It seems Kenya’s recent debacle against Afghanistan has got alarm bells ringing up in the higher echelons of Cricket Kenya. 42 year old Steve Tikolo and national assistant coach Thomas Odoyo have been brought out of retirement to try get Kenya into the World T20 World Cup scheduled for early next year. Kenya has only ever qualified for one such world cup and the less we dwell on it went for the national team at that tournament the better.
The issue at hand is that with the decision to pick these old hands ahead of such young prospects as Lucas Oluoch, Dominic Wesonga, even slightly younger veterans like Rajesh Bhudiya (subject to work obligations) and Tanmay Mishra, (subject to the resolution of the unexplained ‘disciplinary issues’) Cricket Kenya is pretty much admitting without saying it that Kenya’s cricketing programs just don’t make players good enough for international matches anymore. It is no secret that outside of Nairobi, cricket has shallower roots than the proverbial sugarcane, but surely has it gotten this bad? This blog has long advocated for a concerted effort to organise an expansion program across Kenya’s 47 counties, through schools and feeder clubs just so we wouldn’t end up in this situation. At present outside of the maverick efforts of various cricket academies, there isn’t much to be said about concrete steps to get the nation of Kenya playing cricket.
Anyway, that is a story for another day. The squad selected for the World Cup qualifying tournament , left for a series of warm up matches in Sri Lanka before heading out the qualifier tournament that will run from the middle to the end November. The best six teams at the November qualifier will go into a preliminary round of the World Cup, where they will fight it out with ICC half members Zimbabwe and Bangladesh for the final two spots at the World Cup proper. As much as I want the selection of there two legends of Kenyan cricket to work out for the best and Kenya rediscover the magic of years gone by, surely they ought to have passed the mantle to a new generation, no?
As alluded to in last week’s review, this season’s East Africa Premier League and Cup’s format is a little bit more complicated than last year’s. Where in the inaugural edition, the team’s with the best records beque the group stages simply squared off in the final to determine the winner, and the teams 3rd and 4th played a 3rd place playoff. This season, the teams finishing first (Rwenzori and the Premier league, and Coast in the Cup) would go straight into the finals, where they would await the winner of a series of playoff matches. Because of this, Kanbis, who finished 2nd and 4th in the Premier League and Cup respectively, found themselves playing a double header against The Nile Knights, who themselves finished 5th and 3rd in the Premier League and cup competitions. Are we still confused? I’m not anymore, so your on your own. Anyway, humor aside, Kanbis Tigers were in the Premier League side of things, fighting Nile Knights for a semifinal slot v. the winner of Kongonis v. Coast Pekee. Carried by the aggression of Nahendra Patel (48) and some late hitting from Ramesh Mepani (28*) Kanbis’ 142/8 proved to be just enough to hold off the Knights, who ended up all out for 135. On the bowling front, Rakep Patel and Rajesh Bhudiya combined to take 6 wickets for just 40 runs proving to be the difference in a close fought game. Kanbis will now face Kenya Kongonis for the right to stop Rwenzori taking the Premier league trophy back to Uganda. Kongonis booked their place in the semifinal in a far more comprehensive fashion. Riding on the call of William Rudd’s 56, to 135/4, they were always on top of Coast’s vaunted batting attack. The Mombasa team hobbling to 89/8 in their 20 overs. On the Cup front, the Tigers v. Knights contest was an even closer affair than th Premier League game. Chasing 204, a target has actually proved beyond most teams in the cup this season, the Tigers scraped home just barely. Their last wicket partnership of Oluoch and Rabadia scoring 61 to earn a 1 wicket win. Thus proving true the wisdom of a certain ‘smarter than the average bear’ that, its not over till the last out. The reward for Kanbis’ heroics is a semifinal against Rwenzori Warriors, for the right to take on Coast Pekee in the final. Rwenzori’s superior league record stood them in good stead as weather prevented their playoff against Rift Valley Rhinos from taking off.