, Kenya’s fans have also had to deal with the national team being bypassed by Ireland, The Netherlands, and Afghanistan, as the begu tier 2 cricketing nations. Robin’s mission however, is most likely to get the best out a talented, but underexposed group of players, and re-establish dominance over Namibia in October. Should he be able to do this, it will very likely put him in the driver’s seat to take the job full time and therefore have the kind of security of tenure needed to work a more long term solution to the national team’s woes.
Come Sunday, in Mombasa, Kenya’s national team will start the first of several cricket matches against their Irish counterparts that contribute to, among other things, qualification to the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia/New Zealand. How many of you knew that? Anyway, the matches include 1 Intercontinental Cup ‘Test’ match starting Sunday thru to Wednesday, 2 One Day matches, who’s results contribute to determining 2 of the 4 world cup slots allocated to Associates, and 3 Twenty20 matches. At the moment Ireland top both the Intercontinental ‘Test’ and One day leagues so Kenya need wins here to get back into contention to win both competitions, while the Twenty20 matches serve as the last warm up opportunity for both teams ahead of the qualifiers for that format’s world cup later this year in Sri Lanka. So how are Kenya looking going into this massively important assignment? Reasonably better than they have in a while is my opinion. Kenya spent the back end of 2011 and the begining of 2012 in Andhra Pradesh, India playing that province’s Ranji League team and from the results, it looks like Mike Hesson, the national team’s head coach head hunted from New Zealand’s, efforts are starting to bear fruit. Several batsmen showed scored hundreds in the One day matches, whilst in the Twenty20s, one Ragheb Aga showed a destructiveness with the bat that Kenya have missed in this format for a while. It wasn’t just him in fine touch, there was David Obuya, the young Duncan Allan, Tanmay Mishra, Rakep Patel, and off course the ever consistent captain Collins Obuya. Will their fine form translate to big scores in the more sedate, but more demanding (stamina wise) 4 day game starting Sunday? The bowling on the other hand showed some steel defending some relatively low totals in the twenty20 format though, they did fail to defend a 300 total twice in their India warm ups. Can they put enough pressure on an Ireland batting lineup, that I reckon is the most balanced outside test nations, to bowl them out consistently? That will come down to the tone Nehemiah Odhiambo, and Hiren Varaiya (the most experienced pace and bowlers in the squad) for the rest of the bowling attack. All in a successful outing against Ireland would prove the ideal platform to kickstart a recovery from the debacle of the 2011 World Cup, whilst failure would put this team in real jeopardy of fading into becoming a lost generation.
This week Kenya’s men’s cricket team has a chance to succeed, where the football and TPF4 comrades have failed, when they host Uganda in a 3 match One Day International series in Mombasa. The series, running from the 15th to the 19th of December, will be the last significant activity of a year that has had more downs than ups. Kenya go into this series on the back of a, Steve Tikolo inspired, 4-0 white wash of the United Arab Emirates. Tikolo, as well as 4 other senior players, will however not be available for what may be a tougher assignment against our neighbours next door. There will therefore be more asked of the crop of young players led chiefly by 24yr old Tanmay Mishra and Alex Obanda. Uganda has proven to be increasingly stubborn opposition over the last 2 or three years. A decisive win for Kenya would certainly be a good confidence boost just 3 months ahead of the 50 over World Cup.
With 5 (mostly senior team members) absent through injury there will be an opportunity for one or two younger ones to make a point to the selectors ahead of the 2011 World Cup. Among the batsmen, the one with most to prove, in this blogger’s opinion, is Kanbis’ Rakep Patel. A core element in his club side’s dominance of domestic cricket, his talent has not quite borne fruit at national level since a stunning 92 versus Holland way back in January. There may also be an opportunity for one Lucas Oluoch to make a name for himself. A product of Cricket Kenya’s fledgling youth system he has become available to the national team (he had school commitments) for the 1st time in months. Aside from that there will also be interest in the burgeoning rivalry, between Hiren Varaiya (SLA) and James Ngoche (OS), over the role of 1st choice spinner.
The three games will be on the 15th, 17th and 19th of December and will all be played at the Mombasa Sports Club?
The ICC have officially released the schedule for The Cricet World Cup qualifiers which will be in South Africa later this year. Kenya, who will be participating in the qualifiers for the first time since the ICC abolished permanent ODI status in 2005, are in group B with The Netherlands, Afghanistan, Denmark, Bermuda and the UAE, while group A contains Ireland, Scotland, Uganda, Namibia, Canada, Oman.
The tournament will be divided into two sections, a group stage in which the twelve participants will battle it out in two groups for four slots in a super 8 stage. The Super 8 stage will see the 4 qualifiers from Group A play the qualifiers from Group B for one of the four semifinal spots. The Semifinals and finals will be straight knockouts.
Though It has not been stated on any of the sources I have seen I very much suspect, that in its ICC tradition, points won against other qualifiers in the first round group stage will be carried forward to the next stage. i.e If say Kenya beats the Ntherlands in the first round group game and both qualify for the next round, Kenya will start the Super 8 with the points it gained off the Netherlands, but if Kenya beat the Netherlands but the Netherlands fail to qualify, then the points are lost. Confused? See the full fixture list in lengthly glory here .
At stake are not only the 4 slots at the Cricket World cup in the Sub-continent in 2011 but the 6 ODI status slots currently held by Kenya, Ireland, Scotland, The Netherlands, Canada, and Bermuda that allow them to haggle for fully recognised One Day Internationals against Test nations.
With a new year come new expectations and new year resolutions, and hopefully for Kenya’s cricke$t team better fortune on the field of play. However, their first major assigneent of the year will be the increasingly familiar faces of Zimbabwe, who will be arriving in Kenya for a 5 match One day international series.
The Zimbabweans will be fresh from touring fellow test minnows Bangladesh and depending on how results go there the series against Kenya could very well determine who ends up at the foot of the ODI rankings. They will be looking to the batting likes of Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu, and Sean Williams, as well as the spin bowling of their captain, Prosper Utseya, and Ray Price as they try to avoid what would a heavily embarrasing series loss who have recently started to get the better of them on the field
On the Kenyan sides of things a series win could be the very tonic to cure an year which saw them miss out on qualification to the lucrative world T20 championships in england later this year and win only one ODI match (against Zimbabwe) and a timely morale booster ahead of World cup qualifiers later on the year in South Africa
1st ODI: Kenya v Zimbabwe
27-01-2009 at Mombasa
2nd ODI: Kenya v Zimbabwe
29-01-2009 at Mombasa
3rd ODI: Kenya v Zimbabwe
31-01-2009 at Nairobi
4th ODI: Kenya v Zimbabwe
01-02-2009 at Nairobi
5th ODI: Kenya v Zimbabwe
04-02-2009 at Nairobi
*All matches in Mombasa will be at the Mombasa Sports Club while all matches in nairobi will be played at the Nairobi Gymkhana.
Kennedy Otieno and Ragheb Aga were the the only two changes to the Kenya squad that will beging their season definiing tour of Europe. The 16 man squad will spend two weeks in the Sothe of England playing a series of warm up matches against various cluba and minor counties before they head off to Ireland to play in the qualifying tournament for the ICC T20 World cup in England in 2009. This will be followed by Intercontinental Cup matches against Scotland and the Netherlands as well as several one day internationals.
The return of Ragheb Aga despite his not playing in Cricket Kenya’s Sahara Elite League maks a fairly successful year for the young paceman who landed a one year conract with English County side Sussex, for whom he has taken 7 wickets at 23.14 apiece from 5 innings in the County Championship. His familiarity with local conditions will be important to the success of the tour. Kennedy Obuya on the other hand has been the leading runscorer in the Sahara Elite league scoring two centuries in leading the Southern Stars to the 2 day league title.